Katie Lundin | July 26th, 2017

“I could do that,” you think to yourself.

So, why haven’t you?

There’s a good chance that poor self-discipline is the culprit. The late business philosopher and guru Jim Rohn once said,

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

Do you want to start your own business? Or build your current business? Maybe you just want to be more productive in the workplace. To accomplish any of these things you’re going to need self-discipline.

Merriam-Webster defines self-discipline as:

 the ability to make yourself do things that should be done

It sounds so simple. But, as we all know, living with self-discipline is not as easy as it sounds. And yet, it’s vitally important to your success. Author, business coach and consultant, Dan S. Kennedy asserts,

In the entrepreneurial environment, there’s a lot to be said just for showing up on time, ready to work. The meeting of deadlines and commitments alone causes a person to stand out from the crowd like an alien space ship parked in an Iowa cornfield. The ability to get things done and done right the first time will magnetically attract incredible contacts, opportunities and resources to you. All of this is a matter of self-discipline.

Self-discipline has the power to transform your life for the better. Imagine how much you would accomplish if you completed every task you set out to do; or if you established healthy, productive habits and actually followed through. Self-discipline very well may be the key to unlocking your untapped potential.

If you’re tired of “what ifs” and ready to do what it takes to reach your goals, check out these 9 tips for strengthening your self-discipline.

1. Change Your Perception of Willpower

2. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

3. Leverage Goals to Counter Temptations

4. Take it One Step at a Time

5. Prioritize

6. Show Yourself Compassion

7. Lean into Discomfort

8. Stay Focused

9. Cultivate Your Internal Resources with Self-Care

 

1. Change Your Perception of Willpower

Our very first, possibly most important, tip for increasing your self-discipline is to not give up before you even begin. So many people claim that they have no willpower. And in so doing, they absolve themselves of the responsibility of behaving as though they have willpower, so they no longer even try.

In psychology circles, this is what’s known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Good Therapy, a therapy advocacy group, explains:

A self-fulfilling prophecy can be directed at oneself, another person, a group, or even inanimate objects. Our thoughts can dramatically alter our behavior. Our behavior, in turn, can affect the likelihood of getting things we want, the frequency with which we engage in self-destructive activities, and our ability to make good decisions.

The fact is that willpower is not something that you either have or don’t have. It may come more naturally to some, but it is a behavior that can be practiced and learned – if you’re so inclined.

The results of this study by Stanford University “highlight the critical role of beliefs about willpower in self-control performance.” The study reports:

Although people induced to hold a limited resource theory and a nonlimited theory of willpower found an initial demanding task equally fatiguing, only for those with the limited resource theory did the extent to which they found the task fatiguing predict worse performance on the next self-control task.

In other words, the participants who thought they had limited willpower performed more poorly on tasks of self-control than those who believed that willpower was an endless resource after performing the same initial activity. This research supports the idea that our perception of our willpower shapes our execution of tasks requiring willpower.

Those who believed that they had willpower, had more self-control. So, stop making the excuse that you have no willpower. You do. If you believe you do.

 

2. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

Image courtesy of Security Awareness App

At some point, behaving with self-discipline inevitably means resisting the temptation to do something more fun than that responsible task on your to-do list. So, if you know that you’ll need to occasionally resist temptation, it’s a good idea to know where temptation lies.

What are your weaknesses? What activities, foods and material things tempt you into behaving in ways that are counter to your productivity, efficiency or well-being? Identifying the things that regularly derail your good intentions is the first step to defeating them.

As Peter Bregman of the Harvard Business Review points out:

Changing a habit doesn’t have to take long, but it’s hard. Really hard. But when it comes to counterproductive habits… turning our knee-jerk reactions into something healthier and more productive is essential. The first step is to be aware of your reactions. You can’t change something if you don’t realize you’re doing it.

Knowing your weaknesses so you can effectively navigate them requires self-awareness – the first of the four pillars of emotional intelligence. As we discussed in our previous article “How Emotional Intelligence Can Make You a Better Leader,”

Self-awareness also gives you a better perspective to identify the traits that serve you well and the traits that don’t serve you at all. You can modify your behavior for the better if you can identify your own bad habits and catch yourself when you’re doing them.

