The word brand displayed on a laptop screen

The Best 10-Step Brand Development Strategy for Your Professional Services Firm

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Did you know that consistent brand presentation across various platforms increases revenue by approximately 23%?

Unfortunately, many businesses do not realize that brand development is a lot more than a logo design.

Every piece of company collateral should maintain a similar tone, color scheme, and should communicate the same message.

Have we got your attention yet?

Continue reading or watch our video summary below to learn more!

What Is A Brand?

Your brand is intangible, yet the most crucial element of your business for communicating with your clients. It's the primary reference point for how your clients perceive your business.

Professionally, your brand is the reputation your firm puts out there. Your brand gives your firm visibility in the marketplace.

Reputation, multiplied by visibility, measures the strength of a brand.

What Is Brand Development?

Brand development refers to building and strengthening the professional image of your firm. By building your brand, you'll consequently develop your business.

Creating a brand is easy. The challenge lies in making a strong and successful brand.

Your business should always stand out from the rest of the competition. To do that, you must do more than build a brand.

What Is The Importance Of Brand Development?

You might be skeptical about the importance of brand building.

Why would you want to spend a significant amount of money on developing your brand?

The brand is an abstract concept, but these are the areas of your business it affects.

Referrals

hand holding chalkboard with person icons displayed

A position reputation usually has the effect of increasing the number of references to your site.

When people feel attracted to your business, they are likely to refer their contacts to you. When non-clients realize you have a good reputation, they’ll want to work with you.

The way you position your brand also attracts expertise-based referrals.

If you come across as an expert in the field, people will want to interact with you for your expertise. One way to grow your expertise-based referrals is to promote your brand through blogs posts or articles.

The more visible your business brand is to your target audience, the higher the chance of increased sales from referrals.

However, remember that getting referrals is only half the battle. Beyond attracting referrals, you need proactive strategies to convert them to sales.

Lead Generation And Business Development

A strong brand has a positive effect on lead generation.

As a smart marketer, you can’t separate brand development from lead generation content. One of your brand development goals is to convert a prospect’s interest to an actual need for your solutions.

To achieve this, create valuable and relevant content to make prospects willing to share their contacts details.

Once you have their details, you can’t afford to have them disappointed by what you offer. Depending on how you handle the prospects, your sales will increase.

A firm with a well-developed brand will have fewer obstacles in converting leads to sales.

Firm Valuation

If you've got a strong brand, you can easily command premium rates in the marketplace. Firm valuation determines how much a customer will pay for what you offer.

With strong brand development, clients can trust your brand.

They’ll have no reservations about paying a premium because of the value they place on your brand. When your firm has a high value, you'll experience faster growth and increased profitability.

It's clear you'd want to gain these advantages of brand development.

Here are well-thought-out steps you can follow to be successful in developing your brand:

1. Identify What Your Brand Represents

Why did you create your business and what problem did you want to solve by establishing it?

One approach to developing the purpose of your brand is to create a mission statement. The mission statement need not be on public display to have an impact.

Your mission statement should serve as the internal guiding light that inspires your employees. If they know what your company represents, they will progressively work towards delivering those values.

2. Consider Your Business Strategy

What are the strategies you’re using to make your business grow? What are the specific, long-term goals you can achieve through the evolution of a successful strategy?

Remember, your business strategy affects all areas of your business. It’s directly connected to the needs of consumers and competitive environments.

Your brand is the component that makes you a powerhouse. A well-developed and differentiated brand will make it easy for your business to grow.

However, if your overall business strategy is wrong, brand development might not adequately complement it.

3. Identify Your Target Clients

hand with pen drawing graphic lines

When developing your brand, the main aim is to draw the attention of your clients.

If you don't have a definition of whom your clients are, chances are you'll fail miserably. When you have clearly defined target clients, your approach to brand development will best suit them.

High growth and profit firms come with defined target clients.

The more you narrow down on your target market, the faster your growth will be. If your definition of your target market is too diverse, it will dilute your marketing efforts.

4. Be Unique In Your Presentation

You probably have the same competitors selling the same products or services as you.

How do you ensure that you stand out and customers prefer to buy from your firm? The secret is in how you brand yourself.

The secret to aggressive marketing is in how you position your brand. How are other competitors positioning themselves to the target market?

