Business Branding for Beginners

Business Branding for Beginners

logos-business-branding

 

What makes these images recognizable?

It’s not just the logo.

You know the name, the colors, the tone, the shapes.  You know the weird clown, the simple swoosh, and the flaming red sticker on the curvy Coca-Cola bottle.  I’ll bet you can even describe what kind of experience to expect when you encounter the products.

That’s the Business Brand.

But, there’s more to it than the look and feel.

A brand has a soul.  It has a sound, a voice, and a personality.  Think of it as a child. You want your child to grow into a grateful, helpful, and appreciated member of society, but you know there’s only so much you can do. Other influences make a brand who and what it is.  While building on your business branding, you’ll need to make impossible decisions, but you’ll experience great joy in the process. The brand, like people, has a life of its own. It’s up to you to nurture it, but your customers and employees will have peer-level influence.

Business Branding Basics

Good business branding needs a good marketing strategy, and that all starts with your brand. Your business branding is the foundation of your entire marketing plan, and it’s in both traditional and digital marketing strategies.  It’s in everything, including your:

  • Web design
  • Social media posts
  • Blog
  • Print materials
  • Advertisements
  • Uniforms or name tags
  • Sales funnel
  • Responses to reviews
  • Networking plan
  • Elevator pitch
  • And much, much more…

Before you begin, dedicate a few hours to sit with the below questions.  Grab a pen and a piece of paper (to avoid device distraction) and find a comfortable spot.

I know it sounds corny, but you must be the brand when you answer the following questions:

  • Are you formal, professional, or conversational?
  • Do you use slang?
  • Are you witty or serious?
  • Are you informative or persuasive?
  • Do you use emoticons?
  • Do you use grammar and punctuation casually or formally?
  • How do you use or react to humor about your product or service?
  • How active are you on social media?
  • What do you really care about?
  • Use 3-5 single words to describe your business branding.
  • What’s your vision?
  • What’s your mission?

Does the audience currently engage with your brand?  In other words, are they buying from you?  If not, find out what posts, products, services, blogs, ads, etc. have the most engagement, leads, or sales, and use them to help you build on your business branding.  If you’re just beginning, look at your competitors and see what’s working for them.

Three Ways (with some notes) to Help Your Brand Grow (and keep growing)

  1. Use your colors, fonts, elements, and shapes throughout all Everything from your e-mail signature to your website font should match your brand’s style.
    • Don’t use more than three fonts, but three is pushing it. Choose one serif and one sans-serif from Google Fonts.  The third font can be a fancy one used for call-outs or quotes.
      • Remember, just because you think it looks good that doesn’t mean your readers will like it. Research shows that people prefer serif and sans-serif fonts (especially serif).
  2. Make sure everyone in your company knows how to talk to customers and potential customers.
    • Write an elevator pitch. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but it’s necessary. You don’t have a lot of time. We’re an easily distracted and often inattentive culture. Have the best elevator pitch that makes them want to know more.
    • Teach your team what not to say and do. For example, if you want to be good-natured, professional, and intelligent, you don’t want your team cursing and wearing clothes that don’t fit in with your brand’s personality.
    • Revisit the “who we are” topics regularly with all members of your team.
    • Throw events and do team-building activities that emphasize your brand.
  3. Create 3-6 guiding principles and post them everywhere, teach them everywhere, live them everywhere. Our six guiding principles are:
    1. Be helpful
    2. Bring joy
    3. Keep learning
    4. Have integrity
    5. Nurture partnerships
    6. Honor and respect everyone

Don’t underestimate the power of the collective.  Your audience’s voice is vital to your growth, and it changes as frequently as new ones develop.

Listen and adapt. Learn when to say no, but almost always say yes. 

Help Your Brand Stay Ahead of the Competition

  • Dedicate 30 minutes a day to researching your niche. You may be able to cover this in your workday. Be mindful of ways to learn more about your industry.
    • Check out Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, or enter common keywords in the search engine. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer.  What problem do you need to solve?
    • Follow your favorite blogs, social pages, and websites.
  • Check out your competition and see if they’re doing anything new. SpyFu and SEOptimer have some free information.
  • Research indicates that social audiences love current events, so keep an eye on the news, especially as it relates to your industry.
  • Find opportunities to teach about your industry, product, or service.
  • Fear of failure will stunt your growth. Failure happens. It must. It’s the only way to be successful.  Instead of caving into the fear, plan ahead.  Plan out a policy, process, or action plan for things like negative reviews, bad press, theft, natural disasters, spam, hacking, and employee misbehavior.

