Brand Presence

Value Your Brand? Educate Your Audience

03.18.2014 Better Business
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The world is always changing, and nowadays it’s changing faster than ever. The good news is, since the advent of a more accessible Internet, today’s educated and curious consumers are regularly hitting the Web to research and discover the benefits of continuously emerging products and services. This is a huge opportunity to market your business and your brand—but there are quite a few tricks of the trade you need to know to best cash in on this opportunity and build your brand in process.

Ask yourself the following questions and you’ll be on your way to educating your target audience, building your brand identity, and seeing more sales in the long run.

Where’s My Untapped Niche?

Chobani tapped into the yogurt market by advertising their new product as not just another yogurt, but instead, a Greek-style yogurt. While most people had never heard of Greek yogurt before, they were immediately interested in exploring this “new” yogurt style that offers less sugar and more protein than traditional yogurt. The Chobani brand was launched in 2007 and in a few short years Chobani became the top-selling yogurt in the United States. (Read: they don’t just top the Greek yogurt charts—they’re THE top-selling yogurt in the entire country, and they became a billion dollar business during a period of economic downturn to boot!)

The Lesson: To educate your audience, first identify your niche.

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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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Stressed and It Shows? 3 Serious Stress Busters!

02.19.2014 Brand Presence
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This time of year can be really draining, especially with this crazy cold winter we’ve been experiencing! We’re longing for warmth, we’re too cooped up, we need more sunlight, we’re overtired, and it seems like everyone is sick.

But don’t get too down now—spring is on the way! Longer days and sunny skies are just around the corner. So let’s take a minute to talk about stress and how to deal with it. We like to say “You Are Your Brand”—so if you’re stressed and it shows, you could be negatively affecting your brand and your business.

Stress is No Joke

The top 3 causes of stress in the United States are: 1.) Job Pressure (Co-Worker Tension, Bosses, Work Overload), 2.) Money (Loss of Job, Reduced Retirement, Medical Expenses), and 3.) Health (Health Crisis, Terminal or Chronic Illness). While most people experience these types of stressors on a regular basis, I’m betting that all you entrepreneurs and business owners out there are nodding in agreement. Yes, it sounds familiar—I know.

You run a tight and tough ship every day—and, hey, sometimes the stress gets to all of us. Just because you’re running the show doesn’t mean getting stressed out from time to time is a sign of weakness. Stress is serious! Too much stress can negatively affect how you perform at your job and how you interact with your friends and family. When your working and personal relationships suffer, your brand also suffers.

It’s time to look beyond these winter blues and start developing some great habits to boost your positivity and productivity, even if that groundhog’s shadow keeps standing in the way of spring.

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What are YOU Afraid Of? Public Speaking, Perhaps?

02.11.2014 Brand Presence
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There are a lot of things in life to be afraid of, some real, some imagined. In fact, 6.3 million Americans have a diagnosed phobia. While your phobias may go undiagnosed, we all have our weak points: spiders, heights, flying—you name it! Usually, these everyday fears don’t affect your life much—but what happens when your fears get in the way of how you run your business?

The fear of public speaking is a super common fear, even among successful business owners. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 75% of people have a fear of public speaking. So all those enviable successful business owners standing up to speak at conferences and conventions? Most of them are likely just as terrified of public speaking as you may be!

Scared of the Crowd? I Feel Ya.

Last week, I gave a talk to creatives at the University of Houston. Just like any other time, I got jittery before my talk, but unlike any I have done before, I arrived late (due to flights cancelled and delayed). I had to, on the fly, take a 50 minute speech and shave it down to a 20 minute speech. But like always once I got going, the momentum of my speech and of the audience swept me away. I overcame the terrifying obstacle, the talk went well and I was pleased by the feedback I received. (Much thanks to the Theater Department, I had a wonderful time.)

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Your Confidence is Showing: Developing Your Brand Snapshot

02.04.2014 You Are Your Brand
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When introducing yourself and your services (either in person or online), are you showing your stuff or do you sound unprofessional?

For those of you still struggling to define your business and your brand, you might feel like you’re looking up from the bottom of a 1,000-step ladder. Don’t worry: as you grow your business and come into your own, you’ll naturally become more confident in not only what you do, but in the value you provide others through your products and services.