Take all that and identify the opportunity to get more creative.

You can make your brand stand out through your unique value proposition. This tells your customers what to expect in their interaction with your brand.

Your customers should be able to feel the quality of what you provide. The intellectual property of your products or services is the total of the ideas your brand brings to the market.

5. What Is Your Messaging Strategy?

The next most crucial step is the messaging strategy you adopt.

It should translate the positioning of your brand into information your clients can understand. Your target audience includes the potential employees, referral sources, and potential clients among other influencers.

Your core branding strategy must cut across all audiences.

However, each audience shows interest in different aspects of brand positioning. Each audience will want you to address specific concerns.

They will also require you to offer different evidence to support your messaging strategy.

Remember that your messaging plan should address these concerns. This is crucial in making your brand stand out to your audiences.

6. Develop Your Website, Tagline, And Logo

One element that modern consumers look for in a brand is the website. This goes hand in hand with the logo and tagline.

They are the ones that jumpstart your customer experience. You, therefore, need to be very intentional when creating them.

How you design your website gives visual cues about the essence of your brand.

Your tagline expresses the personality of your brand in words. The elements of your brand are potential points of contact between customers and your brand.

Strive to maintain a positive impression that is as engaging as possible.

7. Conduct Market Research

For you paint the correct picture about your brand to the market, get to know them. This is only possible through market research.

There are an assortment of tools you can use to help define your ideal client. These include surveys that allow you to uncover their thoughts and feelings about services and products.

You can also research the market through focus groups.

They give you the platform to interact one-on-one with your audience while observing body language. Social media is another outlet where people let their guards down and say things as they are, particularly in private groups.

Alternatively, you can use online forums to find out what people you think could be your clients are saying about your brand.

These aren't the only avenues you can use to conduct research. You need to be flexible enough to reach out to many markets.

8. What Do You Bring To The Table?

cartoon office workers sitting at a table

In carrying out all the above steps, be ready to tell your clients why they should care about your brand.

What are you doing differently that adds value to them? Your buyers should see what’s in it for them.

Write what motivates all of your buyer personas. This motivation should be at the core of every marketing message.

Find the most powerful motivators and focus on them for the success of your brand.

9. Build A Marketing Toolkit

One more step in brand development is to build a marketing toolkit.

This can be a one-page sales sheet that describes all your services or markets you serve. It can also be an overview of the key offerings of your firm.

Your marketing toolkit will be more profound if you can include a video. Popular video topics are case studies, firm overviews, or “meet our partners.”

10. Implement, Monitor, and Review

It won’t make sense for you to go through the above stages and not implement them.

Implementation is the most important thing you can do for your brand development strategy. Unfortunately, most businesses miss this step because other business processes overtake it.

After implementation, track to see how well the brand development strategy is working.

Analyze how each step is working towards growing and strengthening your brand. If any of the strategies are not working as they should, review and revise accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Brand development is more than just having your business name in the marketplace.

Remember that it's about having a strong reputation. However, it should be a positive association that will bring you sales and grow your brand.

Clients should want to associate with your brand.

To make them do this, develop your marketing language and value proposition. Let your clients know what you’re bringing to the table and what makes you different from the competition!


adults waiting for train using their phones

Move Your Brand: Importance of Mobile Marketing

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Imagine your customers having access to your product, services and brand information right in the palm of their hands anytime, anywhere.

If you use mobile marketing, they can do just that!

In digital marketing, the new sheriff in town is mobile marketing, and everyone who has a smartphone or tablet is the target audience.

meme about mobile marketing

Continue reading to learn how to update your advertising strategy to keep up with marketing on the go.

Facts About Online Consumers

Look at these statistics about online shoppers:

People have discovered the ease of click, point and buy from their mobile devices. Most businesses can take advantage of this trend to boost their sales and online visibility.

Consumers also use their phones while shopping at brick and mortar stores. They use the 'near me' search function when looking for goods and services in their local area.

They look up reviews and product information to make informed decisions, compare prices or to find coupons and online discounts.

What Does This Mean For You?

Consumers are ready to buy, and if they can easily find your product or service on their smartphone, they will purchase it NOW!

They're on their smartphones and tablets from morning until night. They wake up and check the news, weather, sports stats and text messages.

