Building a brand is tricky. You want people to think of your business uniquely. Ideally, you want to create a “vibe” that not only connects you with your market but associates a specific meaning within the mind of the consumer. In order to establish such a position, this requires a synchronicity between your brand strategy, brand message, and brand appearance. In other words, you need consistency.
Once you have established an idea for your brand, you begin to actualize this by putting out a message. Who are you? What do you offer? How are you different from the competition? These are the questions your message will answer. And once you have your message — stick with it. The longer you continue to put out your unique message, the more familiar it will become to people. And the more familiar it becomes, the more you build credibility. When it comes down to it, the consumer will seek out people and services that they recognize. So it’s important to be persistent with the same message — branding doesn’t happen overnight!
Your brand appearance should be consistent with the brand message. Think about it this way — the brand message is the meaning that you desire people to associate with your brand, whereas the brand appearance is how your message is actually perceived. You want to always be working toward closing the gap between your desired perception of your brand and the consumer’s perception of your brand.
Be aware that even the subtleties of your brand have an effect on the perception of your brand! If you’re a spa business and you want to brand your business with the colors black and red, your message may not be consistent with your appearance. Black is a very mysterious color often associated with fear and insecurity and red is often associated with high energy and sometimes aggression or anger. The associations that people have with black and red are not ones that would communicate a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation — the feelings you seek from a spa. So this would be an example of a lack of consistency between brand message and brand appearance.
Matching your brand message to your brand appearance is achieved through a brand strategy. Not all methods work the same for every message. If you are going to claim to be a “local” expert, then you need to do something truly local with your look and feel. If you’re a St. Louis local for example, one strategy to accomplish this might be to associate yourself with St. Louis sports teams like the Cardinals, the Blues, or the Rams. But this particular strategy may not work if you’re claiming local expertise as a bar owner, because most bars in St. Louis already associate themselves with the St. Louis teams. So another strategy to establish your brand message of “local expertise” may be in order.
When building a brand, cohesion is also key. However it should be noted that cohesion and consistency are not the same thing. By definition, consistency is doing the same thing predictably, whereas cohesion is doing things in a way that create unity. You can be successful in positioning your brand, having cohesion between your message and your appearance, but if you aren’t consistent your brand won’t last. Cohesion establishes your brand, but consistency builds it up. If you keep changing your message, people won’t be able to keep up with who you are and they will lose interest or forget about you.
Therefore it is important to find a look and feel and stick with it. Because the more you repeat a message, the more space it takes up in a person’s mind. Consistency is key!
To say the last few weeks haven’t affected all of us both personally and professionally would be a disservice to our families and businesses. We want to reassure you that we are here for you and remind you of the importance to stay engaged with your clients – even online.
It may be your gut instinct to preserve your business by making cuts to your budget – particularly in marketing. However, studies of recent recessions have shown that businesses that refocus spending outperformed businesses that made sweeping cuts. Businesses that take a more progressive approach to spend during recessions have higher profitability and come out of recessions ahead of their competition.
That’s why it’s so critical to not direct funds away from marketing, but instead, reallocate funding into marketing. When we work together we can ensure that your sales and marketing efforts will not only continue but potentially thrive and lead to a greater chance of success when this time of crisis passes.
Here are some suggestions we have for continuing to reach your customers during the pandemic:
1. Be Easy to Find Online
There are currently more people online than there are people in their cars or walking around outside. Eyeballs are on screens. It’s never been more important to be searchable online.
Now is not the time to be hidden online. You should have:
An updated websitewith information about how your business is handling COVID-19
It’s not just to remind your customers that your business is still here and needs support, it’s an opportunity to show your audience real empathy. Never has been there a more ideal time to stand out in the marketplace by showing sensitivity and consideration toward people.
Show the people behind the business – staying at home, managing social isolation just like everyone else. Show how you care and how you’re helping – maybe by doing charitable acts or
fundraising. You can promote these good deeds on social media to build your brand. This will resonate with people and they will remember when this pandemic passes and money can flow more freely again.
3. Focus on SEO & Online Reviews
During the very few times many of us leave our homes, we want to stay close by to get food and supplies. Using SEO strategies to optimize your website can help put you closer to the top of the list of search results when people are making location-based searches.
