Brand Recognition Importance for your business: State Farm Success

velocity Advertising, Market Information, SEO

Staying ahead in a competitive marketplace is a constant exercise in push and pull, dos and don’ts, and lucky breaks. Taking the lead in the increasingly online world of business in 2014 means taking advantage of evolving SEO, great web design, and success in social media. After all, eCommerce sales grew to $262.3 billion in the United States, and are expected to grow to $440 billion by the end of 2017.

Having said that, web-marketing isn’t the only thing to consider. Harnessing the power of brand recognition and utilizing the mobile market is equally important to keeping your company at the front of potential and actual customers’ minds. This is a lesson that American insurance giant State Farm took to heart. After 91 years of offering a high quality insurance option to Americans, State Farm is still the most profitable insurance company in the country, pulling in an estimated $3.2 billion in profits annually. Its closest competition, Allstate, only earns around $2.3 billion. By realizing the need to change and grow as the nature of business does the same, State Farm has ensured its success into the future.

What Did State Farm Do?

1. Updated Their Classic Logo

One of the smartest things State Farm did for their brand was updating their logo. The company’s original logo, in use since 1953, was recognizable, but it didn’t quite fit with the digital direction business marketing is heading. In 2011, the company reduced the size of their well-known ovals, placing them next to the State Farm name, resulting in a streamlined, modern look. For their online presence, they now use only the three ovals as their emblem.

It might not seem like this is a big fix, but consider this: people remember visual information a lot more readily than they do written information. That’s why a brand’s logo, the bit of information customers are most likely to remember, is said to be the face of a company; it represents everything your customers can expect from your business in a memorable, condensed form.

2. Harnessed the Power of Celebrity

Recognizing the need to fight back against the steady stream of quirky, strange, but effective ads being put out by competitor Geico, State Farm contracted Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, hoping to harness the power of celebrity to bring their company added recognition. The Discount Double Check program, the campaign Rodgers helms, is memorable for the potential 40% savings customers can gain by using it, but it’s unarguably Rodgers’ presence that makes the campaign successful.

Of course, banking on star power for increased recognition and sales is not a new concept. Activia Yogurt brought in actress Jamie Lee Curtis to pitch their female-focused yogurt and subsequently saw sales increase by 80%. Even when marketing isn’t the goal, sales increase with the power of celebrity. For instance, after President Obama was recorded singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” in 2012, sales of the song jumped by 490%.

3. Optimized for the Mobile Market

All estimates show that 2014 is the year mobile internet usage will finally overtake traditional desktop usage. 63% of mobile users use their devices to go online, with nearly a quarter saying they access the internet exclusively from their phones. Additionally, 29% of Americans say they cannot live without their phone, meaning they play with their mobile apps and check their devices for text messages and social media updates constantly.

Hoping to take advantage of the geometric growth of the mobile market, State Farm released a series of mobile apps to make it easier for customers to take care of their insurance needs and to make tracking their driving ability more interesting. The Pocket Agent® app, for example, lets customers file a claim, make deposits in their bank accounts, and find an insurance agent on the go. Other tools tell drivers how safe they are driving and what they need to do to earn certain insurance discounts. All of this ensures State Farm is increasingly part of the growing mobile market.

State Farm is proof that dynamism in business is as important as any product or service offered. By modernizing a familiar logo, fighting fire with fire by producing memorable, celebrity-filled commercials, and realizing the need to tap into the mobile market, State Farm has cemented their dominance in the insurance world. Using the same methods, you can do the same for your business, whatever your field.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

10 Things Guaranteed to Happen to You During Mardi Gras 2014

velocity New Orleans

It’s just about that time again. King Cakes are in every store (I just bought one from Magnolia Discount), there’s a jester holding a giant sign that says: “get your beads here!” and that guy I haven’t talked to since middle school just hit me up on Facebook. Yes, Mardi Gras is coming.

Now, I’m a Veteran. Born and raised in New Orleans. I know what to expect. Even now these things happen to me every year and I’m supposed to know better and trust me, I go to Mardi Gras prepared. So, if this is your first Mardi Gras or are just curious as to what goes on, here are 10 things guaranteed to happen to you during Mardi Gras:

1) You Will Get Lost


Mardi Gras is one of the biggest parties in the world and attracts a never ending sea of people. There are distractions everywhere, and if your doing things right, your in no shape to ignore them…Combine these things with little to no cellphone service and your left with a guarantee to get lost.