They scroll through their social media feeds during meals, on breaks, while waiting in line or relaxing at home.

Checking one's smartphone is also usually one of the last things a person will do before going to bed.

With the broad reach of the internet and an online business, you have a worldwide market at your fingertips. With the right mobile marketing strategy, your business can be front and center 24/7.

For customers today, online shopping makes sense because it is simple and practical.

It provides immediate access to information and products, quick responses to search inquiries and instant gratification with 'buy now' options.

Consumers have reviews available at the touch of a button and they can provide instant feedback of their own.

Even when shopping at a local store, they can still go online and do a comparison of prices, inventory and quality.

This all adds up to greater revenue for your business if you have an engaging, targeted and easy to understand mobile marketing strategy.

How To Make An Impact With Mobile Marketing

Visual learners can watch our video summary here, or continue reading:

You Need to be Remembered

With an increase in online retail traffic, customers become overwhelmed with all the businesses to sort through to find the one right for them. You want to stand out from your competition by creating unique company identifying features.

One of the first things you need is a logo. You should keep it simple with a minimalistic style that reflects your business theme and personality. Initials (acronyms or abbreviations) are trending and very popular now.

Try using clear and easy-to-read fonts. While it's tempting to get fancy and creative, keep in mind your logo will be seen in different formats, sizes and on various backgrounds. The letters or words should stand out.

Bright colors are the way to go. There are psychological factors behind color, so it's important to reflect the right emotion for your logo and your business.

Blue represents authority and intelligence. Red speaks of energy and action. Green shows growth and balance. Yellow points to happiness and confidence. Purple leans toward creativity and quality.

You should choose geometric shapes. Straight lines are stark and edgy, while curves are softer and more appealing.

There is a definite connection between marketing and design. Pulling it all together can be a challenge, but the payout for your business will be worth it.

Check Your Website

You need to have a mobile-friendly website. As stated above, with more people researching and shopping online, it is imperative when they click on your website it optimizes the information for a cellphone or tablet screen.

Google is also focusing on mobile-first indexing, which means it will use the mobile version of your website's pages for ranking.

In addition, make sure there is a seamless flow from product information to the shopping cart to check out. If your customer has to search around or continue to hit the back button to find what they need, they will give up and move on to another site.

Know Your Customers

You know what you want to sell, but do you know who wants to buy it? Who is your target customer? What is their medium age? What is their average income? What about hobbies and family dynamics?

All of this information is vital in helping you develop a mobile marketing plan.

Check out your competition.

Who is their audience?

You need to read the reviews on their sites.

What is being said positive and what improvements are people wanting?

You can then tailor your advertising to provide what others are missing.

Research what people are curious about.

What knowledge or product are they seeking? What is the angle they are looking for and how can you connect with that?

The more specific details you have on your potential customers, the more precise your ads will be.

Keep Their Secrets

It's impossible to do business online these days without giving up a little piece of ourselves. It's a risk we all take and the price we pay for the convenience of this online global market.

When your customer provides personal information, protect it! Security is a premium commodity and their brand loyalty depends on your ability to keep their information a secret.

Invest in high-quality security software and make sure someone updates it regularly. If there is a data breach, notify them right away and help to mitigate any leaks or damage.

You are developing a relationship, even if only online. Just because you do not see them face to face, it makes them no less valuable to your long-term success.

Be a company they can trust in and they will be loyal and spread the news.

Mobile Notifications

SMS/MMS

We live in a texting world. It is part of everyone’s daily life.

Why not benefit from it by using SMS/MMS (Text) marketing?

Text message marketing has a higher open rate than email marketing because they are shorter. It's almost guaranteed they will read the entire piece of content, and most of us like to keep our message inboxes clean.

It is an excellent way to engage with your customers and get them excited about your product or services. You can provide links back to your website, and with MMS messages, you can embed images or videos to further motivate them to research your brand.

You need to get permission to first send these messages, and once you send them, pay attention to the feedback. If someone reaches out with a question or concern, respond quickly.

You are making a personal connection, and it is important to keep the conversation going.

Push Notifications

If your business has an app, you can enable push notifications.

This is a message that appears on the screen of those users who have downloaded your app. The user does not have to be in the app or even on their device to receive it.

