What is a Brand Story? Differentiating Yourself From The Competition

With all the choices that consumers have in this day and age, just having a good product at a fair price point just isn’t going to cut it. Consumers don’t just care about the product (or service) they’re buying, they care who they’re buying it from, which is why your company’s brand identity is so important to your success. One of the important elements of your brand identity is your brand story. A lot of businesses mistakenly think that this is covered in their “about us” page on their website; however, your brand story is not the same thing as your company history. While your company history can be an important part of your brand story, your brand story involves the consumer as much as it involves your company and is absolutely essential in helping you to differentiate your company from your competition.

What Is A Brand Story?

A brand story is the narrative of your brand. It shouldn’t just provide information to the audience about who your company is, it should also tell consumers what your motivations are and should inspire an emotional reaction. For example, while the history of your company can play a role in your brand story, it’s arguably more important why you started the company than how you started it. This helps to get across your mission as well as your core values. Additionally, this allows you to address the consumer as a character in your story. The reason you started the company was to address a certain problem or need that your consumers have, after all.

Learn more about branding: Why Brand Development Matters and How it Works

Why Is Your Story Important?

There are dozens — if not hundreds — of companies that are similar to yours, whether they are competing directly with you or not. These companies may offer similar products that address similar needs to the same target audience. Simply saying that your products or services are better than theirs won’t get you far, even if you’re able to generate content that backs your statements. This is because consumers need to be able to connect with you on an emotional level. They want to relate to the brand that they choose. To do this, you need to differentiate yourself from your competition via your brand story.

A brand story makes it easier for consumers to connect with you due to the fact that storytelling has been an effective way to communicate messages and ideas throughout history. Using storytelling techniques in order to inform consumers about your company is going to make it much easier for them to stay engaged with you. There are several ways that you can do this. For example, you can position your company as the main protagonist whose goal it is to help the consumer or you can position the consumer as the main protagonist who must overcome an obstacle (a problem or need that the consumer has) with the help of your company (a solution in the form of your products or services).

When it comes down to it, creating a brand story helps differentiate your company from your competition while also making your brand more engaging for consumers, thereby making you more relatable on a personal level and more trustworthy as a result.

Creating Your Brand Story

Now that you understand what a brand story is and it’s importance, it’s time to develop your unique brand story:

  • Determine your company’s purpose

    What is your origin story? This doesn’t just refer to the date your company was founded, but why you decided to establish your business. What was your motivation? What is your mission? For example, maybe you realized that customer service within a certain industry was poor and you wanted to provide a better customer experience. Consumers want to know that there’s more to your company’s goals than just profit.

  • Understand who your audience is

    You can’t tell a story without an audience, and you need to know who you’re talking to in order to tell your story effectively. Your story should include your audience as a character, so you must know who your audience is. What are their main challenges, needs, and goals? Knowing this (along with more detailed demographic information) gives you a better understanding of how to tell an engaging story. It’s also why developing buyer personas is particularly helpful when it comes to your brand story.

  • Make sure your brand story remains consistent

    The products and services you sell need to align with your story. For example, if your main goal as a company is to provide an affordable alternative to a luxury product, then you can’t suddenly begin selling high-priced luxury items. Everything you do, from products and services to your marketing efforts, needs to align with your brand story. This means that you also need to maintain the same tone and messaging of your brand story across all platforms. A lack of consistency is going to hurt your brand identity and, in turn, hurt your trustworthiness.

  • Keep it simple

    Simple brand stories are easy for consumers to remember and make it easier for you to maintain consistency. If your story is too convoluted or long, you’ll lose the message and maintaining consistency across platforms becomes more difficult. It will also confuse your audience and help make your competitors’ brand stories appear more clear and well-defined.

  • Be authentic

    Make sure that your brand story actually represents who your brand is. Many companies try appealing to different audiences and adjust their story inauthentically to try making an emotional connection with them. This often happens if you don’t understand who your audience actually is. For example, if you run a clothing line that mostly middle-aged adults purchase but you want to break into the youth market, you might try to spice up your brand story to connect with a younger crowd by using younger slang and referring to pop culture or issues that you think they care about. However, consumers are smart — they can tell if a brand is being inauthentic and it won’t go over well.

  • Be personal

    Appeal to the emotions of your audience. You want them to feel something about your brand story. That’s why it’s important to be authentic about your motivations and your values. You should also make your audience part of your brand story so that it’s more relatable to them.

Your brand story is an important element of your brand identity and helps to emphasize what your brand’s message is. By creating a brand story and aligning your marketing efforts with that brand story, you’ll establish a foundation for who you are and what your company’s purpose is, thereby making it easier for consumers to relate and connect with your brand on a more personal level.

Learn The StoryBranding Process
Marketing Trends 2

What’s Trending in Marketing for August 2020

Staying current on marketing trends is especially important to assess whether your marketing efforts are harmonious with today’s evolving world. We know the difficulty of keeping up with these trends given the abundance of information thrown at us every day. The following articles highlight current August 2020 marketing trends that we think are worth paying attention to:

Noteworthy Marketing News

Hulu Launches Beta for Self-Serve Advertising Platform

In effort to combat the negative economic backlash of Covid-19, Hulu has created an opportunity for small businesses to use its platform. Hulu has recently launched a self-service advertisement program eligible for any company with a minimum ad budget as low as $500. The process is simple: a company creates and submits a 15-30 second creative video along with details on budget, date range, and an area to upload the ad to Hulu Ad Manager. Hulu approves or denies within 3 days. Brands also have the option to specify their target market by age, gender, genre and location. Hulu provides approved brands with a simple walk-through of set-up and launch. For this program, Hulu permits a maximum of one version of a creative video per campaign.