The most important message to take from this article is to make sure everything you and your employees do falls within your guiding principles.  Those values should be reflected in your business branding efforts.  It takes a village to raise a brand, so be sure to pay close attention to how those outside influences are affecting your business brand.

10 Important Marketing Trends to Consider

marketing-trends

Have you noticed that there are hundreds of blogs, social pages, templates, strategies, and advice about marketing trends all over the Internet?  Much of the information is full of everything you could imagine, complete with mind-twisting jargon and eye-twitching strategies.  It’s hard to know where to start and what to pay attention to.

There’s no denying that we’ve transitioned into a consumer-driven economy, with demands for connection, transparency, and quality stronger than ever.  It wasn’t like this in the past.  Nobody ever asked us for reviews or feedback about products.  There were no rewards programs, referral gifts, and discounts (except on special holidays).  Now, marketing trends tell us that’s exactly what drives a business.

Buyers demand more from their brands, and there’s so much competition out there that if you don’t meet those demands, you’ll be eating the dust from the heels of your competitors.

A Bit of Marketing History

Before we get to the marketing trends, let’s review the definition of the term.  The American Marketing Association defines marketing as, “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Marketing includes branding (identity, awareness, and loyalty), communications, public relations, and event coordination.  As you can imagine, there are thousands of ways to market a business.  With the advent of higher technologies, marketing trends got harder to keep up with.

Long gone are the days where you could force your brand into the minds of your consumers through one of the major marketing channels:

  1. Print (est. 1839)
  2. Billboards (est. 1867)
  3. Radio (est., 1922)
  4. TV (est. 1941)
  5. Telemarketing (est. 1950s)

That’s not to say there weren’t any channels before 1839.  In fact, research shows several examples of marketing in history:

  1. Market towns sprang up in the Middle Ages (5th-15th century, but especially in the 12th), where people carted and sold their wares and produce. Some historians believe this was the origin of the term, “marketing.”
  2. In the 1390’s, Jakob Fugger was a German merchant who traveled the nation to gather information and report on the international textile industry trade.
  3. Branding and marketing are in antiquity as well. A fish sauce manufacturer from Pompeii in 35 B.C. designed a logo and plastered it around the city and his home, where he entertained national and international guests. His sauce was the most popular item in the Mediterranean and reached as far as France.

Here’s another interesting bit of history:  The first telegraph ad was for hardware in 1864.  This was the first recorded use of Spam to describe unsolicited advertisements.

In today’s age, you have more than 100 marketing channels and a distracted audience, and that means you’ll need to include a mix of traditional and digital efforts.

To do this, you’ll want to stay on top of the marketing trends that are popping up with blinding regularity.  Here are 10 marketing trends that we gathered through combing blogs, reading historical and modern marketing books, and taking part in discussions with industry leaders.

#1:  Mobile is dominant

Intelligent devices – wearables, tablets, smartphones, glasses, and others – have and will continue to shape the world, especially marketing, where consumers demand a more personalized relationship with brands.

#2:  Content is currency

Educational and entertaining content is the key to online engagement.  Writing your own copy is one thing (and not recommended), but designing and writing a promotional video or advertisement for Spotify is another.  Creating a good user experience is also a part of content, and don’t get us started on virtual reality and HoloLens mixed reality technology.  Content is everything from messaging to web design to market research and social presence.

#3:  Social networks have an ecosystem that rival the entire Internet

We thought the Internet was big, but none of us expected the colossal power of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat.  They are quickly turning into the channel for marketing.

#4:  Transparency is at the base of all consumer needs

Customers want to be engaged, entertained, and delighted, but they refuse to sacrifice quality and customer service. If you have a poor product, murky communications, or shoddy services, you won’t last long in this era.  Businesses who’ve chosen to stay with traditional methods of communications are failing because they refuse to embrace transparency. You read about these companies in the news every few months. Further, companies that take responsibility for their mistakes (“flawsome” folks) are rewarded with loyal advocates.

