Startup Marketing: The 4 Building Blocks of Brand Identity You Can’t Ignore Nick Bowersox | July 13th, 2016
First impressions are everything for a startup. When offering a new product or service it is important for a business to quickly demonstrate value to prospective customers and differentiate itself from the competition. In some situations the product or service itself can accomplish these goals, but often it is great brand identity that can make the difference between your first customer or a lost lead.
Though most startups know the importance of brand identity, it can often take the back seat to more pressing matters such as product development or finances. It’s hard to argue against this; without a finished product or the money to make it, what does the brand identity matter anyways?
Well, a lot. As graphic designer Scott Pokrant puts it:
“Research shows that the average user spends a length of about 10 seconds on a website before deciding if they are interested in sticking around or not. These initial 10 seconds are made entirely of visual first impressions, and will have an enormous impact on how the customer feels about your business and remembers your company in the future.”
To make sure the crucial first impression is a good one, we have broken down the foundation of brand identity into four building blocks so that you can quickly establish essential branding and get back to core business.
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Six Reasons Your Logo Might Need a Makeover Lauren Nelson | July 13th, 2016
We ask a lot of our logos. We expect them to be the visual representation of everything our brand stands for, to be the recognizable “face” of our companies, to be the picture worth a thousand words every day for so long as our business persists. So it’s really not all that surprising that logo design is one of the most difficult challenges a young brand will face. It’s also not surprising that more established brands are reticent to change that logo once it’s been embraced.
It can also be risky territory. Don’t believe us? Ask Gap about what happened when they tried to move away from that iconic navy blue box in 2010. And then you’ve got stories like the one about JCPenney changing its logo twice in two years… only to revert to its old one in the face of collapsing company performance.
Change is hard for most companies. Logo change? Hard to fathom. But despite the cautionary tales, there are times when a new logo makes a whole world of sense.
Want to Boost Your Search Performance? Invest in UX Design Lauren Nelson | July 12th, 2016
The world of SEO is an inherently volatile one. For a while it was about having all the keywords in all the places all the time. Then it was about links — any links at all, anywhere you could get ’em, in any context you could secure. Then it was about making sure those links were quality and the keywords weren’t stuffed. With every Google algorithm update, conventional wisdom on SEO has crumbled and risen anew from the ashes. And even when it takes on a new form, it’s still mostly guess work.
But does it have to be? Are companies chasing the wrong thing as they shell out cash for the latest and greatest SEO tacticians? Are they possibly missing the forest for the trees?
Why Your Company NEEDS to Start Playing Pokémon Go Lauren Nelson | July 12th, 2016
Everyone and their fifth grade cousin are playing Pokémon Go right now. Maybe it’s because it’s trendy. Maybe it’s because it’s a stupid amount of silly fun. Maybe it’s because it keeps them active. Maybe it’s because, like me, they were that kid who used to get caught playing Pokémon Blue on Gameboy Color in the back of their sixth grade math class.
But regardless of whether or not you’re trying to catch ’em all, Pokémon Go should be spurring some major conversations in offices across the country, particularly in terms of marketing. Because those conversations might be difficult to engage in if you’re not sure what the hell is going on, we’re here to answer your questions.
Promotional Products: the Most Durable Marketing Money Can Buy Lauren Nelson | July 11th, 2016
When we talk about marketing these days, it’s all about the digital. Is your social media game on point? Is your website on fleek? Is your mobile advertising on fire? On and on and on it goes, and with good reason. It’s estimated that 81% of all consumers look to the web before making a purchase, alongside 94% of B2B customers. Of course you have to have your digital strategy firing on all cylinders.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you should forgo all other forms of marketing. Even if 99.9% of your business is happening online, 100% of your customers live offline, and meeting them where they’re at can help keep your brand at the forefront of their minds when it’s time for them to click into a purchase.
But where should you direct your time and money? That’s the million dollar question, and the answers often vary depending on the size, scope, and trajectory of your company, not to mention the makeup of your audience. There is, however, one offline option that’s pretty much a good idea for companies of all sorts: swag.