2) You will pee in public with a stranger


Now everyone knows that they will pee in public during Mardi Gras, but did you know you will do it with a complete stranger?  Pee spots are often hard to find, there are cops, and your best friend is flirting with the sorta pretty girl he just gave all his beads to0. You need someone to watch your back while you do the deed and I guarantee you someone else is in the exact same situation. You will join forces with them in the search for relief.

3) You will see someone you haven’t seen in ages


Despite it’s nickname, The Big Easy is really a small town. Mardi Gras attracts an enormous amount of people. Chances are someone you know is going. That teacher, from 3rd grade that taught you how to write in script…yeah she’ll be there. Somehow your going to run into this person and have an overly excited (and probably hazy) reunion.

4) You will get into a confrontation


Crowds and alcohol for nearly a week…..Need I say more.

5) You will dance like a retard


Yes, even the most anti-dance stuffy is dancing at Mardi Gras. It’s contagious. Just accept it and worry about all of the pictures later.

6) You will end up somewhere and have no idea how you got there


After the third day of drinking and debauchery things start to get a little hazy. How you ended up in that one guys car going for a Rally’s Cheeseburger will completely slip your mind.

7) You will trespass on someone’s property

No Trespassing Sign on Manitou Incline

I feel sorry for the people who live on the parade routes for only one reason. But at least their yards are well hydrated if you catch my drift.

8) You will completely overvalue your beads

New Orleans Parties During Traditional Mardi Gras Celebration

You just did something really stupid and got the biggest, nicest, pair of beads anyone has ever laid eyes on. You will brag to all your friends, share them on all of the social sites, and vow you’ll never part with them. However, just like your first relationship, you will  throw them in the trash once you realize how uncomfortable you are.

9) You will get wet

Wet Dog

I can’t predict the weather, but it almost always rains at least once during Mardi Gras. If it doesn’t your going to get a drink or 2, or 3 spilled on you….. Prepare accordingly

10) You will have a great time


If somehow this post scared you, or discouraged you from going to Mardi Gras at all, don’t fret. No matter how stupid you look or how many strange things you do you are going to have a great time! These things are just small moments of the day that make Mardi Gras memorable. Remember, Mardi Gras is a marathon not a sprint and it’s fun for everyone….except the police.

How to Evolve SEO and Find Success in 2014

velocity Professional Development, SEO


2013 saw the foundation of traditional SEO brought into question. Google forbade many older techniques, and updated others, to bring them in-line with where the internet is heading in 2014. This shouldn’t be read to mean that SEO is dead; with an estimated 97% of all web experiences beginning with a search engine, it’s more important than ever. SEO in 2014, however, is about optimizing content to drive a successful campaign.

The Trends of 2013

Google introduced a number of changes in 2013, all of which were meant to put the final nail in black-hat SEO’s coffin and bring more utility to web users. Here’s a recap of the biggest changes Matt Cutts and the Google team brought our way last year:

Panda Goes Clandestine- In May of 2013, Google announced that updates to Panda, an algorithm update meant to penalize producers of low-quality web content, would no longer be announced. Instead, updates will be made quietly, driving the point home that the Google is through firing warning shots at abusive marketers.

Penguin Targets Links Along with Content- Updates to Google’s equally reviled Penguin expanded the spam-utility’s scope from content quality to link quality. Penguin no longer takes a cursory glance at included links while focusing on keyword stuffing and content quality. Not only does it check for content quality, it now evaluates each piece of linked content to ensure it offers readers value.

Hummingbird Impacts 90% of Google Searches- Hummingbird was Google’s last major update of 2013 and one they hoped would drive their message home. Unlike Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird was a near complete overhaul of the PageRank algorithm Google had been using since its inception. Whereas Panda and Penguin affected an estimated 10% and 3% of search results, respectively, Webspam head Matt Cutts estimates Hummingbird impacted 90% of results.