Additionally, now is a great time to accumulate positive online reviews. If you can provide great service during a time of crisis, you can prove the best of your business’s reputation. Ask past customers and, especially, customers you serve during this time to leave you a review either on Google or Facebook.
4. Be Flexible & Connect in Uncertain Times
Nobody really knows what’s going to happen with how COVID-19 plays out and how much it will affect the economy so it’s imperative to remain flexible and fluid with your business during these times. Stay in touch with your customers – via email, social media, snail mail, website, or otherwise – and let them know how you’re adapting your business during these times. For example, if you’re a restaurant – delivery or curbside pick-up. Or if you’re a consultation-based buisness– online meetings only. Let your network know how you’re handling the changes as they come.
5. Use the Downtime to Finish To-Do Lists
Now that we’re restricted to working from home and have reclaimed some time from daily commutes back and forth to the office, it’s likely you have some extra time. Now is a great time to address those marketing to-do list items that have been sitting on the backburner.
We need to stay relevant and top of mind with our clients, especially when the dust settles from this coronavirus pandemic. This disruption will not last forever and we can still reach clients via email, social media, website, and snail-mail. Simply stated virtual is now our reality, but content is still king! As you know, the content that you present becomes your voice. Please reach out to CommCore Marketing if you need assistance with marketing during these uncertain times. Our thoughts go out to all of those affected by this crisis, please take good care of yourself and your family.
We all know that Facebook is the king of social media. As of the end of 2016, Facebook had 2.41 billion monthly active users (Statista, 2019). That isn’t anything to scoff at.
When you have a pool of over two-sevenths of the human population to reach out to at your fingertips, it’s really a no-brainer that you need to be showing up on Facebook.
Facebook is free, the advertising on this platform is cheap, and it’s easier to implement customized features on Facebook like running a small e-commerce shop or running contests than it is to implement on your website.
If your business doesn’t have a Facebook page, it’s time to get one set up. Here’s how to do it…
Creating a Facebook Page
Making a Facebook page requires you to have a personal Facebook profile. As the creator of that page, you can interact as the business— so no need to worry about your personal information mixing with the business page. They are two separate identities.
So the first step (once you have a personal Facebook profile) is to go to the Pages header on the left side navigation menu. Next, you will click Create a Page in the upper right-hand corner.
Facebook then gives you six categories to choose from to identify the type of page you are creating:
After you select one of these options, you’ll get a list of fields— category, business name, address, phone number. Fill in all these fields then click Get Started.
Facebook will then walk you through all the sections to complete for your business page. You are always able to skip a section and finish it later. But do make sure that you fill out the About Me section, a profile picture for your page, and your website just to start.
We would also recommend you add categories that relate to your business (in the 1. About section). Facebook has its own page ranking system and adding categories will help your page come up more in relevant Facebook searches.
With this in mind, it is also to your advantage to the 4. Preferred Page Audience section because this will further refine who your page will display in front of the most. You can select relevant locations, age, genders, interests, and languages as they relate to your business.
After completing these sections, unless you are running the page alone, you will want to select admins. You can select admins by going to Settings in the upper right-hand corner of the page then clicking Page Roles on the left-hand side menu.
Under the heading Assign a New Page Role, you will notice when clicking on the drop-down menu that there are more page roles than just admins.
You can select from six different page roles and there are descriptions under the entry field bar for each. Remember to add someone to the page with a role, they must either be your friend on Facebook or you must add them by email. Only add people you trust!
Once you have completed these steps, your business page will be ready to go.
To further manage your page, go to Settings (top right-hand corner) and then the Edit Page button (left-hand side menu). From there you can change the template of your Facebook page, adjust the settings of your page’s tabs, or add a tab.
There are plenty of ways to customize your page, just using Facebook’s settings. So be sure to go through and familiarize yourself with all the different settings.
For more information and guidance for setting up a Facebook page, visit here, or CommCore Marketing can help you get your Facebook Business Page up and running!
When it comes to branding, it’s critical to be consistent wherever you promote your brand. Both online and offline, your promotional efforts have to align with each other to be effective. Wherever your business has a presence, your brand identity needs to be clear.