We’re talking, of course, about promotional products. Think t-shirts, stress balls, water battles, pens, etc. with your logo on it. This is not a new form of marketing by any stretch of the imagination. Your grandfather was toting home swag from conferences to give to your parents as a gift when they were kids. But there’s a reason it’s endured as a marketing tactic in this digital world.
Monday Motivation: Gotta Catch ‘Em All Lauren Nelson | July 11th, 2016
Good morning, and welcome to the workweek! That’s right — it’s Monday and time to dive into the grind. Not feeling it just yet? Fuel up with (another) cup of coffee and your zero to awesome checklist:
- Starting things off behind? Check out these tips for getting up to speed on anything really, really quickly.
- And while you’re at it, here are three tricks for turning all that stress into productivity.
- Once you’re done there, hack into the minds of your audience by learning about the psychology of marketing.
- Stock up your workday playlist with these awesome podcasts about marketing.
- Learn from the (poke)masters: see what Pokemon Go can teach you about effective marketing.
- Get a giggle in with a Loca the Pug.
- And get to work!
Weekend Reads: Besting Giants Lauren Nelson | July 8th, 2016
It’s gettin’ close to quittin’ time, folks. It’s been a long week, and we hope you get a chance to unplug and recharge over the next couple of days. That’s our game plan, anyway. But because we know you’re going to miss our sparkling wit and low key brilliance, we couldn’t leave you without a solid reading list to cuddle with in our absence.
- Before you get started, check out these tips for retaining more of what you read. You’ll want to remember what comes next, right?
- In the David versus Goliath matchup of boutique brands and multinational conglomerates, The Economist seems to be betting boutique.
- Podcasting isn’t new, but it is newly cool, and, as Steve Pratt points out, the medium holds big opportunities for brands bold enough to seize them.
- The smartypants people over at Harvard Business Review have some solid advice for you about how to combat Imposter Syndrome.
- Check out this super interesting write up about what Facebook’s Safety Check says about social media’s role in our lives.
But all work and no play makes Jack a murderous psychopath or something, so here’s a few things to get you giggling, too.
- Like this keyboard player who may or may not be possessed.
- Or these “facts” that a trickster planted all over the Los Angeles Zoo.
- Or the competing craziness of this overprotective dad and his intense daughter’s face.
- Or these adorably hilarious babies.
See ya Monday!
Thoughts and Prayers: Social Media, Tragedy, and the Brand Lauren Nelson | July 8th, 2016
I distinctly remember the day my mother stopped watching the news.
“It’s all bad news,” she said. “It’s sad. I don’t need to be sad.”
Things haven’t changed much in that regard. Turn on any news program at any time of day, and odds are you’ll be inundated with headlines that hurt your heart. The age of the internet has amplified the depressing din ten fold. Tweets and retweets and trends and hashtags assault the senses on a rapid fire basis. Even my stubborn mother can’t hide from the news anymore.
This relentless news churn has made things difficult for businesses operating in a digital world, particularly on social media. We’re living in an era where brands are expected to operate like people — interacting in a relatable, human fashion. When the hashtag du jour is #tbt, it’s no big deal. But when the hashtag trending comes with a body count, things get tricky.
On one hand, most of those hashtags have very little to do with most brands’ unique selling proposition, so there’s not much of a link to be made. They also tend to be associated with topics that are highly politicized, which can make participating in the growing conversation a risky endeavor. On the other hand, those trending social discussions are often incredibly significant in the lives of those who brands are trying to reach, and tweeting about how Jack Daniels is your #mcm after a mass shooting just seems crass.
My mother isn’t the only one who can’t hide from the news anymore.
So what’s a brand to do? It’s a complex challenge for marketers, because there are no good, concrete answers to that question. Take a stand and you risk trouble. Join the conversation the wrong way and you risk trouble. Stay silent and you risk trouble. Landmines abound. But since standing still is not an option, here are some ways to navigate the shifting terrain.