Hummingbird fundamentally shifted the way the algorithm works. In the past, people searched using simple phrases and keywords. For example, “pizza Rochester delivery” was used to find a Rochester pizzeria that delivers. Hummingbird fills the need to answer search queries using conversational speech, an increasingly popular way of searching online. Now, users search using full questions, like “Where can I find a Rochester pizzeria that delivers near me?” Using geo-caching data and an algorithm that actually considers the meaning behind queries, Hummingbird offers a more human, and thereby more accurate, search experience.

Where Are We Heading in 2014?

Taken together, last year’s changes focus on value. Content, links, web design — everything you do online needs to offer value or you risk being penalized. If you want to attract traffic and avoid sparring with Google, you need to optimize every facet of your SEO campaign.

Content Built to Answer Questions- Staying ahead of Google in 2014 means focusing on content. Everything you publish has to fill a need. If you stop focusing on “relevant” keywords and start writing relevant content, you can easily adapt to Hummingbird’s shift toward conversational search queries. Great writing brings with it all the keywords and value you need to implement effective SEO.

Synergize Reviews with Search Results- One of the most exciting developments in SEO is the ability to link reviews with your listings in Google results. A professional review of up to 67 characters can be attached to your search results and cited. Place reviews above your content’s meta-description line to increase visibility and improve credibility.

Develop a Link-Building Strategy- Like anything else, you need to take a strategic approach to the way you list links in and develop links for your content. Fixing broken links using Google Webmaster Tools, checking the reputation of cited sources, and ensuring links are relevant to your content are going to be huge in 2014 for avoiding Penguin’s ire.

In some ways, SEO changes in 2014 are simply continuing the trends of 2013. The main difference is that Google, owner of 70% of the search industry market share, has taken the gloves off and made it clear that you either get in line, or you’re going to be severely penalized for using antiquated marketing strategies.

Getting Your Thing To Succeed Using Social Media In 2014

velocity Research, Social Media

It’s been established that if you want your thing to succeed in today’s information based society you must be advertising online and using social media. Online ads and social media campaigns have the ability to target exact demographics and give consumers, businesses, and event planners the ability to interact in a much more powerful and engaging way than traditional forms of advertising like television, radio, and news.  However, choosing which social media sites to utilize has become a very important and often overlooked step in getting your thing to succeed in the social media world.  From the giants of social media like, FacebookYoutube, and Twitter to sites that target more specific niches like Playfire and CultureInside Gallery, where you focus your attention could make or break your thing.

A few years ago experts were touting that one should use every social media outlet at his disposal in order to maximize a brand. This is a completely outdated and unrealistic concept in 2014. There would simply be to many sites for you to manage and too much information for you to create in order to stay engaged with your audience.

 Then there’s this question: the world is a really big place and there is tons of information out there, how does one get noticed amongst the clutter that is consuming these vast social media sites? First, you’ve got to figure out what your thing is and then determine what your goals are. If your only goal is to get 10 thousand likes on Facebook, then you using social media wrong. All of those likes are meaningless unless you are engaging with your consumer. Remember, the point is to engage with your community so that they know of, and better relate to, your thing. Many people, businesses, and event coordinators have forgotten this fundamental concept and simply spam the Internet looking for meaningless follows on Twitter and petty likes on Facebook. They somehow don’t realize that spam isn’t engaging, and that it’s actually bad for their brand image. New and established brands alike have to stay away from this temptation if they want anyone to take their brand seriously. The companies and people that are engaging in these spamming activities have either: A. Gotten lost and forgotten what social media is supposed to be (a community of interested, likeminded individuals that otherwise could not, or would not, engage with one another) or b. have never understood what social media is and are dinosaurs trying to claw their way out of their imminent extinction.

I’m not saying that Facebook, Twitter and the other giant online communities aren’t useful or engaging, they are. My point is that there could be a better alternative you’ve overlooked or a niche within one of those sites that you should target instead of the entire world. Don’t be a dinosaur, be innovative, and stay on your toes. The Internet evolves much to fast for followers and you will never get anywhere if you don’t evolve, pick up your tools, and start creating. If your goal is to reach the entire world, yes choose Facebook, but if your goal is to get more people to your art gallery, weightlifting competition, LAN-party, or whatever your thing is, don’t rule out the possibility that there might be a niche site better suited for your needs.

Here are the steps to figuring out which social media site is right for you.