Before you can delete that bookmark for cutekittenpicsonline.com, or plan a new route home that takes you past the gym instead of the Starbucks, you need to acknowledge that kittens and Starbucks are your weak spots. But, once they’re on your radar, you’re in control. You can prioritize more disciplined, responsible choices.

 

3. Leverage Goals to Counter Temptations

It’s all well and good to scope out the potholes in the road ahead; but, if you don’t want to hit them, you should probably swerve.  Set SMART goals to help you outsmart the bad habits that usually undermine you.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Setting goals that meet these criteria will set you up for success and are more likely to deliver real results. Here’s how it might look in practice… You know that you tend to get bogged down answering emails from co-workers who always come to you for answers they could find themselves. You lose track of time and your own to-do list suffers.

In this scenario, your SMART goal for busting the email habit might look like this:

I will complete one task on my to-do list before I spend 20 minutes responding to emails. Repeat as necessary.

This goal is specific (1 to-do item/ 20 min of emails), easy to measure (if you can count to 20, that is), attainable (adjust the terms as needed to make your goals work for you), relevant (specifically addresses your challenge – reprioritizing your tasks over co-worker email), and timely (this goal can be repeated multiple times a day, reinforcing a success feedback loop).

Strategically couple SMART goals with your biggest willpower busters and you’ll see your productivity soar.

 

4. Take it One Step at a Time

It’s easy to become overwhelmed if a goal is too large; so overwhelmed, in fact, that you give up. So, for larger goals, break them down into smaller, more easily manageable pieces.

Deep Patel, author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success, shares:

Acquiring self-discipline and working to instill a new habit can feel daunting at first, especially if you focus on the entire task at hand. To avoid feeling intimidated, keep it simple. Break your goal into small, doable steps. Instead of trying to change everything at once, focus on doing one thing consistently and master self-discipline with that goal in mind.

It’s easy to get discouraged when trying to establish a new practice of self-discipline. After all, you’re probably giving up some things that you really enjoy in exchange for your new productivity superpower. So, set yourself up for success by tackling larger goals with an action plan.

Action plans are structured lists or spreadsheets that outline exactly what needs to be done, by whom, and when. Use these free action plan templates from Smart Sheet to break your goals into smaller, actionable steps. Then obliterate that goal – one small step at a time.

 

5. Prioritize

Self-discipline is about self-control. It’s also about making good decisions.

Self-discipline is choosing to tackle that project that you’ve been dreading instead of drinking three more cups of coffee while stalking your new crush on Facebook.

So how do we make our choices wisely? We prioritize.

Time Management Guide explains:

Prioritizing is about making choices of what to do and what not to do. To prioritize effectively you need to be able to recognize what is important…

The important, or high priority, tasks are the tasks that help us achieve our long-term goals or can have other meaningful and significant long-term consequences.

But, what is the most efficient strategy for prioritizing your tasks? Obviously, projects with deadlines move up the priority chain as the deadline moves closer. And, tasks that need to be completed so that other teammates can do their part should be rated fairly highly as well. But, what about everything else?

Psychologist and Entrepreneur contributor Sherrie Campbell recommends:

As you plan your day discipline yourself to accomplish the tasks which require the most effort and discipline from you. Get your big stressors out of the way. When you accomplish your more stressful tasks first, not only will you begin to do this with more consistency, but you will be less stressed throughout the rest of your day, allowing you to be more productive on your other, less important activities. In this way, you learn to turn a mess to greatness.

This “save the best for last” mentality can be a great motivator. Knocking out the biggest, ugliest tasks first makes the rest of your day more enjoyable. So, not only will you be more productive, you’ll also reward yourself with a more relaxing afternoon.

 

6. Show Yourself Compassion

During your journey to increased self-discipline, there are bound to be some setbacks. You are, after all, only human. Setbacks are inevitable, but they’re not an indicator of failure. Your reactions to setbacks (and successes) are far more important than the setbacks and successes themselves.

Don’t let your first setback (or second or third or fourth) derail your efforts. Reacting harshly and with judgment – or giving up altogether – will not serve you well. Mindfulness coach and Harvard Business Review contributor Christopher Germer advises that self-compassion may be needed to recover from a failure.