As part of its recent Enabling Dishonest Behavior Policy, Google Ads is banning any advertising for “spyware and surveillance technology” in both search and shopping starting August 11. Examples of services include fake passports, fake degrees or diplomas, drug test aids, exam or paper writing services, invalid reviews and clicks, and fake social media endorsements. Examples of unauthorized access includes hacking, cable-stealing, radar jamming technology, traffic signal changers, and phone/wiretapping. Google explains that its list is not exhaustive and only mentioned for example. Google exemplifies spyware as GPS trackers, cameras/recorders marketed for spying purposes, and software that monitors someone else’s texts and phone calls, with the exception of parents tracking underage children. Violators on Google Ads will receive a 7-day warning.

Social Short: Twitter Ad Engagement Drops, Snap Minis Launch, more brands pause Facebook Ads

Twitter’s ad revenues have fallen in the past years though daily active user rates have increased. However, Twitter’s CFO Ned Segal is confident in the rebuilding process of Twitter’s ad server. He expresses optimism for the future of advertisements on Twitter through the advantage the platform has for live events.  Snapchat reports a 17% increase in revenues. Though its audience is largely younger, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel found that the average number of users on the Discover page are in their thirties. Additionally, the platform has benefited from the increasing Facebook ad withdrawals. Twitter has also taken action against QAnon content, suspending thousands of accounts for sharing or associating with any “conspiracy theory-ridden content”.

Improving your Marketing Program

Lessons Learned: Buyer Persona Gone Wrong

Before a company can establish a solid marketing plan, it must be aware of the specific target markets or customer profiles it has the best chance to attract to its product or service. Creating a buyer persona is essential to effective attraction marketing. In order to perfect your approach in buyer persona launch, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

30 Ways to Boost Instagram Engagement & Following

Looking for ways to boost your social media brand presence? Knowing how to increase brand engagement on Instagram, the latest and hippest social media platform app, is a great start. People are online all day due to working from home. Virtual shopping has risen due to restrictions and pandemic fears. As we have geared toward a more online world, your brand’s presence on the web is more important now than ever. According to Forbes, 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business or brand, and 200 million users on Instagram visit business profiles daily. 70% of users turn to Instagram to look up a brand, and 60% learn about new products using Instagram. Now is the time to catch up with the competition that is already using these trends to their advantage.

Istanbul, Turkey – December 15, 2018: Person holding a brand new Apple iPhone X with Instagram profile on the screen. Instagram is an online mobile social networking service, launched in October 2010.

5 Ways to Improve Your B2B Marketing Strategy

B2B marketing can be a challenging endeavor, especially if you don’t have a clear cut marketing strategy in place. To have any hope of running a successful B2B marketing campaign, you’ll need to establish what your goals are. Once you’ve done so, you should implement marketing strategies that will support those goals and help you achieve them. The following are five B2B marketing tips that you should use to help improve your marketing efforts.

Free Digital Marketing Tools To Cope With COVID-19

Recent Marketing Reports, Updates, and Trends

No in-person events until 2nd half of 2021, marketers say

According to a recent Marketing Land survey of 300 people, 3 out of 10 people responded that they anticipate attending in-person events in the first half of 2021. In another survey, 70% of respondents plan to attend solely online events until a Covid-19 vaccine emerges.

U.S. Mobile Ad Spending Update

In March, E Marketer’s Mobile Ad Spending Report forecasted that the pandemic would cause a 20% increase in mobile ad spending, but they have now updated this expectancy and reduced it to 4.8% growth. Among mobile advertising results, location-based advertising has suffered, and gaming and streaming video apps have done well. This year’s lost growth in mobile ad spending will affect overall spending through at least 2024.

COVID-19 Is the Asteroid That Struck American Small Business

Positive news regarding the virus is 78% of small businesses report being able to survive 7 to 12 months or more with existing cash on hand, and 57% could last over a year. Restaurants suffered primarily, as there were over 133,000 business closures total and of the 26,000 Yelp restaurants that have been closed since March, 60% were now permanently closed. A majority of 92% of businesses report pivoting strategy in at least one way form the pandemic. The most common change was a creation of delivery channel, and 96% of businesses reported planning to keep some new services and channels post-pandemic, while 43% will maintain all changes. Find out more on Search Engine Land.

 

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30 Ways to Boost Instagram Engagement & Following

Looking for ways to boost your social media brand presence? Knowing how to increase brand engagement on Instagram, the latest and hippest social media platform app, is a great start. People are online all day due to working from home. Virtual shopping has risen due to restrictions and pandemic fears. As we have geared toward a more online world, your brand’s presence on the web is more important now than ever.

Why Instagram?

According to Forbes, 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business or brand, and 200 million users on Instagram visit business profiles daily. 70% of users turn to Instagram to look up a brand, and 60% learn about new products using Instagram. Now is the time to catch up with the competition that is already using these trends to their advantage.