 Step 1: Determine what your thing is

Closeup of a happy young woman smiling isolated on white backgro

Step 2: Define your target demographic

i.e. Who cares about your thing?


Step 3: Google it! See if a social network for your niche exists. If it doesn’t, by all means make one! If your community exists in a giant like Facebook; great! Go there.  Just make sure your engaging!


Step 4: Engage with the online community that cares about your thing. Because isn’t that what social media is all about?



P.S. Google keeps updating its algorithm and is trying to make engaging content king. Vast knowledge of SEO eventually is not going to matter. Work with Google, not against it. You will lose if you choose the latter.

Your Definitive Guide to the Grammys in 2014: The best ways to watch it, The Performers, and the Presenters

velocity Velocity News


Every year the Grammy’s come and anxiety mounts as artist and fans alike anticipate receiving the one of the most coveted awards in the Music Industry. This year, the Grammy’s will be held on Sunday, January 26th 2014 at 8pm in the Staples Center. However, if you want to watch the entire ceremony, don’t have cable, or only want to view the acts and awards you care about let this page be your guide. The event is always highly watched and therefore has a ton of commercials. If your like most people and don’t want to watch the whole event, including commercials, and long winded thank yous;  follow these people on twitter  and  These twitter feeds are going to be live tweeting the whole event so you don’t have to sit through the boring stuff and won’t miss the fun stuff.



The first stream your going to want to see is The Grammy’s Pre-Telecst Ceremony. The ceremony starts streaming live Sunday at 1 pm and runs til 3:30 p.m. PT on and The Pre-telecast will be hosted by Cyndi Lauper who  looks like this:


Lauper will present 70 awards that you will not be able to catch on television during the main ceremony. The pre-telecast ceremony will also have nominees performances.

Nominees Performing during the Pre-Telecast include:

  1. Sarah Jarosz

2.  Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite 



3. Hiatus Kaivote

4. La Santa Cecilia

5.  Summer Horns with the Larry Batiste Orchestra along with special gues Verdine White

6. Roomful of Teeth

5. Then the Moment you’ve been waiting for! The Grammys  begin at 8pm! Stream it from for backstage and behind the scenes coverage go back to

You can find full list of Nominees and what they were nominated for here:     grammy-award

Full list of performances and presenters (because it doesn’t exist anywhere else on the internet):

  1. Performances:
    1. Daft Punk with Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Willliams and Stevie Wonder
    2. Imagine Dragons
    3. Katy Perry
    4. Kendrick Lamar
    5. Lorde
    6. Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Blake Shelton
    7. Metallica and Lang Lang
    8. Pink and Nate Ruess
    9. Robin Thicke and Chicago
    10. Taylor Swift
    11. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
    12. Beyonce and Jay-Z (It’s rumored that Madonna may come on stage as well)jayz-beyonce
    13. John Legend
    14. Kacey Musgraves
    15. Keith Urban
    16. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr
    17. Sara Bareilles and Carole King
    18. Bruno Mars
    19. Hunter Hayes
    20. Gary Clark Jr
    21. Nine Inch Nails
    22. Queens of the Stone Age
    23.  Dave Grohl
    24. Lindsey Buckingham 
    1. LL Cool Jay (Host)
    2. Marc Anthony
    3. Black Sabbathozzy-osbourne
    4. Zac Brown
    5. Gloria Estefan
    6. Anna Faris
    7. Jamie Foxx
    8. Ariana Grande
    9. Neil Patrick Harris
    10. Olivia Harrison
    11. Anna Kendrick
    12. Alicia Keys
    13. Juanes
    14. Cyndi Lauper
    15. Jared Leto
    16. Bruno Mars
    17. Martina Mcride
    18. Miguel
    19. Yoko Ono
    20. Smokey Robinson
    21. Ryan Seacrest


Notable snubs and shock nominations:

That’s it! Your guide to the Grammy’s is complete! For updates be sure to follow us on twitter at

Leadership 101

velocity Velocity News

Last week, I traveled to sunny Orange County, California to attend a 5 day conference devoted to Leadership. While I have always considered myself pretty fearless in taking charge in any situation, I also realize that there is always room to grow, and in order to remain competitive, you must constantly work to refine your talents. Lucky for you, I have put together cliffs notes of the top three qualities that define a good leader which were in some way interjected into every lesson taught throughout the conference. While some of these sound like no-brainers, they are actually quite difficult to practice in everyday situations.