What does it take to rescue yourself and begin to address the situation effectively? You need to treat yourself with the same kindness and support that you’d provide for a friend.

There is a substantial and growing body of research that shows that self-compassion is closely associated with emotional resilience, including the ability to soothe ourselves, recognize our mistakes, learn from them, and motivate ourselves to succeed.

Instead of spiraling into a self-defeating, negative frame of mind, accept slip-ups as the inevitable part of the process that they are. Then forgive yourself and move on… grateful for the lesson you’ve learned.

And, don’t forget about your successes, either. Establishing a new habit of self-discipline takes effort.  A great way to stay motivated is to embrace your victories. As we pointed out in our article about preventing burn-out,

 Focusing on your successes reminds you that your work really does make an impact, leading you to embrace the meaning behind your efforts.

You’re trying to gain self-discipline in the hopes that you’ll achieve more of these victories. So, don’t forget to reward yourself for actually accomplishing what you set out to do! Rewards provide meaning and make the effort worth it. Psychologists at the University of Tasmania share:

When we get a reward, special pathways in our brain become activated. Not only does this feel good, but the activation also leads us to seek out more rewarding stimuli.

Physiologically, rewards motivate you to repeat the behaviors that lead you to receive that reward. This is a great tool to exploit when trying to develop a new habit – like, say, acting with self-discipline.

 

7. Lean into Discomfort

Creating new habits means breaking old ones. This will inevitably feel weird, strange, uncomfortable…

And that’s okay.

Feeling weird is part of the process of growth. If it feels uncomfortable, you’re stretching yourself enough to create meaningful change. Forbes article “5 Proven Methods for Gaining Self Discipline” reports:

Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, explains that habit behaviors are traced to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia – a portion of the brain associated with emotions, patterns, and memories. Decisions, on the other hand, are made in the prefrontal cortex, a completely different area. When a behavior becomes habit, we stop using our decision-making skills and instead function on auto-pilot. Therefore, breaking a bad habit and building a new habit not only requires us to make active decisions, it will feel wrong. Your brain will resist the change in favor of what it has been programmed to do. The solution? Embrace the wrong. Acknowledge that it will take a while for your new regime to feel right or good or natural.

Mentally prepare yourself for the weirdness and the discomfort.  And remind yourself that it’s okay. You’ve got this.

 

8. Stay Focused

True self-discipline isn’t a goal to check off your to-do list and then move on with your life. It’s a life-long practice. This means that you’ll need to stay focused to maintain the habit.

Keeping your eye on the prize – which will evolve over time – strengthens your motivation and resolve. Sherrie Campbell, in her article “8 Ways to Create the Discipline Habit,” recommends:

Review your goals each morning before you start your day, or set and review your goals for the next day before you go to sleep….visualize on what you want to achieve in the short and long term. This will help you to set the most important goals on your list for the next day. As you visualize, see yourself achieving your goals and imagine the feelings of success which will come along with this. In this way you start your day in a productive and positive mindset.

Conducting a daily mental review of your goals is a great practice to follow. And, if you want to take it one step further, create a vision board. Vision boards are collages of images and text that remind you of your goals.

Vision boards are collages of images and text that remind you of your goals.

If you (like many of us) learn by doing, the act of creating a vision board will help to cement your goals in your brain. And, if you’re a visual learner, seeing images that resonate with and inspire you will help you maintain focus over the long haul.  As your goals evolve, create new vision boards to reflect your new reality.

Whatever method you choose to maintain focus, make sure to take regular stock over time to assess where you are and where you’re headed.

 

9. Cultivate Your Internal Resources with Self-Care

Humans require food and water to function. But, they require much more than that to thrive. If you want to step up your self-discipline game, plan to give yourself the resources you need to succeed.

Self-care is the practice of checking in with yourself to determine which of your resources are depleted and then acting to replenish them. Are you tired? You’ll need some rest. Are you hungry? Time for a healthy snack.

And, don’t let anyone tell you that self-care is selfish. As this LifeHacker article is so aptly titled:

Self-care is not a reward. It’s a part of the process.

