Better Marketing

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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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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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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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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Why You NEED a Business Plan for Your Brand—and Where to Start

01.14.2014 Better Branding
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It’s pretty much common knowledge these days: having a business plan for your brand will help you not only set goals, but it’ll also help you reach your goals successfully. In fact, the MOST successful brands out there very likely have very detailed business plans. They may have rewritten their business plans several times throughout the course of their business. They may even be creating a new business plan right this very moment!

Point being: to even think about reaching brand and business success—you NEED a business plan.

But before we delve into exactly how to develop your all-encompassing business plan to build up your brand, let’s take a look at why many new business startups tend to miss the mark, and sadly, trip themselves before they can even get out of the gate.

Why Startups Fail

Startups most often fail due to a lack of demand for their product or service. Makes sense, right? If there’s no market for people to buy the product you produce or no reason to purchase the service you provide, then why would any customer spend money at your company? How will your company make a profit?

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Happy New Year—Now What? SMART Brand Goals

01.07.2014 Better Branding
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2014 is YOUR year! This is the year you’re going to ramp up your brand and your business and really show the world your stuff. You’ve probably received a bunch of email offers for New Year business specials—but where do you even start? The next few weeks we’ll be exploring everything you need (SMART goals, a business plan, a marketing plan, and a brand plan) to take your business to the next level this year and GROW in 2014!

After all, 2014 will bring many new opportunities, and if you expect your brand to get better traction than it did in 2013, you’ve got to MAKE that happen. Even if 2013 was an incredibly good year for you (which I hope it was!), you’ll still want to improve your business and your brand in 2014. That’s the real key to success: continual growth and improvement.

So, how can you guarantee continual growth and improvement with your brand in the New Year (and every year to come)? Well, it all comes down to setting goals. (And some goals are just SMARTer than others.)

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