Here is a compilation of our 30 best marketing tips for businesses to grow Instagram engagement and following in 2020:

Instagram Profile and Posting Habits

  1. Get to know the Instagram app and master how to use its basic features such as uploading posts and stories.
  2. Write a compelling Instagram bio and integrate it into your brand personality.
  3. Keep posts visually consistent to meet your brand’s style guide and tone.
  4. Incorporate categorized pinned stories on your Instagram page so it is easily navigable and can be used as a resource for sharing your brand identity to consumers.
  5. Optimize captions using brand hashtags and relevant hashtags with high popularity. (Determine if a hashtag is trending by typing the hashtag in the instagram search bar to see how many posts come up with the hashtag.)
  6. Use tools such as Hashtagsforlikes to optimize hashtags to use for your business sector.
  7. Create and promote a specific branded hashtag for a campaign. Encourage others to share the hashtag with it theming around a relevant, trending topic that consumers are passionate about.
  8. Use local hashtags and geotags on posts in order to attract local users on Instagram in a similar way SEO works for the web.
  9. Post consistently with both posts and stories, including videos, polls, and other interactive elements to keep followers engaged and entertained with your content. 
  10. Start conversations using Instagram stories stickers and polls.
  11. Schedule Instagram stories to generate more views.
  12. Keep in mind that 40% of Instagram videos do not have sound on, so ensure you caption relevant verbal content.
  13. Convert instagram followers into email subscribers by making your Instagram a business account and promoting your email subscriptions in your Instagram posts and stories.
  14. Monitor your tagged photos to ensure a good reputation, and un-tag your account on posts that are irrelevant or spam, so they do not appear on your profile.
  15. Add a link to instagram stories in order to generate website traffic.
  16. Use humor through gif’s and memes to execute your brand message through a creative angle.

Increasing your Instagram following

  1. Optimize SEO on instagram by paying vital attention to your Instagram handle and name. It is very important that your handle (@…) reflects your business industry. Try to make it short, sweet, and with relevant words. The account name should reflect the account handle and industry because it is what Instagram checks its searches against when users type a word or emoji in the search bar.
  2. Partner with micro influencers.
  3. Run a contest, giveaway, or raffle entry through your account page.
  4. Invest in Instagram ads, which targets customers with personalization and buyer persona techniques.
  5. Create “savable” content, or posts that are aesthetically pleasing, informationally useful or relevant. This will entice followers to save the content to their library and increases the chances of further brand awareness. Simultaneously, creating desirable content provides people a reason to continue following your page and share your content.
  6. Participate in popular conversations on accounts with high following and public relevance in order to get your instagram handle out there and quickly generate new followers.
  7. Encourage followers to re-share your Instagram stories through incentives of discount promotion codes and/or contests.
  8. Open up about your business with a weekly featured vlog of the day in the life of an employee, an interesting biographical picture and captioned story of the founders, or inspirational quote from the CEO.
  9. Follow relevant accounts and users following competition in your industry to gain followers back.
  10. Promote your Instagram on other social media accounts. Feature your Instagram account in your Twitter and Facebook bios, and make a post promoting your Instagram page with a link.
  11. If your Facebook has many likes or followers already, consider linking your Facebook and Instagram together to boost your Instagram following.

6 Social Media Trends to Follow in 2020

Keeping Track of your Instagram Performance

  1. Ensure your account is in business mode to automatically receive valuable insights and analytics on how your posts are doing.
  2. Regularly test and analyze new content to post to your Instagram.
  3. Use a free follower tracking app to regularly unfollow accounts that do not follow yours back in order to maintain a good follower/following ratio while continuously following new accounts.

We hope these 30 tips with various resources serve you well on your journey to becoming an Instagram lead-generation powerhouse. Happy “gram-ing”!

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6 Tips for Choosing an Advertising Agency

Marketing your company is a must if you have any hope for success. Unfortunately, marketing your company effectively can be very time-consuming and can require a significant amount of resources. It’s why many businesses choose to outsource to an advertising agency. There are many reputable agencies out there to choose from; however, there are also plenty of agencies that can do more harm than good. To make sure that the money you spend on an agency will actually translate to real results, use the following tips to hire the right advertising agency:

1. Find an Advertising Agency That Focuses on Cultureadvertising agency

There are a lot of different factors that you should consider when comparing advertising agencies. However, one of the most important ones is the cultural fit. Make sure that the agency you hire shares the same core values as your business. A good agency that shares your values will be more collaborative and innovative. You should be able to get some sense of their culture by observing their work environment as well. If people seem active and cheerful at the same time, it’s a good sign.

2. Consider The Agency’s Talent

Arguably as important as an agency’s culture is their talent. Without talent, their culture will only take you so far. You want to work with an agency that isn’t conservative. This means that they’re not always looking to play it safe. You want an agency that’s ambitious and that is constantly looking to improve its abilities. You’ll also want to make sure that they are technologically literate. Speak with their HR team to learn about the types of people they tend to look for and hire. You should also look at their turnover rate. A high turnover rate tends to be an issue. It means that they’re either not hiring the right type of talent or that their talent tends to look elsewhere because the agency is a bad fit.

3. Don’t Rule Out Agencies Based On Location

Don’t limit your search for an advertising agency to your location. Location no longer means that much. After all, you don’t need to have in-person meetings with your agency all that often. In today’s connected world, it’s easy to keep in touch using email, online chat, video conferencing, and by phone. Additionally, it can actually benefit your company to look for an agency that’s outside of your area as it could provide you with an outside perspective. Such a perspective can really help freshen up your marketing efforts. By limiting your search to your location, you’ll limit your access to quality agencies and unique perspectives.

4. Don’t Rely Solely on RFPs

RFPs (requests for proposals) can be quite helpful, but you shouldn’t base your decision solely on an RFP. Many agencies excel at RFPs but only because they are opportunistic. When you review an RFP, speak with the agency’s leadership to get a feel for how passionate they are about the work that they do. Ask them about some of their greatest successes as well as some of their failures. The way an agency talks about their past failures can be very enlightening. After all, you’ll want an agency that is willing to reflect on its failures and learn from them.

