Better Branding

6 Great Ideas for Branded Content

09.16.2014 Better Branding
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Your brand should be unique enough to be memorable to your target audience. But to get even that first glint of brand recognition, you need to get your brand out in front of people. Creating great branded content, as part of your overall content marketing plan, is a fantastic way to expand your brand reach. Here are some ideas to get you started…

1. Brand your Infographics

We already know visual content marketing gets a lot of attention and people just love, love, love infographics these days. These beautified bits of information get read, shared, saved and referenced all over social media and the web. Be sure your logo is stamped in a clear, readable place and use your brand colors to really showcase your branding throughout.

2. Brand your Inspiration

Your brand identity manager or a skilled graphic designer (who is familiar with your branding, of course), can create cool, funny and/or inspirational quotes on a background of your brand colors, stamped with your logo. Choose quotes and themes that interest your target market. Post your placards on LinkedIn and Facebook to get more brand attention.

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The Power of VISUAL Content Marketing

07.01.2014 Brand Design
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If color is your brand’s superpower, then businesses that understand the importance of incorporating visually interesting content into their marketing are superheroes to their target audience. Seeing as 65% of consumers are visual learners and visual data processes 60,000,000 times faster than text—you can’t really afford to have so-so branded graphics or a text-only content marketing strategy.

Check out these great ways to get more visual with your content.

Always Include an Image

Blog post? Email newsletter? Always include an interesting image, whenever possible. Get creative! We’ve all seen the same stock photos over and over. Look at your content from a different angle and see what kinds of clever images you can find that fall in line with your written theme.

Brand Best Practices: Whenever possible, include a unique, branded image in line with your overall brand image/brand personality. Sure, you might not have the time, the budget, or the know-how to create a new, branded graphic every day, but you can shoot for a unique branded image at least once a month. You can also have your brand identity manager or brand designer create a graphic you can use over and over again as a sort of branded signature!

Spice Up Your Landing Pages

Creating landing pages for downloadable free content is a great way to collect customer/lead information, measure the success of your marketing efforts, and gain important insights into what your target audience really wants. To nab more leads and nudge that potential customer toward your content, add interesting images—or better yet, add video—to back up your downloadable freebie.

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Are Your Customers Hatin’ On Your Brand Online?

06.17.2014 Better Branding
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There’s a new restaurant down the street. Great! It’s been open a few months and you have yet to try it, so you go online and look up the menu, then probably pop over to Yelp to get some first-hand customer reviews. Sound familiar? If you don’t have a close friend who’s raving about the restaurant to you in person, you know that you’d better do your homework or you might be in for a disappointing evening. Hey, you’re tired of learning the hard way.

…and you’re not alone.

Almost 80% of American consumers say online reviews influence their purchases. A whopping 93% say they look at online reviews before shopping or dining. NINETY-THREE PERCENT.

That’s no small potatoes, people! If you’re not paying attention to what your customers are saying about your business online, you might be in need of some major brand damage control. Yelp is about to launch a new tool to upload short video reviews, and we’re only going to see more cool tools like this one in the next few years!

Clearly, if you’re not managing your brand’s online presence—the time is NOW. So what’s your company doing to monitor and manage your brand’s online presence?

Creating a Positive Online Brand Presence

If your business or your brand is totally new, you’re in luck: You might be able to fight the customer crowds and establish yourself online before someone beats you to it. If you’re already knee deep in customer reviews, you can follow these steps to boost your brand’s reach and inspire positive customer relationships with your brand…

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Fast-Growing Franchises: Why Consistency is SO Influential

06.03.2014 Better Branding

Here at The Branding Spot blog, we like to talk about consistent branding.

What is a consistent brand? A consistent brand presence means that your logo, your brand colors, and the look and feel of your business is consistent across ALL of your marketing collateral and present in every way your customer interacts with your business—from website to tradeshows to business cards and so much more. We like to call this Brand Alignment.

Why be consistent? Brand consistency is hugely beneficial for your business. The more consistent you are across all your brand elements, the more recognizable your brand becomes. When you see fire engine red and mustard yellow “McDonald’s” probably pops into your head, automatically—probably even subconsciously. Consistent branding is just one reason the McDonald’s brand is so easily recognizable and memorable.