Your Confidence Matters

While your ability to communicate your value will most definitely improve over time, RIGHT NOW you need to be able to convey exactly what you do at a moment’s notice. Sounds simple, right? You might be surprised how often people slip up completely, especially when put on the spot.

Here’s the thing: You Are Your Brand. So every time you present yourself unprofessionally and/or without firm confidence, you’re directly damaging your brand. The roots of great branding start with an in-the-know, confident business owner and team dedicated to creating positive brand interactions between your company and your customers.

Your Brand Snapshot

We call it your Brand Snapshot: it’s a quick pic of your business as a whole. Here are some basic questions you need to have mastered BEFORE you speak to anyone about your business and your products and/or services:

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Your 2014 Content Marketing Plan – A 3 Step Guide

01.21.2014 Better Marketing
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“Where do I even start? I’m overwhelmed!” …is this you?

Even if you understand how content marketing is crucial for the ongoing success of your business and your brand, actually creating a content marketing plan for 2014 can be a totally time-consuming task. You might envision creating a slew of blog posts, eBooks, eNewsletters, new website content like articles and whitepapers, social media updates, and more. Now that takes a lot of planning—and that’s just the written content marketing pieces!

So if you’re serious about launching a real content marketing strategy to extend your brand reach this year, there’s just NO way you’re going to be successful without a workable plan in place.

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Can’t Miss Brands: The 4 Most Influential Brands of 2013

12.10.2013 Better Marketing

Whether completely over-the-top, controversial or just plain marketing genius, we’ve seen a lot of brands creating a lot of buzz over the last year. Brand advertising now comes at us from every possible angle: online, on TV and in print. Because of that fact, if you set out to advertise your brand in this day and age, you’d better have something pretty incredible to offer, lest be left in the marketing dust.

Truth is, properly branded products most often make it to the shelves of our local stores and become household names. But influential branding isn’t always about big names and corporate money. Sometimes, even little brands can make a BIG impact in the marketplace.

Today we’re going to take a look at the brands of 2013 that stood out as most memorable, despite all obstacles.

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This Year’s Most Controversial Ads

12.03.2013 Brand Mistakes
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Advertising your brand can be tricky sometimes. When it comes to big brands with hefty bank accounts whose main goal is to grab people’s attention at any cost, advertising has become downright silly and even offensive. From prankvertising to catvertising (using cats to advertise your brand—trust me, it’s a thing) to print ads you simply can’t believe someone had the guts to think up, brands are certainly getting more and more risqué with advertising.

Today we’re going to take a look at (arguably) some of the most disturbing and controversial ads of 2012-2013.

DISCLAIMER: Linked content may be too disturbing for some viewers. Please proceed to linked content with caution.

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Prankvertising: Worth the Risk for Your Brand? (Part 2)

11.19.2013 Better Branding
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By now, you should know what prankvertising is and why big brands use it to garner attention. Yes, it’s true that prankvertising really gets people’s attention. After all, if you were (unknowingly) part of a prank that involved a violent scene of two men fighting each other in an elevator and subsequently watched one of those men slip a noose around the other’s neck, pulling it tight, you’d probably remember that pretty well, wouldn’t you?

That’s exactly what the marketing firm Thinkmodo was banking on when they orchestrated this stunt to promote the 2013 movie “Dead Man Down.” But, when we consider the outlandish nature of a prank such as this, the real question becomes, how far is too far when it comes to scaring the daylights out of people in the name of advertising?

Are the costs really worth the potential negative effects of prankvertising? Big brands with big bank accounts might have the flexibility to hire a team of lawyers, should a lawsuit pop up as the result of a misguided prank, but what about a small business?

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Prankvertising: How and Why the Big Brands Pull off Master Pranks, Part 1

11.12.2013 Better Branding
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Forget about April Fools’ Day. The days of anticipation, of knowing when the pranks were coming and where they were coming from, are long gone. Watching your back is no longer a suggestion; now, it’s a way of life. That is, if you want to get through the latest stream of big brand advertising spoofs with your head still on straight. What on Earth are we talking about, you ask?

Prankvertising.

It sounds just like what it is: prank-advertising. But, in some ways, prankvertising has become its own animal, especially with respect to how the big brands are using it to garner attention in mainstream media.

Try this analogy on for size: if prankvertising were a spit-ball, the target advertising market would be the teacher. No matter how gooey and gross that spit-ball is, when it hits the teacher’s leg, he or she is most certainly going to pay attention to the brand who threw it.

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