5. Don’t Make Low Prices Your Main Priority

If you’re working with a limited advertising budget to begin with, you might be tempted to go with the agency that offers the most affordable rates. However, keep in mind that like with most things, you get what you pay for. If you go with the cheapest agency, it may result in lower quality work. They may even cut corners, which is the last thing you want when it comes to implementing a successful long-term advertising strategy.

6. Look Into Their Track Record

Do a little research into an agency’s past and current clients to get an idea of how effective they are as an advertising agency. If the agency has been around for a while, take note of its long-term clients. Clients that have stuck with them for a long time are a good indication of the agency’s quality and commitment. If an agency has a large turnover when it comes to clients, it’s often a bad sign. Be sure to ask the agency for references that you can contact as well.

Interactive Speaking & Marketing Consulting Experiences

Outsourcing your marketing efforts is generally a good way to save money over the long run and to ensure that you have an experienced team that you can rely on. Unfortunately, not all advertising agencies are reliable or even reputable, for that matter. As such, make sure that you use these six tips to find an advertising agency that will work closely with you to help you achieve your specific marketing goals.

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5 Reasons to Use HubSpot

There are a lot of marketing platforms out there that can be incredibly helpful when it comes to creating, managing, and tracking your marketing and sales efforts. Out of these platforms, HubSpot is one of the very best. The following are five reasons to consider using HubSpot as one of your main inbound marketing tools:

1. HubSpot Functions As An All-In-One Marketing Platform

One of the biggest advantages of HubSpot is that it’s much easier to build a holistic marketing strategy because it allows you to do so many things. With it, you can monitor your contacts, nurture your leads, or track your performance. Not to mention that you can do all of this for the majority of your marketing strategies. This includes SEO, email marketing, CRM, content marketing, marketing automation, database management, and more.

Few marketing platforms are this comprehensive. Typically, businesses have to use multiple marketing tools to oversee their campaigns. Using HubSpot makes things easier, more efficient, and often less costly.

2. Use HubSpot To Create And Manage Your Contact Listwebsite redesign checklist

One of the big challenges facing many businesses is managing an unorganized database that’s not directly connected to their sales or marketing strategy. You can segment your contact list with HubSpot, ensuring that your contacts receive information that they want to engage with.

Because you’ll be able to manage all of your marketing efforts from the HubSpot platform, you’ll be able to segment your contacts based on where they are in the sales funnel. This makes it easier to nurture leads and identify which leads your sales team can engage with.

3. Provides Excellent Reporting Features

The more control you have over being able to track the ins and outs of your campaign, the more accurately you’ll be able to judge your marketing strategies. This in turn will allow you to make more effective adjustments on the fly. HubSpot allows you to track and measure every aspect of your inbound marketing campaign by providing clear breakdowns of your social media strategies, blogging efforts, landing page success, email engagement, and much more.

In fact, their Reports Dashboard makes it easy to view these metrics at a glance. The dashboard offers the ability to see your overall performance data. You can even build custom reports that meet your company’s unique needs.

Similar Article: Choosing Hubspot CRM As Your CRM Solution

4. An Effective Long-Term Solution

HubSpot understands that most inbound marketing campaigns are long-term campaigns. As such, the marketing platform is built to oversee your campaigns over the long term. It’s scalable as well, so no matter how big your company’s marketing needs grow, HubSpot can handle them.

5. HubSpot Allows You To Obtain A Clear ROIartificial intelligence

It used to be a real challenge to determine what your ROI (return on investment) was for your inbound marketing campaign, especially if it was spread over multiple marketing platforms.  HubSpot makes it easy to obtain a clear ROI for your entire inbound strategy due to it’s ability to track and measure every aspect of your campaign. This will allow you to make more financially motivated adjustments based on your marketing budget as well.

As you can see, HubSpot addresses a number of different aspects of creating and managing an inbound marketing campaign in an efficient manner. With all its features and general ease-of-use, there are few marketing tools that can offer what HubSpot offers.

Inbound marketing will help you grow your business by attracting website visitors, converting them into leads and closing leads into customers

5 Tips on How to Market to Gen Z

When it comes to marketing strategies and marketing trends, millennials receive a great deal of attention these days. However, they are not the only generation that businesses should focus on. Generation Z already has buying power, and it won’t be long until they overtake the Millennial generation as the largest generation. In fact, anyone born after 1996 is considered part of Generation Z, which means that there have already been five years worth of Gen Z adults that you should be marketing to. The following are five tips to take note of on how to market to Gen Z.

1. Stand For Something

While focusing on how your products and services fulfill the needs of your customers is important, it will be difficult to stand apart from the crowd when it comes to getting Gen Z’s attention. They were raised on the Internet, so doing research and finding solutions to their problems is second nature to them. They have no trouble finding multiple options. In fact, the options are practically limitless for them. Consequently, they care more about what a brand stands for.

Gen Z is more aware of environmental, socio-economic, and political issues at their age than arguably any other generation. They look for brands that are eco-friendly or support their political views. This means that you can’t remain neutral. Stand for what your company believes in and you’ll be more likely to gain the support of your Gen Z audience.

2. Focus on earning brand loyalty through engagement

Gaining a new customer is far more difficult — and more expensive — than retaining an existing customer. This means you should focus on building brand loyalty among Gen Z customers. The best way to do this is by engaging with them in a meaningful and authentic way. The challenge lies in the fact that Gen Z is much less brand-oriented. They are more likely to become loyal to your company as a result of how you interact with them than any other tactic (such as offering loyalty rewards).

First of all, don’t push your products on them. When engaging with Gen Z customers, make sure it’s a two-way street. Listen to what they say. Don’t use sales jargon and don’t lie. Be personable. Offer them opportunities to participate, whether it’s by hosting brand-sponsored events, allowing them to submit ideas or feedback, or even letting them contribute content.