It’s essential to meet your most basic biological needs if you want to have the resources to be more self-disciplined. Self-care includes, and extends beyond, those basic needs.  Remember to refresh your mental and emotional resources as well.

Spend some time with friends or loved ones. Spend some time alone. Cultivate a meditation practice. Hit the gym. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for self-care. Your self-care practice should be tailored to meet your self-care needs.

A car will not go, let alone perform at its best, without fuel. And neither will you. Practicing self-care is a necessity to achieving self-discipline. The alternative – well, it’s not pretty.

As we shared in our article “Wellness Tips from Successful Entrepreneurs and Health Experts,”

…entrepreneurs are people. You are a person. And you deserve to take care of yourself, even in the midst of working or running a business. Not only that, if you’re not feeling your best your work will suffer. And as an entrepreneur, if your work suffers, so does your business.

A self-disciplined you is a more successful you. Possibly even a happier you. Research has shown that people with highly developed self-discipline avoid situations that cause them distress or temptation, essentially setting themselves up for success. This leads to less conflict and fewer negative emotions.

Productivity, happiness, success… Self-discipline offers so many benefits. You just have to do it.

For more about creating and leading a successful business, check out our latest ebook written by CEO and founder Ross Kimbarovsky entitled Stand Out: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting, Growing, and Managing a Successful Business.

 

 

The Business Owner’s Guide to Creating a Unique Logo Arielle Kimbarovsky | July 25th, 2017

Everyone wants a great logo design that is memorable, recognizable, and reflective of their brand. But often, people forget that their logo has to be unique too.

Sure, the Apple logo is iconic and instantly recognizable. But when companies want a logo that looks just like the Apple logo, they misunderstand the goal of effective branding.

Even though Apple’s logo is well designed and praised by designers everywhere, copying that logo would not only expose the business to a lawsuit, but also would fail to differentiate in the marketplace.

That’s one reason why you should never buy a premade template logo design at one of these so-called “logo stores”.

Instead of copying or mimicking famous logos, the best designers look to create a unique brand. The breakthrough designs they create often come from the deeper meanings they find within the company, which is the reason why so many companies have logo origin stories or hidden meanings.

The secret is to uncover that deeper or hidden meaning before designing the logo. A unique logo design will stem organically from whatever makes your company unique.

We’ll give you some actionable tips below to help you find a unique logo for your business. But first, let’s look at three popular, existing logos (Starbucks, Sony VAIO and Baskin Robbins) to see how they incorporated their company’s story into the logo design.

Starbucks

The original Starbucks logo started out as a brown, more “scandalous” version of its current logo. Initially, the company’s logo included an unclothed siren (double-tailed mermaid), as inspired by history, according to Starbucks writer Steve M:

There was a lot of poring over old marine books going on. Suddenly, there she was: a 16th-century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid, or siren.

In the logo, the siren was placed in a brown circle with the Starbucks original name, “Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spices”. According to Greek mythology, sirens were seductive, and a popular image among churches in Medieval Northern Europe. The idea was that the siren would symbolize the seductive nature of coffee and Seattle’s seaport ties (the original source of Starbucks coffee).

A few years later, Howard Schultz acquired the company and set out to modernize the logo. Several iterations of the logo later, the siren was simplified, the name was removed, and the logo looks a lot cleaner. But the charm and the story didn’t change, which contributes to the widespread success and fame of the logo.

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6 Ways User Interface and User Experience Design Can Help Your Business Amanda Bowman | July 24th, 2017

A smooth, visually appealing experience with your business’s website or mobile app is an important element in creating happy, loyal customers.

Big businesses may have an advantage because of their existing brand awareness and their larger marketing budgets, but that doesn’t mean small businesses and startups can’t compete with them. In some ways, smaller companies have an unfair advantage when it comes to design because their sites and apps don’t have to be so bloated.

Provide your customers with a straightforward, intuitive, attractive experience on your website, and they’ll be happy to become repeat customers.

A website or app’s ability to bring in repeat business relies on whether people understand and appreciate it. “Am I getting value from this? Is it user-friendly? Is it fun?” These questions form the basis of a prospective customer’s decision as to whether they will become regular users of that site or app, or will never come back.