The Business of Consistency

Across-the-board consistency is the key to the overall success of any franchise. One of my favorite business books, The EMyth talks at length about this phenomenon. While not all successful businesses need to be franchises, the principle behind the franchise is what makes these businesses work.

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3 Painless Ways to Use Data to Up Your Brand Reach

05.13.2014 Better Branding
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Data is all around us, and it’s easier to collect than ever, so it’s no wonder you’re likely hearing terms like “big data” and “measurable marketing” as they’re thrown around from the C-level down to the IT department. Leading marketing companies are using a proactive approach, collecting data to predict brand success on the front end and to measure marketing efforts on the backend. While a lot of businesses hire external agencies for this sort of exploration (not to mention accountability), that’s not always an option for smaller businesses.

Does data collection, measurement and analysis seem like a huge undertaking? Well, I’m not going to lie: It definitely IS. But there are a lot of great ways even small businesses can use data to their advantage. Here’s how…

1. Collect & Care

First things first, if you’re not collecting basic customer data at every interaction, it’s time to get on that. Your best bet is to start with a simple, well-built customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Nowadays, most of the best CRMs are web-based and relatively simple to learn and use. Try Less Annoying CRM or Insightly—both are very affordable. (And hey, take your time finding a CRM that works for your team and your business. This is important. Most CRMs offer a free trial, so go for it!)

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Product Packaging: For Your SERVICE-Based Business

04.08.2014 Better Marketing
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When you’re marching down the supermarket aisle, there are plenty of products that really stand out because of their brand-centric packaging. It’s almost automatic: you know to grab the orange-red Tide® bottle, your white Lean Cuisine® boxes with the orange font, the flaming-red rooster bottle of Sriracha hot sauce. You know your favorite brands by sight—so well that shopping for them is almost automatic.

Did you know you can induce this sort of brand loyalty by creating brand-centric packaging for your service-based business?

Here’s how it works…

Go with the Flo

We all know Flo from the Progressive® Insurance commercials, with her signature white outfit, red lipstick and blue headband. Flo is a personification of the Progressive brand—but she’s just one brand tactic the Progressive marketing team uses to get their (insurance-with-a-personalized-touch) message across. Here’s one of our favorite Progressive commercials, Let’s Get Ready to Bundle.

As you can see, Progressive takes their service-based business a step further by creating television commercials set in a physical, supermarket-type atmosphere. Each pick-your-price insurance package is rendered as a physical cardboard box in line with the company’s branding. Furthermore, these physical products can combined to produce a bundle.

We think this is ultra-clever. Consumers watch these commercials and see these insurance services as a consumable product—one we can scan at the counter and take home with us, just like it’s in our local grocery store.

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Company Culture vs. Brand Personality—Does Your Company Measure Up?

03.25.2014 Brand Presence
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Your brand is the whole package. Or is it? We talk a lot about brand alignment on The Branding Spot blog. A great brand must be consistent across the board to be unique, memorable, and thus: effective. This means your website, your marketing collateral, your logo, your brand colors—everything that says HEY! This is my company! needs to be uniform to get the full effect. Heck, at Spot-On Branding, we even offer our popular Brand Alignment Package to help business owners create a consistent look, feel and flow to their brand online and off.

But what about your company culture? Does your company culture actively represent your brand personality, inside and out? Not sure? Here are some areas to focus on:

Your Team Members

Aside from providing excellent customer service (which can truly make or break a brand), is your team actively representing your brand every day, in everything they say and do?

If your business strives for a professional by-the-numbers appearance (let’s say you’re an accounting firm) and your logo, colors, look and feel illustrate these themes, be sure that attitude extends into your each of your team member’s attitudes. Each of your employees should have a standard, professional phone greeting and voicemail, and a standard, professional email signature. When it comes to their company’s financial future, your client is going to want that consistent reassurance that their money is in good hands.

Whatever your industry, your company handbook should outline how your team members are expected to interact with your customers. This might include always mentioning signature services under their full trademarked name, or, for example, always listing three amenities when a potential customer calls to book a stay at your hotel.