#5:  Big brands are adapting to customer-led marketing

A solid brand and culture connects you to your audience in an emotional way, allowing you to collaborate with them, rather than just sell to them.  Customers feel appreciated and rewarded when a company listens to their needs and responds appropriately.  Reviews and satisfaction ratings dominate marketing, so having them help you develop a worthy product/service will lead to successful growth.

#6:  Brands focus heavily on GenZ

These post-millennial folks are going to be much more demanding than the generations before them.  They’ll demand your story.  Why are you in business? And if it’s solely for profit or obviously fake, they will turn on you in a heartbeat.  It’s time to be real.

#7:  User-generated content is a powerful tool

User-generated content (UC) – reviews, testimonials, and social sharing – has surpassed branded content.  UC is the life of your brand, so make sure you’re creating a positive experience in the minds of your customers.

#8:  Product companies are seeing the most disruption in marketing

Products thrive in this new economy because it revolves around innovative futuristic thinking.  Product developers are asking “what if” questions to consumers and listening to their responses, developing a product that is exactly what they wanted. The people who think “how will this product look in the future?” have more ground-breaking developments than anyone else.  Think Google, Coca-Cola, and Amazon.  These CEO’s thought ahead of their time, predicted a need, and created the solution.

#9:  Tech wizards are honing tracking and measuring tools

Currently, most people focus on “vanity” metrics like impressions, shares, likes, and engagement on websites and social pages, but that can rarely be linked to a positive return on investment (ROI).  Tech wizards are developing analytical tools that help us mine the detailed and sophisticated data to accurately track ROI and better understand the target audience in terms of cultural and emotional values.

#10:  Data-driven disruptive marketing is different from data-driven interruptive marketing

It’s important to know the difference.  Disruptive and inbound marketing are focused on building relationships with your customers, while interruptive marketing is the old-school “push” method that no longer appeals to the masses.  Disruptive marketers know how to use content to build trust and entertain the audience without interrupting their daily flow.

 

Welcome to the new era of business and marketing. It’s disruptive and magnificent!  If you have some free time (hilarious, right?), you should check out the book, “Disruptive Marketing” by Geoffrey Colon. He gives us a new perspective, and his social conversations and insights are compelling.

We’re all being pushed out of our comfort zones to embrace the rapid-fire changes in our culture and development as a species.  Let’s use our skills to usher in reliable and trustworthy business ethics with disruptive marketing that focuses on building relationships with your customers, partners, employees, and community.

Ask the Marketing Experts! Do you have a question about these trends, or did you get an idea you want to brainstorm?

[vc_row][vc_column][mk_button dimension=”flat” corner_style=”full_rounded” size=”large” letter_spacing=”1″ url=”https://yourimprint.net/contact-us/” target=”_blank” bg_color=”#5f1d99″ btn_hover_bg=”#ffbe00″]Let’s Chat[/mk_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Graphic Design Jobs: Roles, Responsibilities, and Pay

Graphic Design Marketing Jobs

This is the second post in a series about digital marketing jobs. Keep your eye on our blog or our social media channels as we add more careers in the coming weeks.  Read the rest of the series here

A picture speaks 1,000 words. It’s a cliche, we know. But, as an aspiring graphic designer, it’s something you ought to believe. Graphic designers create visuals out of ideas, words, or even datasets. They may design brochures, logos, or business reports.

Designers should be clear communicators, think creatively, enjoy using technology, and be able to manage their time well. Many graphic designers will have a degree in communications, art, or a related field. However, a degree is not necessary to succeed in this field. Instead, employers will be interested in a candidate’s experiences, portfolio, and skills.

Job Role 

Graphic designers develop visual materials to educate, inspire, or entertain an audience. They communicate ideas through images.

Many argue that the first graphic designers used images to express their oral language. In fact, these visual languages, including Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese characters, allowed society to communicate emotions, business matters, and daily events.

Today, most graphic designers use technology to create their pieces. Platforms like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are extremely popular; however, designers use other tools as well.

Graphic designers will not just create images. They will also meet with clients, develop various concepts, consider various fonts and colors, ensure all designs are free of errors, and answer questions about the design’s usability. Depending on their job, designers may focus on creating typography, marketing materials, presentations, or illustrations.