That’s where User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design come into play.

User Experience is the way a person interacts with and uses a product, system or service. User Interface is closer to what we consider visual design. If you think of UI design as the tool you consume a bowl of cereal with – a spoon – UX design is the overall experience of pouring the cereal into a bowl and using your well-designed spoon to eat it.

You can create a web and app experience that is useful, pleasing, and impactful – but you have to understand how UX and UI can help you and optimize each to improve the experience for your customers and prospects.

Rahul Varshney, Co-creator of Foster.fm says:

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.

Knowing the difference between UX and UI design and how to best use each creates a significant competitive advantage for your business, and just like good customer service, is thoughtful, effective, and hugely impactful on the lasting success of your brand.

UX design

According to Time News, 55% of web users spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. This means that you have 15 seconds to get a person’s attention, clearly demonstrate the services you offer, and illustrate why your company is worth their time.

In fact, as we’ve previously pointed out:

the attention span of a human adult, according to BBC News, is 9 seconds (the Associated Press reports that in 2012, the average attention span for a human was 8 seconds). Nearly one fifth of all page views in 2012 lasted fewer than four seconds. And to add fuel to the fire, people read only approximately half of the words on a web page that has fewer than 111 words (and only 28% of the words on a web page that has more than 593 words).

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Twitter Link Roundup #302 – Terrific Reads for Small Business, Entrepreneurs, Marketers, and Designers! Amanda Bowman | July 21st, 2017

Einstein. Leonardo. Curie. The earth is occasionally graced with a mind so brilliant, all the rest of us can do is appreciate their unparalleled gifts to the world. Science offers us clues as to how a genius is born, but the truth is, we still don’t completely understand how those extraordinary brains were created. National Geographic explores how those trailblazers came to be in a fascinating look into the brightest minds the world has ever known. One promising bit for the less fantastically gifted among us: it’s not just what you’re born with – it’s how you nurture your talents, too. So break out that guitar, crack open your book of advanced differential equations, start practicing making a souffle, and bring out the genius inside you.

Now, we hope you enjoy another great set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (and on Ross’s Twitter account). We regularly share our favorite posts on entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, logo design, web design, startups, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

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5 Famous Introverted Leaders And What You Can Learn From Them Katie Lundin | July 20th, 2017

Most people imagine a successful leader as fast-acting and larger-than-life. In other words, an extrovert. Our Western culture naturally assumes that leaders must be extroverted “men of action.”

But why?

Marti Olsen Laney, doctor of psychology and author of The Introvert Advantage reports that 75% of the world’s population is extroverted. So, the odds are good that many leaders are extroverted. But, it’s not just their sheer numerical advantage that casts extroverts in the leading role.

Gareth Cook of Scientific American points out that,

In our society, the ideal self is bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight. We like to think that we value individuality, but mostly we admire the type of individual who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts. Introverts are to extroverts what American women were to men in the 1950s — second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent.

This inherent bias in favor of extroverted behavior pervades all aspects of our culture, including the political and business realms. But as Cook explains, introverts have a great deal to offer. A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research confirms it.

The study’s authors listened to conference calls, analyzing the linguistic patterns of 119 CEOs — 28 from tech firms and 91 from public firms. The initial findings suggest that reserved CEOs are connected, in some way, to a stronger bottom line.

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D. and author of The Introverted Leader reports in an article for Forbes that 40% of executives consider themselves to be introverted. That’s a pretty strong representation considering introverts only make up 25% of the population at large. Clearly, introverted leaders must be doing something right.

So what’s their secret to success?

We looked closely at 5 highly successful introverted leaders, seeking lessons and actionable advice that you can implement today.

 

Warren Buffett

Topping our list of impressive introverted leaders is the investment guru, billionaire, philanthropist Warren Buffett. Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett is one of the world’s richest men and a respected financial leader.

Behind the legend and hype, Buffett’s introversion is an indelible part of who he is – presenting both strengths and challenges to his eventual rise to success. The most valuable of those strengths may very well be Buffet’s ability to comprehend the abstract. Andy Hinds, in his article “Warren Buffett: The World’s Richest Introvert,” shares:

As Buffett explains in the Bloomberg documentary, his success is partially due to making concrete sense of the abstract: “If you look at the market as buying pieces of businesses, you will be able to see when the market is wrong.”