When searching on the internet, people are not thinking of going offline to discover more about your brand, so neither should you. Your website is the ideal platform online to create a brand image with continuity so that any user who comes across it knows exactly who you are.
But how exactly does one create a lasting brand identity on a website that can also be leveraged offline? Here are five tips that will guide you in unifying your branding identity.
1. Branding Identity Basics: Your Logo, Typography, & Colors
If you haven’t already branded your business with a set of colors to use and a brand logo, this is the first thing you should do. You may not think it’s a priority, but these visual factors play a strong role in keeping your brand lodged in the minds of viewers.
First things first: your logo. If you haven’t already, get a logo designed ASAP. There is no shortage of graphic designers who are willing to help you design a logo. Then be sure your logo is on every material you put out as a business– your website pages, business cards, letterheads, etc. When you pick your brand colors, you need to consider that each color has psychological impacts. Red tends to convey feelings of excitement or intensity while gray gives off feelings of balance and calm. Do some research into the meanings of each color and decide from there which colors communicate the feelings you want to be associated with your brand.
Then– stick with the colors you pick. This will help reinforce your brand in a potential buyer’s mind. When you’re not consistent with color schemes, your brand becomes less memorable.
2. Use Language that Aligns with Your Brand
Your brand voice is incredibly important. Just like with your brand colors, you need to use language that speaks to your ideal buyer and client base. If you’re not sure what
language to use with the people you want to reach, start by considering how you want your brand to feel to your audience.
Write down a list of words and pick just three that you want to use for the base of your brand in the form of text. Here are just a few ideas:
What words jump out as ones that would work with your brand? If you’re a lawyer, you probably wouldn’t want to choose “fun, trendy, and laid-back.” These words might fit with a bowling alley brand, but a law office might be better off using words like “formal, informative, and dedicated.”
Brainstorm your list using words that could apply to your brand. You can find a list of more brand voice descriptors here. Then consider the tone and description of your voice. Will you use slang or formal language? Will you use long-winded sentences or short, pithy sentences?
These are all things to consider before writing content for your brand. Language is important in conveying your identity.
3. Use Relevant Imagery
Images you use on your website or any other materials your business puts out there must be high-resolution and quality, however, these are not the only factors you need to consider when selecting images for your website.
A picture really is worth a thousand words (or more). With that consideration, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Someone viewing your website, social media profiles, or brick-and-mortar business wants a real glimpse into the brand that they’re researching.
Many brands choose imagery as if it’s just a checkbox on a list of how to create a good brand. These images are often stock images that are vaguely related to the brand. But
why would you use imagery that’s open for public use to describe your brand– a brand that you want to position as unique?
You need to use original imagery that truly describes your brand and gives viewers an idea of what you’re like. Include images of your staff, your products, and services, your office. All of these original and unique images communicate a sense of trustworthiness to viewers because it’s more transparent and authentic.
4. The Essential Branding Info
Many businesses neglect to make use of this opportunity to distinguish themselves from others in their industry. No matter what your brand does, you should always have a page on your website describing who you are and what your brand values are. This is the chance to get explicit about your brand mission and vision and drive home what makes your brand unique as compared to your competitors.
Once you have that information on your site, you can use the same verbiage on social media, at networking events, and on marketing materials to uniquely position your brand.
This may not seem like it belongs in a discussion about branding, but it’s imperative to connect the dots between branding and business. If a person who wants to reach out to your business cannot find contact information, your brand is in serious trouble. You’re a business; you want people contacting you! Make sure anyone who goes out of their way to find how to contact you can do so easily. Include as many contact methods as possible: phone, email, physical address, hours of operation, etc.
5. Get Social
Many brands think of social media as a to-do item on a list to be a successful business. But social media is not just a nice addition to your brand– it’s an extension of your brand.
Think of it this way: there are more eyes on social media sites than there are on your website or inside your store. Instead of leveraging people off of social media, engage them directly where their attention is. Your social accounts should be just as active as you are in your business.
Be sure to link all of your social accounts to your site and make it easy for people to find your various social channels when they’re on your website. Social media should be a big part of your branding strategy.
The key to brand unity is to be sure to be consistent with your logo, brand colors, language, and imagery you use. Make it as easy as possible for people to learn about who you are, and make it easy for them to engage you where they’re already giving their attention. Want more guidance on unifying your brand’s identity? Reach out to CommCore Marketing today!