You can offer downloadable coupons, sales information or live event invitations. These notifications go directly to your targeted customers and also work better than emails. You can send a mass message notification or personalize one for specific users.

The content should be engaging and to the point. Users can turn off these notifications, so always keep them interested and eager for more information.

The Impact Of Social Media

Like and share. Share and like.

These are two powerful words in social media mobile marketing.

Your goal should be to create informative and engaging posts. The greater the impact, the more likely users will be to like and share your content.

Condense your message. People are constantly on the move and do not have the time or desire to read long posts. Get to the point. Use graphics or authentic visuals, and easy-to-read copy.

Build an organic following slowly based on quality and good reviews. Every business wants to have a million followers, but if only 10% read your posts or they don't engage, the numbers have no value.

Social media success is difficult to get quickly. Be in it for the long term.

Your mobile marketing strategy is to have a consistent presence. Trending viral posts are great, but aim for being a reliable source of information and quality products.

The Video Component

One of the best ways to maximize your mobile marketing budget is to use videos on social media. There is a personal connection made when someone clicks on your video link and you are talking directly to your customer.

People love funny videos. They also enjoy emotional and touching videos. When possible, try to incorporate these elements within your product information.

Video can help showcase your product. You can provide a 3D view explaining features and benefits.

Tutorials are popular, and you can tie in testimonials from satisfied customers. People love to be on camera and an outside recommendation will go a long way!

One of the best forms of video marketing is a live feed. You should try posting from an event or do a random video highlighting a special sale or new shipment.

Unscripted and honest talk creates a relationship with the audience. The audience can then become your customer.

It is easier than you think to use video in mobile marketing. Most smartphones will work just fine, but you still need to check the sound quality and lighting.

It is also a good idea to include subtitles on your videos. People often access them in places where they cannot use the sound.

Write and even rehearse what you want to say, even if you are preparing to do a live video. Invest in a good editing app so you can add text and other visual components to your videos.

Where To Post Your Videos

Facebook videos can go up to 45 minutes, while Twitter only allows two minutes and twenty seconds.

Instagram allows for minute long videos, but IGTV allows up to 60 minutes. You can even link to your IGTV videos in Instagram posts and stories.

YouTube allows videos under fifteen minutes, but if you verify your account you can add videos of up to twelve hours.

LinkedIn is also on the video bandwagon and depending on your industry could be a great way to get your brand out there.

It is always a good idea to follow up with an analysis on which videos performed best and which ones fell short. You can make adjustments and try again next time.

A strong video component is a vital addition to your advertising plan.

The Bottom Line

As a business owner, one of your main objections is to get the word out on all of your product and services. Advertising comes in many forms and has transformed over the years.

Mobile marketing is the wave of the future. It puts your business and brand in the hands of potential customers all around the world.


Boost Your Brand: 6 Creative Branding Strategies for Businesses

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Does your company have what it takes to pull off a creative branding strategy?

We know that you do! That's why we're here to give you a few insider tips on how to re-brand for innovation.

Every company grows with time, and you need to keep up with those changes.

That's when re-branding can come in and save the day. Revamp your look with a new logo, icon, or catchphrase.

Set yourself apart from challenging competition and consider your unique services!

We will show you how to best showcase your business and develop a creative brand that'll suit you.

Read on to uncover our top six creative branding strategies for businesses!

Why Do Companies Use Branding Strategies?

Before we can get into the creative brand strategies, we have to first understand what a brand is.

For example, the golden arches at McDonald's are part of their brand. Let's break this example apart.

outside of mcdonalds restaurant

You've got the word: McDonald's.

Then, you have the iconic image of golden arches that are bright and easy to see from miles away.

All in all, you can say it's a great way to serve the public at their convenience, right?

This is why companies use branding — to send a message. It's a way to serve their customers at their convenience.

What's the Difference between Branding and Creative Branding?

Now, let's take it a step further.

We know branding is a way to become a part of a customers daily routine, so what is creative branding?

Creative branding is using everyday elements to target your audience.

For example, McDonald's golden arches are high off the ground and bright to attract drivers from the highway.

Creative branding is connecting the dots between your product or service and customer demands.

Convenience and simplicity are two key elements to think about.

In fact, studies show that customers are willing to spend more on companies that are simple!