By peering through the numbers to the underlying reality, Buffett has been able to fly in the face of conventional wisdom and consistently outperform the market.

A 2012 study by Randy Buckner, a Harvard psychologist, revealed that introverts consistently show a thicker concentration of gray matter than their extroverted counterparts in areas of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) that control decision-making and abstract thought. Buffett’s ability to master abstract concepts – like the stock market – is likely linked to his natural introversion.

In that sense, Buffett’s introversion served his career incredibly well. However, some of his introverted traits presented him with obstacles to overcome. Buffet shares in an interview,

I had the intellect for business, but not the persona… I had to learn to communicate with people better, particularly in groups. I just couldn’t go through life being terrified to speak in public.

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Famous Logos And What Your Business Can Learn From Them Arielle Kimbarovsky | July 19th, 2017

Every company wants to be popular and for its logo to be instantly recognizable and famous. In fact, some entrepreneurs think that companies become famous because they have great logos.

That’s only partially correct. For example, Nike, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola have instantly recognizable and famous logos but each has spent hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars to promote their brands.

Most companies don’t have huge budgets to build brands that equal some of the best in the world. But even if your budget is small, you can still build a strong brand (that has the potential to join the ranks of the world’s best).

A strong brand starts with a strong company name and a good logo design.

Yet most entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t understand the key fundamentals of logo design (or naming for that matter; we wrote about naming in a prior post).

Understanding these design elements can help you find a terrific logo for your business.

Ultimately, when it comes down to creating a highly recognizable, memorable logo, you need good design. As the “I love New York” designer Milton Glaser says,

There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.

We can’t promise you that your logo will become the next Nike swoosh. But if you pay attention and learn from famous logos, you can find a design that supports and enhances, rather than undermines, your brand.

Here are the top 5 lessons businesses can learn from famous logos:

  • Simplicity is more important than intricacy.
  • Versatility is key.
  • Smart design is better than just pretty design.
  • Timelessness improves recognition.
  • Color is a game changer.

 

1. Simplicity is more important than intricacy.

Top logo designers agree that the best logos are simple. As we previously wrote:

Simplicity is vital. A complex logo will be difficult to print and reproduce and may not fully engage your audience. Take a moment and think about brands that are successful and/or famous. Most likely, you’ve thought of companies like Apple, Volkswagen, Target, McDonald’s, etc. What do they all have in common? They all have logos that are simple and easily recognized when printed by themselves, and when printed in solid black and white.

This idea of simplicity is well grounded in the KISS (keep it simple stupid) framework. Instead of spending hours adding details and nuances to a logo, the best logo designers find ways to take away from the logo and simplify the design. French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery does a great job summarizing this in one sentence:

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

A brand that does simplicity extremely well is Target.

The beauty of the Target logo is that there is nothing complicated about it. It’s just two red circles usually printed on a white background. The circles take the form of a bullseye, which connects the logo to the name “Target”, but the circles don’t actually illustrate a true bullseye with all the rings and numbers. Target took an existing object that connected to its name and simplified it.

In fact, Target’s logo is so simple that it’s easy for a child to draw, and importantly, to recognize. But the creation of the Target logo took a lot of thought. Target’s executives took the time to think about their brand messaging and what they wanted the logo to reinforce. In the end, simplicity won, according to chief creative officer Todd Waterbury:

The enduring strength of Target’s logo lies in its utter clarity. It is a design that is viewed equally from every side: from the front, the back, from the left and the right. The bull’s-eye is a symbol that is immediately, simultaneously seen and understood, one in the same, as precisely what it is.

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5 Successful Rebrands And What You Can Learn From Them Ross Kimbarovsky | July 18th, 2017

A brand is more than the company name and logo, but a strong brand starts with a great name and logo design.

As we previously explained:

A brand is the sum total of the experience your prospects and customers have with your company. A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility with your prospects and customers. Your company’s brand is, in many ways, its personality. Your brand lives in everyday interactions your company has with its prospects and customers, including the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, your presentations and booths at conferences, and your posts on social networks.