At this point, you get it: content is integral to your marketing efforts. You probably understand that it builds a foundation on which you can build your business because it gives you credibility and authority.
But to what ends are you creating this content?
At one point or another you’re going to hit a wall with content creation and wonder what this is all for. If you don’t know the answer to why you’re creating content, your passion and thoughts and ideas are going to dry up and fade away.
The reason behind your content creation should lie much deeper than to simply check off a box on a list of things to market your business well.
Your content is an extension of yourself— the written and spoken pieces of yourself that will stand out amongst the noise of all the other content out there.
So what do you want said?
If your voice isn’t heard, it doesn’t exist
It’s harsh but it’s true. There are plenty of voices out there and most of them are just adding noise. We can all agree that to at least be recognized, our voices need to be heard.
The culture, the value, the methodologies, and the things that go on behind the scenes in business are the things that really matter. If these things only exist inside your head, that’s fine and dandy, but if nobody knows about it, it doesn’t exist.
So you have to create content for the sake of being heard, for being seen, and for adding something of value to this world. Documentation is not a checkbox, it’s a means to creating something bigger than yourself.
That being said, if that “something bigger than yourself” isn’t seen or heard, it cannot actually be bigger than yourself.
Video is the best way to communicate your voice
The best way to get your voice out there and heard is through video. Period.
You may think this whole video marketing thing only applies to people who are extroverted and outgoing, but that’s not true.
There’s personality inside of everybody. You don’t have to be an off-the-wall, energetic person just to justify doing video. It’s okay to be yourself on video everyday.
Every single platform out there is tailoring to video. So if you’re going to create content that resonates, then you have to be on the cusp of what’s actually happening. Communication is never going away and it is always evolving.
This means your brand will forever have to learn how to communicate effectively. And in this modern day, that means being on video.
Consistency is the means to an end
Consistency is a marketing strategy. Just doing it once or twice isn’t going to work.
And it’s not just about staying consistent, it’s about retaining attention. Sure, your consistent videos may draw new attention, but are they retaining that attention?
That consistency is merely a strategy for building something bigger. There’s no guarantee you will retain attention just because you show up regularly.
You have to create that reason for people to show up.
Give your audience a reason to keep coming back
You have to strategize how you’ll retain attention. Don’t be that brand that fades out over time.
If you look at what’s going on inside your content strategy right now, is it driving people that show up multiple times a week? And if there are people who do show up multiple times a week, how many more can you get to do the same?
Your strategy for retaining attention is simple: develop authentic relationships with people using your content.
Give yourself a reason to keep creating content
If you want to be an ever-flowing source for content, you have to know why you’re creating it in the first place.
So is your content good enough to cut through the noise?
At the end of the day, you’re not just creating content to knock out your agenda or your client’s agenda. Where’s the greater meaning in that? We’re in business to tell our stories because these stories are worth being told.
So what are you really doing? If you’re just here to own a business, that’s all your content will communicate. Document what you want remembered.
Following through with your content
Are you inspired to create your content? Maybe so. Will you be just as inspired a week from now? A month? A year? Maybe not.
When you get all wrapped up in your to do list and your emotions, you exhaust yourself. You lose sight of what really matters.
So ask yourself: why are you creating content? Are you doing it because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do? Or are you creating it because you truly want to resonate with your audience?
Think about it. It’s not something you’re going to figure out after one day. It’s a continual process you work on everyday.
And as you figure out what you’re leaving behind, continue to document. Don’t just document the good stuff, document the bad stuff too. The best content is formed from storytelling.
So keep on documenting for the sake of something greater, and you will produce amazing content.
Laura DeVries, the director of communication and marketing for a St. Louis office, had an opportunity. During her 19 years of marketing experience, she recognized that small businesses and entrepreneurs needed marketing help in order to focus their attention on what they did best.
On the verge of transferring to another company, Laura instead decided to start her own business, CommCore Marketing.
Even though the timing was right and the opportunity was ideal, she had a problem. “My biggest obstacle was myself. I feared taking the plunge and failing,” she says.
Her scary moments built up fast when she became responsible for all aspects of her business. “Too many things were coming all at once and I struggled most with the technical side of running a business.”