Creating Your Own Creative Brand Logo

Getting stuck on ideas for creative branding?

Start with your logo. There are several styles and themes to choose from.

Here's how you can flesh out some ideas the right way.

Think about your company and how you serve your customers.

Then, ask yourself if you can commercialize your unique service.

For most booming companies, you'll find that the answer to that question is yes!

What sets you apart could be anything from customer service to products.

Watch our 6 tips in the video below or keep reading:

1. Picking Words to Use in Your Logo

The goal is to pinpoint what you want to represent your company.

Let's stick with digital marketing as our example.

You have services such as:

  • Google Ads
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Website Development
  • Graphic Design

From here, pick out a few simple keywords to represent your brand such as web, design or SEO.

These three words or phrases are easy to remember and will work great for a simple logo design.

2. Take the Minimalist Route

Minimalism can be a total game-changer you weren't expecting.

Look at Google's method. They have the easiest and simplest search engine page in the world!

person-searching-on-google-on-laptop

That's because they want average people to use their search engine. They cater to the public and do so by knowing their needs or desires.

People don't want to read complex paragraphs or listen to 10-minute videos. Just give them a minimal brand item to remember you by.

Let's revisit our earlier example of digital marketing — Web, Design, SEO — and consider something simple like brand coloring.

The best way to step up your game now is to experiment with icon creation.

3. Create a Brand Icon

Icons are quick and easy glimpses of your company, brand, and name.

Sit back and think of five brand icons off the top of your head.

Bet it wasn't hard, right?

That's because marketing companies work day and night to perfect a memorable icon.

Here are some elements you can use:

4. Consider Psychology Tactics

Psychology can be your best friend in marketing.

Knowing what attracts the natural eye can drive benefits and traffic to your company.

Think about things like:

  • Color
  • Symmetry
  • Words or letters
  • Shapes [lines are a serious reaction, while curves are gentle]

Here's a quick example of good use of psychology tactics:

You're a leading technology company with cutting-edge equipment.

Your brand would benefit the most from the color blue, which invokes feelings of trust and security, and a circle would suggest connectivity on a global scale.

abrstract background with blue circles

That's it, you have yourself a quick and easy-to-follow template for a creative brand icon.

5. Style and Themes

This is the best part of creative branding! You get to pick out your "art" theme.

There is an endless array to choose from, and the options offer different messages.

Some examples include:

  • Old-school, bringing a vintage theme with a modern twist
  • Three-dimensional designs
  • Moving logos
  • Floral patterns

The design should make sense for what you're selling.

Bath and body products would match great with flower patterns. Mustache maintenance tools would do great with a vintage-theme brand.

6. Boost Your Brand Online

Get your logo, icon, and brand online.

Create videos for your website, or keep up with a blog.

That way, you can rank on search engines when people are looking for you.

Make your brand accessible, convenient and easy to remember.

Take Your Business to the Next Level

Creative branding is not for the faint of heart. It can take several weeks to feel confident in the right design.

Don't fret, though, if you're unsure of how to take the next steps to success.

We're here to help you achieve your business goals.

That's why we offer consulting services. We can look at your case and find the perfect solution to suit your needs.

We're confident our experts can help take your business to the next level. Contact us today for your free consultation!


Simplest ways to reduce your creative and graphic design costs

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Every successful brand has its own unique style. Your style impacts how consumers view your brand and how they interact with it.

Most established businesses have a logo and standard colors they use, but to be consistent it’s important to have a thorough brand style guide.

You may think developing a thorough style guide sounds both expensive and time-consuming, but that doesn’t need to be the case. There are methods of a style guide creation that won’t break the bank.

The key is putting in the work now to develop standards that will serve your business for at least a few years with no major changes. It’s important to have your goals and expectations defined so you have a starting point for graphics and other creative elements.

In this article, we will look into style guides in more depth, discuss why they’re important and how you can create your own.

What Are Style Guides?

A style guide is an essential brand asset that outlines the standard design and communication elements for a business to adhere to. They include logo variations, colors, and fonts along with other relevant design elements and materials.

You want your brand to be easily recognizable. A brand’s style needs to be consistent and easily identifiable to avoid confusing your current and potential customers. Your style guide should be unique to your business and what you are trying to accomplish.