Take Responsibility: Now this can go one of two ways, but both are equally important:

EX A: You rocked a meeting and you are being acknowledged by others for your hard work. Many people don’t want to come off as chauvinistic, so they say something along the lines of “Oh, it really wasn’t that difficult” or “Really, it wasn’t that big of a deal..” If someone in the work force is giving you praise for something- OWN IT! You know you worked hard and you deserve for other people to recognize that and verbalize it to you. A simple “Thank You” and a warm smile is perfectly fine!

EX B: You tanked a meeting and you are being held accountable by others for your lack of effort or preparation. While it is always easy to find blame in other people, first look at yourself and think of what you could have done to have changed the outcome of the situation. Next, address all of those involved regarding how you dropped the ball and ways in which you learned from this mistake. Your colleagues will gain much more respect & trust in you if you can acknowledge a weakness than if you just try to blame others and sink away from the situation.

Communication: This is a big one regardless of what field you work in. As a leader, being able to clearly relay what needs to be accomplished is key. If everyone is not on the same page at the beginning of the project- errors will be made which will result in lost time and effort, usually creating tension within the team. Clearly define, with as much detail as possible, what you need done and in what time frame you need it completed; and always make sure your employees feel comfortable to ask questions if need be. A great lesson our President, Trey Berning, taught me that I will forever hold onto, is that there is a difference between communication & a conversation. Communication can be in the form of an email, voice-mail, text, post-it, g-mail chat, etc. A conversation involves two human beings having an interactive verbal conversation resulting in a clear decision at the end. Sometimes, simple projects can be completed by some form of communication where as more complex projects require a/ multiple conversations. When in doubt- always choose a conversation!

Commitment: As a leader, the best way to ensure productivity out of your staff is if you inspire them by your own hard work and commitment. Not very often do you see those in leadership positions rolling into a meeting 10 minutes late or leaving the office right as the clock strikes 5 o’clock. Commitment comes in many different forms, but all can gain respect of your team and assist in delivering the peak amount of quality work out of all. Ways to show commitment can be through positive reinforcement, loyalty to your company and brand, following through on daily tasks, being able to get down in the trenches to do hard work when need be, and staying loyal to everyone on your team through good times and bad.

Over the next month, try implementing these three qualities into the work you produce. Take notice on whether those around you see a difference in the work you are creating, your attitude around the office or with colleagues, and recognition from those in management positions.


Social Media: MythBuster Edition

velocity Velocity News


Are you still questioning why your business should be on social media?  I can’t tell you how many times I have had this conversation; it is pretty common for small businesses to question why they should be on social media.

The main reason is that many can’t understand how social media can truly benefit their business and impact their bottom line. But with 72% of Internet users on some type of social media, your business cannot afford to ignore this communication channel.

 In an effort to help you decide whether social media is right for you, I am going to bust the three biggest myths on social media.

Myth #1: If you can’t measure ROI, it’s not worth doing.

First off, whether you like it or not, chances are you’re already on social media. It’s likely that some of your customers are already talking about you, your business and your competitors on some type of social network.

What’s the ROI on social media you ask? What’s the ROI on a press release? It’s hard to measure, but you know it should be part of your  marketing. One way to understand the impact of your social media reputation is by measuring how large and active your online community is. Consider this: any one who has mentioned, interacted or chosen to communicate via social media is a potential customer.

It’s important to be part of this conversation – to hear what customers have to say about you and to answer their questions. Social media lets you build a community around your brand, and make it likable. The more likable your brand is the more people will prefer it. The bottom line is that people prefer to buy from people they like and the bigger your bottom line is, the bigger your revenue, will be.

Another way to measure the effectiveness of being on social media is to think about what you’re actually paying for. Social media is not just a lead generating tool or advert. It provides so much more. In fact, your social media pages give you a means to:

• attract product reviews

• collect testimonials

• provide one-to-one customer service

• provide real time updates on new products or services

• gain and field email feedback

• shift negative brand perception

• find out who your customers really are and what they think of you

• find new target markets

• identify where your next brick and mortar store should be

• identify which products your customers want to buy

• check on your competition

• communicate directly with your customers in an ongoing two-way conversation.