Your Office or Store

When a client, customer, or potential customer enters your office or brick-and-mortar shop, are they greeted with an atmosphere in line with your branding? Let’s say you run a surf shop. You want to be sure your brand extends to your store, creating a fun-in-the-sun feeling with every customer, even if they’re just browsing. If your shop prides itself on custom-made surfboards, be sure your shop environment offers potential buyers every opportunity to ask for more information about your sweet custom boards.

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6 Super-Expensive Products…and How To Knock Your Biz Up a Notch with Perceived Value

03.11.2014 Better Branding

While most of us aren’t billionaires, many of us have spent more than the average price on a product or service because we believed the investment (or indulgence) was well worth the cost.

But how much would YOU really pay for the following super-expensive products?

1. Domain Name

In 2007, VacationRentals.com was purchased for $35 million. Next up on the list? Insure.com at $16 million and (of COURSE) Sex.com comes in third at $14 million.

2. Dessert

Serendipity 3 Restaurants offer a $25,000 sundae, the Frrozen Haute Chocolate, made with the world’s finest chocolates and served in a baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet, complete with an 18 carat gold and white diamond bracelet, plus a $14,000 jewel encrusted spoon. Too pricey for your tastes? Try the Golden Opulence instead—a steal at $1,000.

3. Beer

Back in the mid-1990s, a Cambridge archeological team helped recreate just 1,000 bottles of Queen Nefertiti’s 3,250 year old recipe, dubbed Tutankhamun Ale. The brew originally sold for $7,686 a bottle, but the price eventually dropped to $75. Soon after, King Tut’s curse struck again and the brewery closed its doors.

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Brand Trust is a Must: Brand Relationships are HUMAN Relationships

02.25.2014 Better Branding

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” –Shakespeare

When was the last time someone broke your trust? When was the last time you broke someone else’s trust? I’m willing to bet it was a pretty big deal. Maybe your relationship recovered. Maybe it didn’t. Maybe you’re on the fence about the person now, unsure whether or not you can trust him or her again.

It’s happened to everyone; relationships (whether romantic, friendly, or otherwise) aren’t always easy. But all great relationships have one thing in common: TRUST.

Same goes for any relationship between a consumer and a brand. Trust is a must! Brand loyalty is built on trust. When your customers trust your brand, they trust your business, your products and services, and your ability to meet their unique needs. Brand trust is what gives consumers the confidence they need to advocate for your brand.

What is your brand doing to cultivate trust among your potential and current customers? Are you guilty of any of these Brand Trust Fails? How can you regain that precious customer trust and brand confidence once it has faltered?

Brand Trust Fail # 1: Bad Customer Service

“Friendship—my definition—is built on two things. Respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don’t have trust, the friendship will crumble.” –Stieg Larsson

Just like You Are Your Brand, every person your customer touches, from your creative team members to your in-house employees is a brand representative and a brand advocate. If your team constantly fails to put on a smile and treat each customer with respect, they’re stifling your business and damaging your brand with each interaction.

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New Year, New…Brand? Launch Your New Brand in 2014

01.28.2014 Better Branding
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With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, you may be inspired to reconsider or better establish your company brand. After all, football season means stadiums packed to the brim with team colors—everything from official team apparel right down to each player’s mouth guard is colored to signify allegiance to the team.

Plus, with advertising priced at an incredible $4 million for 30 seconds of ad time, you’d better believe the best brands are going to be out and about strutting their stuff!

When you brand or rebrand your business, you’re either breathing life into a new business or you’re breathing new life into your current business. Maybe you’re starting from scratch, or maybe you’re ready for a change. Either way, sometimes it’s hard to know where to even begin. Keep in mind, brand improvements are an ongoing process–so if you think it’s time for a change, you’re probably right, so it’s time to get ready!

Before You Brand

Before you get down and dirty, ready to update, establish or perfect your brand, you should work through the following exercises for best results (if you haven’t already):

  • Define or redefine your company goals for the year.
  • Complete your market research. Think about WHO will most benefit from your products and/or services and define your target audience. Has this target audience changed over the last year?
  • Define or redefine your positioning. Ask yourself: What makes my company unique? Why would my target audience choose my company over others?
  • Do your research to be sure your new business name is available and not already a registered trademark http://ndrichardson.com/blog/2012/09/18/protect-your-brands-value-trademark/. Good to go? Secure your new domain name and social media accounts.
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