Style guides are utilized from all types of businesses, from e-commerce products to medical practices to government-run organizations. Everyone has a need for consistent branding and messaging.

The Importance of Style Guides

Establishing the basic standards of style guide creation and enforcing them consistently across a company is helpful when you are creating new graphic designs and other creative work. It ensures that the creatives don’t stray too far away from your original design strategy, but also gives them an idea of how much freedom they have.

If you’re hiring outside talent to run a campaign, it’s important to have a thorough style guide structure in place that you can share with them prior to beginning. This gives this external team the guidelines they need to effectively come up with new designs for your business.

Keeping your creatives on track will make their lives easier in delivering you a product you desire. It will also help you with getting them additional assets that they still need.

You don’t want to rush your style guide if it’s not ready. Make sure all of your stakeholders are on the same page and everyone is in agreeance on what is being defined. Your entire team needs to be on board with your style guide creation and the plan you put into place.

Too Much Freedom is a Problem

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When you give your design team too much freedom, it can actually hurt you.

These members may not have been part of your organization from the beginning, and perhaps there were some ideas or designs you tried in the past, but were not effective or were received negatively by customers. In a style guide, it’s important to note common do’s and don’ts to take out the guesswork for all parties.

If you don’t have your brand style assets fully in place prior to a project, it’s unreasonable to expect your team to be mindful of that standard if it’s not clearly defined. You don’t want your team wasting time on rework due to not being aware of your business's brand style guidelines and principles.   

How to Create a Good Brand Style Guide

A style guide that suits your brand and what you aim to achieve helps clarify expectations for all involved parties.

By now you should know how important style guide creation is. Now let’s take a look at the steps you can take to put one together for your brand.

Watch the video below for a quick summary:

1. Provide a Written Overview

First things first, create a written overview that outlines what your expectations are and the basic aspects of your style. This written overview doesn’t need to be overly long and detailed, but it’s important that you offer written guidance to accompany other aspects of the style guide.

Ensure that your style guide covers the most important details in a written format to provide clarity so that future creatives are clear and decisive.

2. Include Everything from Fonts to Color Palettes

Once you’ve completed the written the overview of your style guide creation strategy, you can start digging into the visual style elements that matter most.

This section should include everything from the fonts, colors, and any thematic design considerations that are important to your brand’s style. Be precise about which color palettes you want to stick to, along with which colors you don’t want to introduce to your style in any capacity.

It’s important to draw clear lines about what can and can’t be done when producing creative work.

3. Consider Tone

Do you have an idea of what kind of tone you want to achieve and why? Don’t forget about your brand tone when developing your brand style guide. How your brand communicates and speaks with others, impacts how customers view your business, even in a digital sense.

Businesses that do work in financial, legal and medical sectors should take on a more serious tone, while e-commerce products and media organizations might adopt a more lighthearted tone. It all depends on your business and what your goals are.

4. Be Specific

Be specific when preparing your style guide. Don’t be vague, or leave items open for interpretation. Everything included should be very "black and white" to avoid confusion and miscommunication.

For example, if you have certain colors you use, rather than just saying you want red and blue, include the specific color codes for your exact colors. This way, anyone who picks up on the marketing can easily find the exact colors needed to keep the brand consistent. Go into more or less detail as your brand permits.

5. But Also Leave Some Room to Maneuver

While being specific is important, you also need to leave a little wiggle room for maneuverability to ensure your graphic designers don’t feel too constrained. Focus on items that matter most, but aren’t so restrictive that your team is unable to be creative and think freely.

Try to find the right balance between both ends of the spectrum and structure them in a way that makes sense for everyone involved.

6. Have Fun With It

There’s no reason to not have fun with your style guide. It should ultimately be a celebration of your brand’s identity, and if it’s engaging to read through, your team will be more likely to pay close attention and use it more effectively.

via GIPHY

Always keep your business sector in mind as we discussed above, but if appropriate, add a little flair to your style guide.

7. Ensure Visual Examples Are Included

Don’t forget to include visual examples of your style so that your team and stakeholders know exactly to expect. Many professionals in today’s day and age are visual learners, so having that added visual component can further solidify your brand image in the eyes of who will be working on it.

Graphic examples should easy for you to obtain or quickly mock up. They’ll also help break up all the of the heavy text in your brand style guide and clarify any hard to comprehend sections.