Job Responsibilities 

Job responsibilities will change based on the type of place a graphic designer works. For instance, a freelancer who works from home will have different responsibilities than a graphic designer at a large company. Additionally, an entry-level designer will have different tasks than a lead designer.

However, this list combines some of the job’s major duties.

  • Meet with clients to discuss ideas, themes, and imagery.
  • Work with a wide range of media and graphic design software, including Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • Be aware of current graphic design trends, but choose to only engage trends with clear intentions.
  • Manage multiple projects at once, and meet deadlines.
  • Consult with marketing and sales departments to develop a cohesive voice.
  • Prepare rough drafts and present ideas.

What about pay? 

Pay varies depending on levels of experience and education, and location and company matter too. However, a graphic designer should expect to make $30,537 – $60,598, according to PayScale. The median pay for all graphic designers is $42,071, but senior-level designers make an average of $58,804 every year, according to Glassdoor. 

Data from Glassdoor suggests that graphic designers tend to stay in their field. Many go on to become senior graphic designers, art directors, or even web designers.

The YourImprint team is full of knowledge about how to succeed in digital marketing, and we are eager to help aspiring marketers! Learn more about the field on our blog or view some real-life design pieces in our portfolio.

Start the New Year with A Solid Brand Identity

brand-identity

Most of us welcome the fresh opportunities that come with the New Year.  With resolutions in hand, we set out to make each year better than the last. Why not make this year yours?  Now is the time to pull out those jotted dreams you’ve got hidden on that folded napkin in your desk drawer and begin checking off your New Year’s goals.

What’s so important about brand identity and good brand design?

Your brand is what’s said about you when no one’s around. But, no matter how great your product is, if your brand is weak, your business will fail.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you’re in a crowded shopping mall. Can you tell where they’ve been based on the colors of their shopping bags?  That’s brand identity.

Smart companies understand that a brand requires:

  • Logo
  • Color schemes
  • Typography
  • Photography
  • Tagline
  • Slogan
  • Mission, Vision, and Values

Some companies have become so recognizable by their color scheme that they’ve been able to drop their name from their signage altogether (think of the Golden Arches).  That’s brand identity.   

Creating a solid brand design is essential to success. It kickstarts the buyer’s journey.

At the beginning of the business, so much emphasis is placed on creating the best product or service on the market. You put your heart and soul into making sure you’re the best; you never consider what it takes to create your brand.

This is common; however, understanding the need to have a brand strategy in place in the early stages of the business life is paramount to your success.  In the case of a well-established business, organizing a branding or rebranding campaign to reboot your business can often push sales to unprecedented levels.

The Ever-Changing Cycle of Life and Business

Everything changes, all the time.  Just consider how fast our technology has grown and how quickly we’ve adapted to this change.  Even with a solid foundation, companies must constantly change their strategies with the ebbs and flows of cultural norms.

According to a recent article on inc.com, as of 2016, there were 2.3 billion social media users in the world and that number is rising rapidly. This has forced a massive shift in the way companies market themselves and their product.

Without constant changes to your digital marketing strategy, your company risks becoming superseded by a sub-standard product with a better brand.

In short, having a tired brand is the same thing as having no brand. 

Getting Your Brand Design in Place

Having a fresh brand is as important as having a quality product or service.

Questions to Consider:

  • Who is your key audience? What are their demographics and buying behaviors?
  • What are your crucial business goals?
  • Where do you see your business going in five years? Ten?
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • What makes your product/service better than the place down the street?

Visual Elements:

  • Logo
  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Photography/graphics

Keys to Good Brand Identity:

  • Distinct:
    • It should stand out from competitors and catch your audience’s attention
  • Memorable
    • Remember those shopping bags from earlier
  • Flexible
    • Your brand should be as scalable as your business
  • Cohesive:
    • Each piece of your brand and business should complement the brand identity
  • Easy to apply:
    • Any designer, developer, or other creative could produce materials that are consistent.
    • Using the same colors, fonts, shapes, and elements will help everyone remember you.
    • The tagline should be all about your business in a few short words. This is a lasting phrase.
    • Slogans speak to the audience about the product or service, so it will change with campaigns.

All the above is useless without a brand voice.  Your tone, values, cornerstones, and messaging guidelines are crucial for proper communications.

Do you need branding or digital marketing help in the New Year?

Get a Quote!