Explore more about How Businesses Are Using Brand Ambassador Programs To Increase Brand Awareness And Trust

3. Emphasize Mobile Marketing

Most of Gen Z won’t remember a time when they didn’t use mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets. A survey published by IBM indicates that Gen Z prefers using their smartphones over other devices by 75 percent. Take advantage of this by making sure your website is mobile-friendly and that you employ mobile marketing techniques. You may want to develop an app to improve their user experience on their smartphones even more.

4. Understand How They Use Social Media

When it came to previous generations, figuring out social media wasn’t that difficult — everyone was on Facebook and Twitter. While Gen Z still uses these channels, many prefer other platforms. Channels like Facebook aren’t popular with younger consumers because of the fact that they are more family-oriented. Gen Z is more interested in visual-based social media channels that allow them to engage in a more personal way with others and that provide a creative outlet. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Snapchat and Instagram are the two most popular channels among the Gen Z crowd.

5. Invest In Influencer Marketing

Even though certain tactics, such as Google and Facebook Ads, can still be effective, Gen Z tends to respond more to influencer marketing. Influencers on platforms like Instagram have huge amounts of sway with their followers. Their significance makes them a great tool for promoting your products and services to a younger audience that’s relevant to your brand.

Keep these five tips in mind when marketing to Gen Z. While many members of Gen Z aren’t adults yet, we know more Gen Z individuals will become adults in the coming years. As such, they should be the generation that you focus more of your marketing on, which is why learning how to market to Gen Z is so important. Get a head start on your competition by beginning to tailor your marketing efforts to the needs of Gen Z now.

Learn To Use Social Media To Find New Leads

4 Essential Brand Components

There’s a common misconception that many people have that a “brand” is basically just the name of the company and the logo that they use. While these elements contribute to the overall brand of a business, the term “brand” is actually much more comprehensive than that. It involves many different components, which is why it takes a lot of thought in order to successfully develop your brand. The following are the four main brand components that you will need to address when building your brand and what kinds of strategies you can put into place to further develop those components.

1. Brand Identity

Your brand identity is how you want your brand to be perceived. It’s important that you know what your brand identity is and what you want it to be. If you don’t, how is anyone else supposed to know? You’re going to have a tough time generating brand awareness if you lack a strong brand identity. The following are a few steps that you should take to establish your brand identity:

  • Identify your mission

    What was the reason you established your company in the first place? What is your company’s goal? Consumers want to know what your mission is (and they don’t want to hear that it’s “to make a profit”) and it will reflect who you are as a company.

  • Establish your unique value proposition

    Your unique value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors. It’s a statement of how your offer benefits your customers, how you will meet the needs of your customers, and what makes your offer unique. Every marketing campaign you run should align with your unique value proposition.

  • Create your brand’s visual identity

    The visual elements of your brand certainly factor into your brand identity. Just consider the logos and color palettes of some of the biggest companies out there, from Facebook’s simple logo and use of blue to McDonald’s golden arch and yellow and red palette. A strong logo that’s instantly recognizable is important, but so is choosing your colors. Different colors have different meanings and the colors you choose can have a psychological impact on your audience as well. For example, many fast-food restaurants use red and yellow because that combination of colors is thought to stimulate the appetite. Just keep in mind that consistency is key. If you decide to use shades of blue in your logo and on your website, then you should use those same colors for your social media pages, email newsletters, and physical location as well.

  • Increase brand recognition

    It’s going to take some time to get your vision of your brand identity out to the masses. You’ll want to generate awareness of your brand to do this through a variety of marketing efforts, such as building a website that emphasizes your mission and unique value proposition, creating content that’s optimized for SEO, using social media to engage with consumers and to post your content, and more. It’s also vital that you make sure your mission, unique value proposition, and visual identity are consistent across all platforms. If it’s not, it will end up hurting your brand identity.

2. Brand Image

Your brand image is similar to your brand identity in that it deals with how your brand is perceived. However, whereas your brand identity is how you want your brand to be perceived, brand image is how your brand is actually perceived. Consider your brand image as the reputation you currently have with the general public. Take for example United Airlines. Not long ago, they updated their brand design in an attempt to strengthen their brand identity as a “thoughtful, modern, and innovative airline.” However, their brand identity and brand image are currently quite different from each other after numerous massive PR failures regarding their customer service. Keeping that in mind, the following are a few ways to build and maintain a positive brand image:

  • Spread your message via PR

    Use public relations to spread your key messages as well as relevant news concerning your company. You can do this through news outlets, trade publications, and even online blogs. Public relations will help you raise awareness of your brand and what you’re doing, thereby helping to improve your brand image.

  • Establish a social presence

    Social media is an incredibly effective way to build your brand image, whether it’s by sharing content with consumers, keeping consumers up to date on the latest news and product launches, spreading awareness of your message, and engaging with consumers on a personal level. In fact, you can even use social media to address negative comments. It’s a good way to repair potential damage done to your brand image as a result of a poor customer experience by showing that you care and trying to correct the situation.

  • Create high-quality content

    Content will help to increase brand awareness by bringing in more web traffic. However, it can also help to build your brand authority. By publishing content that is relevant to your company and to your audience (and that’s of high quality), you’ll become a trustworthy source of information, which — in turn — will help improve your reputation and increase brand trust.