How You’ll Save Time and Money

Rather than viewing it as a chore, your style guide should be viewed as an investment of both your current and future time and money.

By putting work into creating a thorough brand style guide now, you can make sure that your business reduces costs later on.

In the long-term, you’ll save money but cutting down the amount of time on rework your creative team will be responsible for since they’ll have a clear idea of brand expectations. That time and money saved can be reallocated to other aspects of your business.

It will require putting in the time and resources now to get the dirty work out of the way, but down the road, you’ll be glad you did. Don’t overlook how important style guide creation can be.

Conclusion

As we’ve discussed, a brand style guide is essential for the successful cohesion of your creative marketing strategies and campaigns. If done correctly, they will keep all involved parties on the same page, and ultimately save your organization valuable time and money.

Start thinking about what assets you already have at your disposal, and what can be done to improve upon them to create a clear guide for your brand. If you need help, a Glenmont consultant would be happy to guide you through the process.


Is your website forcing too much content on your users?

Meatballs!

Figuratively speaking.

Before you get too excited, these meatballs are metaphorical. Imagine for a moment, you and your plus one spot a quaint little restaurant as you stroll down the block. Curious, you pause to learn more about it. “Meatballs”, someone shouts at you! “Caesar salad, vegetable soup, branzino!” You haven’t even gotten through the door and looked around before the host is shouting menu items at you. What’s the likely response you’d give? You might be confused, mildly amused or suspicious. If you were really hungry you might ask for details, such as a table for two or if the meatballs come on a plate. Probably, you weren’t going to reach for your wallet and hold out your hand for a meatball.

This scenario is exactly what we’re seeing on a lot of websites. We arrive on the page and wonder what it is the company actually does. As we look for some simple and direct explanation of their primary purpose, we see lists of problems to solve, icons of services provided and menus filled with industry-specific needs. Strange as this may sound to website owners (and developers), these services don’t necessarily tell visitors what the company is about.

We’ve all heard the term User Experience or seen the shorthand (UX). I think there’s even a college degree in UX now. However, what does this really mean? For most, this is customer service. In essence, it is a little more than that. Much more, if you consider customer service as merely fixing problems, answering questions and taking sales orders. Experience with a capital X is the key element here. Walking away from that little restaurant, purchase or no purchase, what would you remember about the brand? The little Italian-style plaque beside the door or the smell of freshly baked bread? The checkered tablecloth or the waiter’s flour-stained apron, maybe? I’d wager you’d remember the screaming host yelling in your face about meatballs and how surprised and awkward you felt. Given enough time, you may forget about the actual behavior, and simply associate the restaurant with that awkward feeling. This is probably not the most conducive to being re-engaged, even if you find yourself nearby and hungry once more.

Keeping up with consistency.

Perception is another thing entirely, and shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to cohesion. For this, you should strive to understand and embrace your customer’s perception of your brand. If you sell swimwear, for example, your brand perception is likely to include warm weather, beaches, sun tans and sexiness. A dark blue background split by a white-hot lightning bolt over the words, electric swimwear, might be executed with beautiful artwork – but its design is noticeably lacking. Your product, packaging, brand and overall message should be consistent with brand perception as well.

If your brand is spread out over many products, concepts or services, it might be hard to establish a cohesive message. Consider creating individual brands or collections that each carry a cohesive messaging related to their product, appearance and perception. Creating a style guide is a great way to help organize your branding and brand assets and provides a good visual representation of your umbrella brand. A style guide also formalizes how those assets can be used to provide consistency. With or without a style guide, before designing a large offering, consider how each segment might or might not fit into any existing brands or if any new brands are needed. Of course, you can always outsource such an assignment ;-)The user’s experience is important for a few reasons, not just to get them to make a purchase or call your salesman. This interaction with your brand might mean a lasting impression and the difference between someone who’ll tell others about you and someone who might avoid your business in the future. A memorable and positive experience can yield repeat business, larger orders, brand ambassadors and quicker sales. Visitors to your site might be checking out your brand before they stop by in person or after they met your salesman. Maybe they’re comparing you to a competitor. Even if these visitors aren’t looking to make a purchase right now, their experience will directly affect your success.