Not willing to quit, Laura sought advice from small business owners she knew and respected. She asked questions. She asked for referrals and introductions. “Everyone was friendly, helpful and happy to offer guidance.” Laura advises anyone in a similar situation to reach out to their professional network.
Whenever doubts and fears roll in—what if the phone doesn’t ring?—Laura reaches out to her contacts again. “Take a step back and realize it’s going to fix itself, but you must be patient,” Laura says, while admitting patience can be tough some days. “Making it happen also requires setting realistic goals and being accountable to yourself.”
Working strange hours in order to spend time with the family is a great satisfaction. It’s rewarding to be in charge of her life, her business and her success.
Laura knew she was making a positive impact when she overheard one client tell a potential client that she now sleeps better through Laura’s help.
“Knowing that I’ve made that much difference for someone makes it all worthwhile.”
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Post provided by Kris Edens, a copywriting and blogging resource for small business. She resides in Festus and enjoys networking, writing and the entrepreneurial community.
What is a value statement? A value statement is a declaration of a business’s top priorities and beliefs. These are used not only to remind employees of what a business’s goals are, but to connect with targeted consumers.
Your value statement, like your brand, will set you apart from other businesses. When it comes down to it, what do you really want to accomplish with your business? What do you really want to engage in your potential customers to make them identify with you? Remember, your business isn’t just about what you want, it’s also about what your customers want.
With so much media clutter out there, it’s important to be unique. If you look and sound like everyone else, then you are just going to blend into the clutter — and that’s not what great brands do. How can you set yourself apart? Think about it from a consumer’s point of view. If you were a consumer looking for the services your kind of business offers, what would you want that business to look and feel like in order for you to trust it? What kind of priorities would you want that business to have to earn your business?
Answering these questions will not only help you determine what your values are, but they will help you determine your target market as well. People don’t want just a service or product — a service or product is the bare minimum. People want a service or product that they can relate to and makes them feel something. A value statement brings in those feelings that help people connect a service or product to their business needs. So decide what it is you value, and what you think it is that your customers value, and create a statement that cultivates those feelings.
As a graphic designer and marketing professional, I often work with new clients that already have an existing logo. To move forward using that logo, I ask them to send me their original logo artwork so I can start working on their content. Then comes the nagging question: “What file format should it be?” Despite answering this question time and again, I too frequently end up recreating the logo for my client because they didn’t receive the original artwork from their previous designer. This causes a big headache for the graphic designers. So, in order to save yourself time and money, here is an explanation of why .ai and .eps are the best formats in which to have your logo created:
What is an .Ai file?
AI stands for Adobe Illustrator. It is a vector-artwork based design program that makes it easy to work with original logo artwork. If you don’t have Illustrator installed on your computer and you’re on a Windows system, you can preview the artwork by changing the file extension from .ai to .pdf and open with Acrobat Reader. If you’re on a Mac, you can preview .ai files in the Preview application. Illustrator files are favorable for company logos because the program makes it easier to modify and manipulate the file.
What is an .Eps file?
EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. This is another common format that makes working with original logo artwork easy. I also find it easy to work with .eps files in Illustrator.
Why .Ai or .Eps and not .Jpeg files?
JPEG files are based on raster graphics. This means that the file is made up from a grid of squares called pixels. Once JPEG files are saved as a certain size, they can’t be manipulated without looking fuzzy– this is where the term “pixelated” comes from. AI and EPS files are based on vector graphics. Vector graphics are the opposite of raster graphics as they are based on points and curves that scale precisely. With these graphics, your logo can be manipulated without ever looking fuzzy. JPEGs are great for photographs, but not logos!
Why not .Png or .Gif?
PNGs and GIFs are great for logos when being used on the web. But when it comes to printing logos, PNG and GIF will still make the logo look pixelated unless the PNG file is very large. So in this case, it’s still better to work with AI and EPS files.
Some Other Tips
Ask your designer to include with your company logo all fonts and all high resolution images. There are different versions of Illustrator and different licensing for fonts that may not translate between systems. The safest bet is to include this information so anyone can open and edit the file.
I hope these tips are useful when it comes to working with your designer to make an easily accessible and versatile company logo!