Explore more about defining and developing your brand: Why brand development matters and how it works

3. Brand Culture

Brand culture refers to your company’s core values and how you set an example for those values. Businesses have always

emphasized certain values; however, those values were often things like “reliability” or “honesty.” Values that are more equivalent to basic ethics. While those are important values to hold onto, more and more businesses have begun taking moral stances as well as political stances in addition to generally accepted values. These types of values feed into your brand culture as well. Take Nike for example. They have taken strong social positions by running commercials backing Colin Kaepernick and recently touting the importance of the women’s U.S. soccer team’s World Cup win. These are branding efforts touting their championing of equality, which has become a part of their brand culture. The following are a few tips to help you establish your brand culture:

  • Define your values

    Define exactly what your values are and how your company lives out those values. Don’t be afraid of taking a stance if there’s a particular stance that you want to take. Using the Nike example again, their backing of Kaepernick was considered controversial and plenty of consumers did not agree with their position. However, those that did agree with their position became even more strongly aligned with Nike’s brand. You can’t please everyone, but by sticking to your values, you’ll be more likely to strengthen your relationship with many of your customers.

  • Spread awareness of your values

    Let consumers know about your values by declaring them on your website or by encouraging discussion about your values on social media. Publishing content that backs your values is an effective method as well.

  • Ensure that your company reflects your values

    There’s nothing consumers hate more than a hypocrite. If you’re flaunting your support for equal pay across social media and in your marketing efforts, then you better be practicing what you preach. Your brand culture is incredibly dependent on your ability to embrace your own values within your company.

4. Brand Personality

Your brand personality refers to the human characteristics that your company has. Developing a brand personality is vital to connecting with your audience on an emotional level and for making your brand relatable. Because of this, make sure that you use the following tips to develop your brand personality:

  • Learn who your audience is

    Understanding your audience is something that you need to do from the very beginning. It’s an important step in building your brand identity as well. However, it’s particularly important when it comes to developing your brand personality. The way you present yourself and the way that you communicate should reflect not only who the audience is but what they expect. For example, if you have a younger audience, then a dry, formal tone may not resonate with them. However, if your audience is older, using younger slang and current pop culture references may go over their heads.

  • Engage with your audience

    While you can get your personality across in the content you write, it’s easier to do through engaging with people. It’s why using social media is so important. Your entire audience sees your interactions and it helps establish your personality a certain way. For example, Wendy’s has a reputation for having a playful personality because of their use of humor and the pretend feuds that they get into with other brands on Twitter.

  • Be consistent in tone

    If you’re going to be funny and informal on one platform, you need to make sure that personality carries over to all of the other platforms you use, both online and offline. If you’re inconsistent, it will hurt your ability to develop a cohesive brand personality, which will only confuse your audience.

These are the four main brand components that you will need to address when developing your brand strategy. A strong brand requires a strong brand identity, brand image, brand culture, and brand personality. Implementing a successful brand strategy that develops all four of these components increases brand trust, loyalty, and awareness.

Learn The StoryBranding Process
what is brand strategy

Long-term essentials: What is a brand strategy?

The term “brand” gets thrown around a lot these days. When people think about a brand, they often think about the name of the company and its logo. For example, Nike and its swoosh. However, these are just elements of their brand. Your brand encompasses much more than just your name and logo. Your brand is about your unique selling proposition, what your company stands for, how you engage with consumers, and more. As a result, you’re going to need to create a brand strategy. What is a brand strategy? A brand strategy involves building your brand identity and reputation as well as increasing brand awareness. A good brand strategy will consist of the following eight essentials:

1. Establish Your Brand Strategy Goals

Without goals, a strategy isn’t a strategy. How are you supposed to measure the performance of any of your branding efforts if you don’t have any goals to measure them against, after all? As such, you need to establish clearly defined goals at the outset. These need to be long-term goals. What are your main business goals? Do you want to reach a new audience? Do you want to be an industry leader? Your brand strategy will vary based on what your main goals are — and while every company’s goal is to “make money,” you need to get a little more specific than this.

2. Maintain Brand Consistency

In order to increase brand awareness, you need to strengthen your brand identity. One of the most important elements of a strong brand identity is consistency. All of your branding efforts need to be consistent across all platforms. If your tone is generally somber (for example, if your company provides funeral services or sells anxiety medication), then posting wacky memes or pictures of cats onto your Facebook page isn’t going to be consistent with your brand. Doing so will only confuse your audience, especially if they jump from one platform to another. For instance, if they’re on your Facebook page and they decide to visit your website and your branding isn’t consistent, they’ll be unsure as to whether they’re in the right place. A lack of consistency causes doubt into what your company is and does, which is not going to help you retain your audience or capture new leads.

The key to maintaining brand consistency is to maintain the same tone and to always keep your message in mind. All of your branding efforts should align with that message. Even the aesthetic of your brand needs to remain consistent. You can’t just have different logos or different color schemes for each platform you use. Consistency is important because it helps to contribute to brand recognition, which is vital when it comes to building customer loyalty.

Learn more about brand development: Why Brand Development Matters and How it Works

3. Avoid Short-Term Brand Building

While getting immediate results would be nice, you don’t want to sacrifice long-term brand building for short-term results. Successful brands take years to build and require continuous work and consistency. It can be easy to lose focus of your long-term goals when you see other companies implement branding tactics that appear to be successful. Just because it works for one company doesn’t mean it will work for you — especially if what they’re doing doesn’t align with your goals. For example, one brand might put out a video that goes viral. Creating a similar video does not guarantee similar results, especially if it’s not in line with your existing branding efforts. You should also be careful about following the latest trends within your industry. Many branding trends are often short-term tactics that may hurt your long-term strategy.

4. Create An Emotional Connection

Branding isn’t just about putting information about your company out into the world in the hopes that consumers remember why your product or service is the best one available. Consumers don’t always use rational thought to justify their purchases, after all. It’s why you need to engage consumers on an emotional level. Not only are they more likely to purchase products from a brand that they can relate to emotionally, but they are more likely to be loyal as a result. The reason behind this is simple: humans have an innate need to belong and to feel a connection.