Take a look at your own website, or as you think about having one built for you, consider what a potential customer might think of it. It might go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You, your employees, your friends or your family may not be your target audience. Even if they are, they may not represent your average audience member. Consider what a potential customer might think when they first arrive on your website. Perhaps they aren’t experts in the industry (maybe they should be, or they only work for someone who is). The first thing a visitor expects to see is some indication of what the website owner does. Not lists of services you provide, they want to know how you can help them, even if they don’t understand how you do what you do. A bold elevator pitch, mission statement or straightforward claim is the website version of a welcoming handshake and introduction. If your industry is technical, but your clients aren’t necessarily experts, this concept is even more important. Perhaps your target client is a business that might purchase your technical service. Are you designing the experience for the decision maker who might agree to hire your company or the technician who will be working with your product or service? Remember to include them both in your design, at the appropriate page. Industry experts might skip over your homepage looking for those service lists, while other types of customers might want to read the very first words on your website to get a sense of who you are. All the clever service names, reassuring icons and industry jargon can wait till later. First, tell them they are in the right place. Tell them you have a nice table for two by the window and when they settle in and have a moment to look around, you can offer to read them the specials and tell them about your meatballs.


Don't Let Your Business Fall Into The Wrong Hands

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Don’t Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

You've Been Hurt Before

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Recently, we met with a client whose branding and website we are now developing. As part of our assessment process we reviewed the history of her business, how it had evolved and where it had become stagnant. We discovered that she had worked with other companies before. Apparently, she left her business in the hands of a developer who did not understand her needs. When we uncover this sort of thing there is usually some reasoning that made some sort of sense at the time. Maybe it was someone’s relative, or a friend owed her a favor. Maybe the concept of an internet presence was so out of her comfort zone that she was easily swayed into believing that only a web expert could help her. Whatever the reason, our client ended up using a developer who wasn’t aware of what she wanted to accomplish.

Putting your business in its entirety into the hands of a web developer would be akin to leaving your business under the control of the builder who constructed your office space. Our client needed a web professional, but she also needed her brand and her product to have the right story, the right treatment that would introduce it to the world. If you aren’t going to work closely with your developer, to create the ideal space for your business to function in, then someone you trust should do it. If your developer isn’t interested in any sort of tailor-made environment for your business, you should take a long hard look at your budget and your goals and then find another developer.

When marketing and design come together, wonderful things can happen.

Your Business Is Unique

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Over the course of the past four years she had worked with multiple providers to create and evolve her branding and she was very disappointed with her end results. She was so dissatisfied with what she had, that she was actually embarrassed to promote her business and crippled to move forward.
Working with generalist providers made it difficult for her to make progress. There was no tangible process and no measures taken to help her reveal the goals she wanted to reach. Without a deep understanding of her product and business, no objectives were ever determined, and consequently none were to be realized. She went through the process of outsourcing many trivial creative projects. She ended up with lesser components and no comprehensive way to sew it all together. With unsatisfactory deliverables and no roadmap in hand she found her way to us, and prepared herself to start all over again.

We’ve witnessed this pattern repeat itself time and again over the years: generalist firms selling template solutions for complex problems. It had become apparent to us some time ago that this could have the potential to become a very real problem for a great many people. We’ve witnessed these providers repeatedly treat symptoms with no attempt to diagnose the deeply rooted issues festering below the surface. Without having a deep knowledge of the intimate space it would be impossible to know the best way to solve industry specific problems.

With only providers that lack the unique expertise, specific to your industry, there is definitely something missing from the equation. From what we’ve seen, the likelihood of successful outcomes has been predictably low in cases where the client uses only a generalist firm. Unfortunately, that is the space the majority of our clients are in when we meet them. They have been failed by other companies that are unable to see the big picture. They are not used to working with a company that cares about their brand or a provider that understands their industry. Companies should get involved and become informed about the product or service that they intend to represent. Firms should understand the consumer they plan to sell to, and value the ideals of their clients.

Many companies are only capable of building a website or designing a logo and they do not address what ties it all together. That is what they know and that is what they sell. We work differently. We go far beyond mar-comm and creative services. We dive deeply into every aspect of the business to discover your unique obstacles and offer clarity and guidance toward the ideal results you want to achieve. You know what you want for your business. Select a partner who understands your needs and can help you realize your goals.