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Wearable Tech & the Changing Narrative of your Brand

10.07.2014 Better Marketing
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Wearable tech is here and it’s not going anywhere. From Apple’s recently announced iWatch, to wearable fitness bands like Garmin’s vívofit® and UP by Jawbone™ to “reality enhancing” eyewear like Google Glass—the world (and the way we see and experience it) are changing quite rapidly.

…and we’re about to experience a huge culture shift in how we engage with brands, inspired by this disruptive technology.

From Staged to Sincere

Just as royalty used to pose for hours so an artist could capture their essence in paint, the same frame of reference carried forward in our shift to photography. From paint to film to print to digital and everything in between, we’ve been capturing everything from personal to professional moments in a “say cheese” manner.

That is to say, we’re big on staging the scene.

SELFIES. Need we say more?

But our most beautiful, honest moments as humans aren’t staged at all. That’s why we gaze in awe at the candid brilliance of a professionally taken photograph. The average person isn’t able to capture that kind of intimacy.

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3 Secrets to Landing More Leads with Great Branded Site Content

08.12.2014 Better Marketing
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Your website is your window to the world because it’s your potential and current customers’ window to your business. That means your website is one of your strongest marketing tools—so everything you put out there on the web must be in line with your awesome, consistent and memorable brand. Everything from your graphics to your brand voice must be aligned and working together with all of your offline and online brand components to effectively draw in your potential and current customers.

All your website content should play nice with your brand, while working for your business to attract new customers and to impress loyal, repeat customers. But how do you know what to put on your website to showcase your brand in a meaningful way and to draw in new business? Though the answer may vary a bit depending on your industry, here are 3 great ways to convert more leads with super-killer website content and online presence.

Homepage Heroics

The trick to an engaging homepage? Stop trying to sell, sell, sell! Instead, concentrate on making a fabulous first impression. Again, be sure your brand is on display. Your brand should be working for your business to draw in potential customers—if it’s not, it might be time for a brand refresh. (And it’s the perfect time of year to start! You’ll have your new and improved brand up and running before the holiday rush or in time for the New Year.)

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No Brand? Looks like a Scam! Crafting Better Emails for Your Business…

07.15.2014 Better Marketing
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Considering the importance placed on email as a communication tool, it never ceases to amaze me that I still receive poorly worded, unprofessional, unbranded emails. All business owners should know: every email sent out by your company is a representation of your brand. Bad email practices by business owners and team members alike are detrimental to brand integrity and therefore, business success. Email’s a big deal!

I received the following email from someone looking to help me with my online marketing. What do you think? If you received this exact email, would YOU go out of your way to contact John Smith*? (*Name and information changed to protect the guilty.)

Subject line: Best Content Writing Services !!
To: nora@ndrichardson.com
From: SEOJohnSmith@gmail.com
Dear Web Owner,
I am John Smith.
We are an Online Marketing firm with over 4 years experience in the domain. Content in any Online Marketing Campaign is one of the most crucial factors to make the campaign a success. However, in most cases the content is not good either in terms of user perspective or in terms of search engines. Allow me to offer you our Web Copywriting Services. We work hard to deliver a hassle free and time bound copywriting service to our clients so that they don’t have to wait forever for a content piece. Do let me know if your views are in line with mine and you are facing such a situation with your current service provider. I look forward to your response….
Kind Regards,
John Smith

While most businesses aren’t quite this bad, this is, in fact, a real email from a company looking to attract more customers. (Much to my surprise.) I would normally just stop there and delete this correspondence because it appears suspicious.

But we can learn a lot from John Smith’s mistakes.

Let’s dissect John Smith’s email…

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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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5 Tips for a Better Branded Website

04.29.2014 Better Marketing
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Spring is here! Well, mostly. If your corner of the world is warming up nicely, it’s time to throw open your windows, brush off the dust, and get started on spring cleaning…spring cleaning your website, that is. If the winter blues kept you from getting a fresh start for 2014, then there’s no time like the present to finally ramp up your website—and ramp up your brand in the process!

1. Skip the Overselling

Your website is a great place to showcase what you do. A great website with a consistent look and feel will either entice people to buy right away—or at minimum, create a lasting impression that will bring that customer (and their friends) back to your website for more. The trick here: Don’t oversell, especially on your homepage. Don’t get me wrong; you should definitely make it easy for your customers to inquire about and purchase your products and/or services. However, today’s educated consumer wants to learn more before they buy and to feel in control regarding their purchasing decisions. Above all, you want to be memorable: a memorable brand keeps leads and customers coming back for more.

2. Be Present

If your website hasn’t been updated since the Hamster Dance was the most popular thing on the Internet, you’re going to want to invest in something new…now. Yes, we’re exaggerating—but it’s true: if your website is out-of-date or obviously hasn’t been updated in a year or more, it’s time to refresh your brand and your website. When you’re happy with your website’s modern new look, then it’s time to ramp up your online visibility. Add new branded content every week (like a blog post or an eBook) to entice your target market base, engage potential customers, and nudge them toward the sale. Being present is about communicating your message, but it’s also about building a relationship of trust between your company and your target market.

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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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Nix the Negativity!

09.24.2013 Better Business
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How do you make your clients feel?

Do your clients look forward to your correspondence? Or do they dread hearing your latest sob story?

Even if your head is spinning from an already-busy workweek, or your Monday didn’t run as well as you’d hoped, when it comes to your relationships with your clients, you best keep your negative business to yourself.

TMI

I’ve noticed a serious increase in negative attitudes in the professional world over the last few years. Maybe too many people became too friendly and forgot the importance of professionalism. Perhaps it’s this new culture of over-sharing. (If you’re posting to Facebook on the hour and Instagramming your breakfast every day, it might be time to step away from the computer for a week…or a month.)

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Countries: Brands with Massive Influence

08.13.2013 Better Marketing
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“The public impression of a country is important as a source of national pride. Invariably, people source part of their own identity from the image of their country.” -Robert Cevero, Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley

When it comes to branding, most people think of businesses as the driving force behind the concept. But did you know that every country around the world has its own branding?

The branding of entire countries is a fascinating topic because country brands extend far beyond what most people understand “branding” to be. Here at The Branding Spot, we’ve discussed how a complete brand consists of so many more brand elements than “just a logo.” Brand elements can range from marketing collateral pieces and the look and feel of a website to how a company projects itself at tradeshows, in online advertisements, and even using sounds and catchy jingles.

Countries are unique in the fact that each and every one has its own brand, whether it invests in that branding or not, not to mention the massive influence each country’s brand has on its relation to and place in the world, and the future success of the nation as a whole. Allow me to explain…

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Comic Sans: The Designer’s Scapegoat

08.06.2013 Branding Buzz
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“If you love it, you don’t know much about typography. If you hate it, you really don’t
know much about typography either, and you should get another hobby.”
~ Vincent Connare, inventor of Comic Sans

Comic Sans: It’s THE font guaranteed to get a reaction out of just about anyone, graphic designer or otherwise. Created in 1999 as an inside joke, the Ban Comic Sans website has grown into a popular anti-font movement. On the other hand, you have The Comic Sans Project (“We fear no fonts and we will make the whole world Comic Sans.”) and The Comic Sans Song, which may or may not be soaking in irony. Frankly, it’s hard to tell. Also of note: The Oatmeal, one of the web’s most popular comics, makes fun of Comic Sans in “How a Website Goes Straight To Hell.”

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