When building your brand, you need to figure out how you can foster such an emotional connection. It’s why you need to make sure your branding efforts engage consumers on a personal level. Many businesses employ a more informal marketing strategy as a result as its easier to connect to. Developing a brand personality or even putting a face behind your brand makes it easier for audiences to connect to you as well. Take, for example, Apple’s commercials in which a young actor wearing casual clothes and speaking in a friendly, informal manner represented Apple, while an older actor dressed in a suit with a more formal demeanor represented Microsoft. Apple used these commercials to connect to their younger audience, essentially showing younger, hipper consumers that they were just like them.

5. Involve Your Employees

One of the most important ways to maintain brand consistency is by involving your employees. You’ll want to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the tone and message of your brand. For example, if you’re pushing a more informal and playful tone on your social media pages, then you’ll want your customer service reps to follow that tone. The last thing you want is for someone who follows your brand on social media to call your company only to speak with someone who is incredibly dry and informal. This lack of consistency may not fool consumers, but it will hurt your ability to build brand loyalty.

Consumers are expecting a certain kind of experience and engagement as a result of your branding and if they don’t get something similar when actually interacting with your employees, they will likely be let down. It’s why you should make sure that your employees understand your message, goals, and tone so that they can accurately represent your brand when speaking or engaging with consumers, whether it’s over the phone, via email or online chat, or even in your physical location.

6. Reward Loyalty

Customers who have already showcased loyalty to your brand can help strengthen your brand. Such customers will often go out of their way to recommend your brand to others, whether it’s by writing reviews, providing testimonials, or simply recommending products and services to friends and colleagues over social media. There is nobody consumers trust more than another consumer. That is why you should turn to these types of customers to act as brand ambassadors on your behalf.

Reach out to customers who have made multiple purchases with a personal thank you note. Ask them to write a review for you. Thank them for any reviews that they have written. Engage them on social media. You can even reward their loyalty with something like a discount or a special offer. These kinds of efforts don’t go unnoticed and will help to further encourage their loyalty. Making such efforts in public (such as on social media) can help highlight your relationship with your best customers, which will strengthen your brand’s reputation and entice other consumers.

7. Track Your Competitors

Your competition is likely targeting the same audience you are. It’s why it’s worth your effort to keep an eye on what they’re doing to build their brand. While you don’t necessarily want to copy their ideas and tactics (remember, short-term tactics may not benefit you in the long run if they don’t align with your goals), you do want to track what their strategy is and whether or not their tactics prove to be effective. This can help you identify tactics that work and to figure out why they worked or didn’t work. This information can be incredibly beneficial for your own branding strategy since it can allow you to avoid certain pitfalls.

You can also track your competition by following what consumers are saying about them. You can see what positive things people are saying about your competition and use that information to your advantage. Negative comments can also be helpful as they can allow you to address a need your competition isn’t addressing. For instance, if you notice that consumers are complaining because a competitor is difficult to get a hold of, you can make sure that this won’t be the case for you by offering various channels of communication to your audience.

8. Be Flexible

While you don’t want to jump on the latest branding tactics just because they’re trending, you do want to remain flexible. For example, your branding goals may end up changing over time, so you’ll want to adjust your branding strategy accordingly. Additionally, some short-term branding tactics may actually align with your goals and could benefit your long-term strategy. You shouldn’t be afraid to deviate from your existing strategy in order to adopt such tactics. Flexibility is important to your brand’s continuous success.

 

No brand strategy is the same, nor should it be. Your brand strategy should align with what your goals are. However, these are eight essential tips to keep in mind when creating your brand strategy. Just remember, don’t expect overnight results. Building your brand is a long-term strategy that never ends — you should continue to build your brand even as you gain success. While consistency is important, change is inevitable, whether it’s your products and services that change, your customers that change, or your market that changes.

buyer persona guide for business

6 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Conference

There are hundreds of manufacturing conferences that are held every year around the country. As the owner of a manufacturing business, it would do you a lot of good to attend just one of these conferences. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t make the time to attend any of them. There’s a chance that you may not have gone because you simply weren’t aware that these conferences were being held. It’s more likely that you’re afraid that they won’t be worth your time. As a business owner, time is precious. You don’t want to waste what time you have traveling to and from a conference that may have nothing new to offer. If this is your line of thinking, then you should strongly reconsider. The following are six significant reasons why you should attend a conference:

1. Find New Prospects

Building relationships with existing clients shouldn’t be your only goal. You’ll find that conferences are attended by many prospects as well. They may be looking to educate themselves about the industry before they even choose a manufacturer to work with. This allows them to make a more informed decision. As such, these conferences are a great opportunity to introduce yourself to potential prospects, thereby giving you a better chance at closing new customers.

2. Build Relationships With Existing Clients

There’s a very good chance that you’ll run into existing clients at one of these conferences. Clients often attend a conference in order to better educate themselves about the industry. Doing so gives them the confidence that they’re investing their money responsibly. They also use these conferences as a way to network. By showing up as well, you’ll be able to interact with existing clients and to build your relationships with them. Not only is it a great opportunity to re-engage, but they’ll also see that you’re taking the effort to improve your business. This, in turn, helps to build trust in your brand, which will improve your chances of turning them into brand evangelists.