Myth #2: Success depends on ‘likes’

Not really. Depending on your niche and your target market, having more likes on anything does not guarantee success. The key is -engagement!

Social media is about creating a positive and active community. You could have thousands of followers, but if you have no engagement, not only is it not beneficial, it can have a detrimental effect on your SEO. (Google ranks valuable content depending on engagement and interactions.)

If you focus your efforts on building a stable, active and positive online community through different social platforms, there is no doubt you will succeed!

Myth #3: My customers aren’t on social media

Now that’s a myth!

More than 70% of Internet users are on some type of social media. Facebook has over one billion active users; Twitter has more than 200 million active users; and Instagram is up to 110 million per month. Let’s not forget the dozens of other social sites that are used every day. Every time someone reviews products and services, shares pictures of their entrée, or rates a hotel, they’re using social media.

Your social media pages work as an online store front for your brand. For your business, social media platforms aim to get your followers to interact with your content, so that they push it out to their network and create online word of mouth.

Comments on Net Neutrality: The Beginning of the End of the Online American Dream

velocity Velocity News

The Internet has long been the new Wild West; sure it has its rules, but most rules are broken regularly and innovation is king, not money.  It is the only place where a talented college kid with an idea can topple a giant corporation and become a god overnight. What I have been viewing as the New American Dream. It is the only place where you can create a business for under $100 and where people are free to voice their opinions and succeed at whatever they want, as long as it’s good, which is decided by the public, not a corporation.  It’s the freest and most volatile space on the planet.

However, yesterday January 16, 2014, The Federal Court ruled to end Net Neutrality. This will allow corporations to limit access to some businesses (the ones that can’t pay) and give better access to others (the ones that can). So if a threatening competitor to Google or Facebook pops up, these corporations could effectively prevent the new competitor from working as well or even at all, on their platforms. They could then tax the new business to death to work on it’s platforms and raise the bar for other competitors and developers to enter. This could effectively kill the dream.

Does the American Government want to end the online American Dream? Are we so in debt that the American Government is going to allow big corporations to become immortal? Is the American Dream no longer important to our government? The answer seems to be an empathetic yes. Thank you America, you may have just made Zuckerberg’s invention an immortal

Want more?

Velocitiff: A Beats Inspired Story

velocity Velocity News

I’m a man of simple tastes.  I spend most of my days in my usual routine: I wake up, eat breakfast, read The Advocate, then put on my Beats by Dre headphones and take off to my 8-5 job.  It didn’t occur to me that others don’t share this same experience until I came across a little article on Velocity’s blog yesterday. Let’s get right down to it – I’m an audiophile.  I’ve never worn headphones that cost less than $200.  I’m a New Orleans musician.  I’ve spent some crucial time in the studio with legends such as Ke$ha and countless Kids Bop platinum recording artists.  With such expertise, I came to a historic conclusion – Beats by Dre are the best headphones anyone could ever have.

Sure, they could be alternative to lawn fertilizer, but like, who wouldn’t want that?  Beats by Dre has been known to have many great alternative uses such as ear muffs, dog collars and chick magnets.  Have you ever needed an extra hourglass? An elevated drink coaster? Then look no further.  Did I mention total chick magnets?


Works like a charm.

In fact, here’s a comprehensive Reddit post of the many ways you can use Beats by Dre that I copied and pasted: “Beats headphones offer a cutting edge layer of comfort only known by the likes of Tempur-Pedic.  Beats headphones are so easy to operate that the inventors skipped animal testing, and went straight into production. I would not go as far as to call them smart, but you would have to be dumb to not know how to use them.  These user friendly headphones offer high-quality, easy to use, multi-functional headphones.  When the headphones are folded up, the user has a fully functional pendulum at his, or her, disposal, which also serves as one minute timer.”–drdrefan2001

Beats persuaded Obama to end the War in Iraq.  Beats are the #1 choice of headphones by the American Red Cross Association.  Beats inspired the winning lottery numbers three weeks ago.  Beats have also inspired a ton of celebrities.  Nicholas Cage said in Newsweek that he tends to feel uncomfortable everywhere he goes unless accompanied by his Beats headphones.