Learn how you can further increase your brand awareness: How To Drive Brand Awareness

3. Meet Experts And Influencers

Networking with clients and potential clients is important, but those aren’t the only people worth meeting at these manufacturing conferences. You will also listen to and meet numerous experts and influencers within your field. Building relationships with these people can be incredibly beneficial as well. For example, experts can provide you with advice that can help you solve issues that your company is currently having. Influencers can be key in helping you find new customers or discovering new markets that your company could enter.

4. Learn New Approaches And Ideas

Attending conferences isn’t just about networking (although it’s an excellent opportunity to do so), it’s also about learning. Most conferences will schedule a list of speakers from throughout the industry. They will also hold numerous workshops that you can participate in. It’s a great way to better educate yourself about your industry and to learn about new approaches and ideas about the manufacturing process, your business strategy, or your marketing strategy, to name a few potential subjects. As a business owner, you should always be looking for ways that you can improve your company. Knowledge is power when it comes to not just surviving in the industry, but succeeding in it.

Staying up to date on all the latest trends within the manufacturing industry can be a real challenge in itself. Not only do you need to keep up to date with the latest technologies, tools, and strategies, but you need to figure out which are worth implementing. Conferences are a great way to learn about the latest trends. For example, new manufacturing technology may be presented at the conference that you can learn about. Additionally, going to a conference is a good way to learn about the trends that are actually worth following, thereby giving you a better idea as to whether they will benefit your company.

6. Speak About Your Own Business

Conferences give you the chance to speak publicly about your business. This can help to generate interest in what you’re doing, thereby building your brand name and reputation. However, it also provides you with practice pitching your company and its services. Refining this skill will come in handy whenever you’re speaking with prospects in the future.

These are six reasons why you should attend a conference. Attending a manufacturing conference can not only help to educate you about different aspects of the industry, but it can also help you stay up to date on the latest trends as well as to network with hundreds — if not thousands — of people within your industry that are worth knowing.

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brand development

Why Brand Development Matters and How it Works

Branding is more than just creating a logo and slapping it on a website or the side of a van. Developing your brand takes time, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results. Your brand makes you recognizable to consumers and without having it clearly established, your company becomes lost in the crowd. You want to impress your prospects and brand development does a lot of the work for you. Get ready to put your other projects aside, because right now, developing your brand matters most.

Developing your strategy

Brand development is a multi-stage process with the ultimate goal of building brand equity in a consumer’s mind. Brand equity is an intangible set of assets that cannot be tracked on a balance sheet. But, the value of that equity is the most valuable asset a company can own. Think about Kraft, Amazon, Apple, Steve Carell or Servpro. What emotional ties do you have with these brands?

Developing a brand must be part of the larger marketing plan for the company. It is often the biggest challenge, but the most critical. You don’t have to invest millions to develop your brand, but making the effort will pay off.

You first need an understanding of the clients you want to reach. Don’t assume you already know them, and instead take the time to do some research. You want to figure out your brand’s buyer persona. This includes your audience’s demographic and even their psychographics, such as their goals and motivations. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they want to see from you. From there, you can be sure you’re focusing your brand on the correct target audience.

Defining your brand

Next, focus on your brand definition. This definition can be in the form of a story or statement that clearly reflects what your brand is all about. Your marketing team will help you define what you are offering, how your target audience will benefit from it, what guarantees your offer, and what your unique selling proposition (USP) is. Remember to ask the question, what can this brand do or stand for that no other brand can say?

Think of what valuable services your company provides to customers that make their lives better. In order to compete with other brands, you need to have key differentiators that set you apart. Make a list of all you have to offer and then determine which unique offer stands out the most. This can be your lead differentiator you use in your branding when trying to appeal to your target audience.

Logo and Slogan

For your next step, you want to design a logo. Your logo should help convey your message to the audience you want to reach. Also, keep in mind that your logo is like the face of your brand, because it’s often the first thing people recognize. For example, if you think about Starbucks, McDonald’s or Louis Vuitton, their logo probably immediately comes to mind.

Now, you need to consider creating a slogan. This is part of letting your customers know what your company is about. Your slogan needs to be concise and relevant to your business. If you have trouble coming up with one on your own, consider using a slogan generator. You might also include your slogan in your logo, or create another version of your logo with the slogan in it that you can use, when suitable, to further establish your brand.

You know your buyer persona, you have your logo and slogan, now examine your company goals. How do you want consumers to see you? You need to make your brand strategy align with your goals and ideals in order to be consistent with your business. This step is important, because if you do not get it right, the rest of your brand strategy will fail. Take time to evaluate different possibilities and narrow it down to the one you think works best for you. This doesn’t have to be a one person job. Put together a team or get in contact with a marketing company for a fresh perspective.

Still unsure? Check out: The Brand Development Process Demystified 

Growing your brand

You’ve established your brand, but you’re not done yet. Now you need to help it grow. Put your brand out there for everyone to see. Incorporate it into your social media, SEO, ads and more. Specifically, focus on your website. Potential customers come to your website for a number of needs, so you want it to reflect your brand in the best way possible. Your new brand can also help you stand out at trade shows. The more public appearances your brand has, the more recognizable it will become. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of work it takes to grow the brand. It will be worth it when you start seeing the results of your carefully curated strategy.

Have patience while you wait for the results of establishing your brand. This is not an overnight process. So, take a look at your website and business analytics and continue to monitor them on a weekly or monthly basis. If your brand is a success, analytics will be able to show you how its helped your company flourish with growing numbers in connections and clients.

Going forward, continue to monitor your brand, conduct research into more growth opportunities and update as the market changes. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste by letting your brand fall behind. Better yet, invest in receiving help from a marketing company. Often, they know the best techniques and practices for your brand development. With them, you can be sure your brand has the best chance to excel in your industry.

buyer persona guide for business