“These headphones can be turned all the way up and not peak, or become distorted, and retain crisp highs, thick medium, and downright meaty lows,” my good friend Eminem said. I hope what you’re seeing is a trend of culture.  Beats by Dre has inspired a culture of fans that no longer settle for rock bottom.  No, we want at least some standards.  We want a brand to wear.  The audio quality might be on par with some of your run-of-the-mill competitor knockoffs, but who cares what’s on inside anymore. Beats are guaranteed to keep grandma entertained with its slick design and reflective surfaces.  Beats headphones come in a variety of colors, feather weight, and should be on every true music fan’s wish list. If I were a genius, I would have invented Beats by Dre myself.

So forget about those bills this month and get yourself a pair of Beats by Dre.

Beats by Dre: A Tale of Marketing Genius

velocity Velocity News

Let me get this out of the way up front- I’m no audiophile. I’ve spent more time with my cheap $7 earbuds in my ears than I’d really care to admit. But as unofficial Velocity Agency Music Snob, I’ve also spent my fair share of time with professional quality headphones, listening to music on top-of-the-line studio monitors, and have spent enough time in recording studios to make Axl Rose cringe. And all of that time and knowledge has led me to my most important realization yet- that Beats headphones by Dre are horrible. Maybe not horrible by all counts- I believe they’d make a suitable alternative as lawn fertilizer- but at the very least, they have no place being sold for upwards of $400 as professional quality headphones.


Ok, maybe they don’t necessarily sound horrible. Compared to the cheap earbuds that come with most iPhones and iPods, they sound downright decent. But although I may be exaggerating a bit, it’s old news that a significant quantity of audio enthusiasts agree that they sound drastically inferior to other headphones in the same price range. The bass is overrepresented, and the artificial dynamics on the low end cause unwanted distortion. These aren’t so much opinions as they are facts; facts that point to the conclusion that Beats by Dre sound objectively bad. But that’s not why I’m fascinated by Beats. I mean, there are literally hundreds of bad sounding headphones in the world. The reason Beats has captured my interest is that they account for 57% of the market share of premium headphones. That’s right, a company that has only been around for 5 years has secured the majority of a 1.8 billion dollar market that has practically been around for as long as recorded music has existed. But how can headphones that most experts agree sound objectively bad have such dominance over the market? These are the types of questions that keep me up at night.

Above all else, Beats succeeded by recognizing a huge gap in the marketplace. Not just headphones- it runs deeper than that. What percent of Americans have some sort of personal audio player? As long as you include smart phones, practically everybody. But until the last few years, the number of those people who even knew such a thing as sound quality existed was slim. Beats recognized an opportunity to take something- sound quality- that was previously only relevant to a niche market, and convert it into something with mass market appeal. It’s a textbook example of recognizing an opportunity if there ever was one. And while other, arguably better, premium headphone manufacturers were stuck marketing exclusively to sound engineers and audiophiles, Beats recognized that the idea of making music sound good was much more universal than that. It was just a matter of how to communicate the idea to a mass market.

This is where the design came into play. If there’s one thing that can be said about marketing in the 21st century, it’s that design is every bit as important as content. Beats are as much of an accessory or statement as they are a device for listening to music. From the pristinely contoured shape to the beautiful simplicity of the “b” logo on the side, there’s no denying that they are impeccable from a design standpoint. As much as I love my top of the line hi-fi studio headphones- let’s face it- they’re hideous. If I wore them out in public people would probably ridicule me. And of course it doesn’t hurt that they’ve managed to have so many celebrities wearing their headphones in public. And now you can even get your favorite artists’ signature headphones (as long as your favorite artist is Lady Gaga).

This day and age, products tend to speak for themselves more than ever. We rely less heavily on traditional forms of advertising, and tend to favor the opinions of our friends or what we see on social media platforms. This is both a curse and a blessing from a marketing standpoint. When a product is truly great, it basically does the advertising itself.  On the other hand, products that aren’t exceptional are harder than ever to effectively promote and sell. But every now and then, there’s such a perfect storm of clever marketingand fortuitous timing that a product even as mediocre as Beats can become a phenomenon. As a fan of music, I’m genuinely happy that Beats has gotten such a widespread enthusiasm for sound quality, even if I don’t like the way their products sound. Now if they could just make some Mastodon artist series headphones…