Whether you’re starting a new business or have an existing business, ask yourself: does your logo reflect your true brand?

If it doesn’t, consider rebranding your business.

Rebranding is often hard and many who try, fail.

But if your business is hitting a wall, a rebrand can help. A good rebrand can shed new light on a business, connecting it with customers in new and effective ways.

In this video, we look at five rebranding successes so that you can understand the strategies and use them in your own rebranding efforts.

Invest in your brand today to be more successful tomorrow.

Your company’s brand deserves a first class logo. Let crowdSPRING’s team of  200,000+ designers help you find it. It’s easy, fast and your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed – just click below to get started for as little as $299. 

7 Proven Ways to Improve Customer Service Amanda Bowman | July 17th, 2017

In most situations, a customer’s only direct human contact with a company is through the company’s customer service team. Usually, the customer isn’t happy about something and needs help. As a result, whether you run a Fortune 100 company or a small business, it’s critical to have great customer service people on your team.

With increasing competition and choice, customers and prospects offer their loyalty to a company only if the company gives them good reasons to do so.

Happy and satisfied customers are often long-term customers. If your company can show that it prioritizes the needs of its consumers, you’ll be way ahead of your competition. It’s should be obvious but worth a reminder: retaining customers you already have is more efficient, profitable, and impactful than having to seek out new ones. 

The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that on average:

  • Loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first initial purchase, and
  • It’s 6 – 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

Kayako’s survey found that 60% of consumers would be “unlikely or very unlikely” to give repeat business to a company that had given them bad service in the past – even, notably, if a trusted friend recommended the service.

First impressions matter, and you only get one. Customer service is almost always the first impression a customer will have with you, and it’s key to make it a priority for your business. Tony Hsieh from Zappos says:

Rather than spend a lot of money on marketing, we take most of the money we would’ve spent on paid advertising and re-invest it in customer experience…We really don’t think that customer service is an expense that you should try to minimize, it’s really an investment in your brand.

There will always be competitors with larger advertising budgets, lower prices, and other gimmicks designed to attract customers. Customers will often be able to find a cheaper product or service with the click of a button or the swipe of a finger. But most customers look for great value, not simply the lowest price. And that’s where customer service can tip the scales your favor.

As we wrote previously:

Your customer’s problems represent a major opportunity for you to build a relationship with them, surprise and delight them, and build a great reputation and engender strong word-of-mouth. How can you do this? It’s simple, really; building great relationships with customers is little different from building relationships with friends. It is a mater of spending time, paying attention, listening and responding. It works the same with customer relations; just like you learn to appreciate your new friends as you spend more time with them and get to know them better, you’ll build lasting connections with your customers, too.

By providing the best possible customer service, you will nurture increased trust and brand loyalty. Great customer service can mean the difference between your business thriving or sinking.

Here are 7 proven customer service tips to help you put smiles on your customers’ faces. We’ll discuss each in more detail below.

1. Align your customer service to your customers.
2. Go where your customers are.
3. Maximize your customer interactions.
4. Surprise your customers.
5. Be more productive with what you have.
6. Invest for the long term.
7. Give your customers a way to provide feedback.

1. Align your customer service to your customers.

It’s important that your customer service is aligned with your customer’s expectations. John Tschohl recently talked about this alignment of service strategy and expectations in a post for Desk.com:

Why is it so important to understand your different customer groups and tailor an optimal mix and level of service for them? Provide too little service or the wrong kind and customers may switch to the competition. Provide too much service, even the right kind, and your company might price itself out of the market and struggle to balance the books at the end of the year.

There are four elements that make up a service strategy:

  • Determine the customer segments you want to target,
  • What are the expectations of customers within these segments,
  • What service expectations your competitors may have already established, and
  • What your strategy is for exceeding these expectations.

Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #301 – Terrific Reads for Small Business, Entrepreneurs, Marketers, and Designers! Amanda Bowman | July 14th, 2017

As emoji have become more popular, they have impacted our culture’s psychology and language. Thousands of year ago, people communicated solely through symbols. Will this happen again in our future?

What do the way we see and use emoji say about us, individually and as a society? The Emoji Ligature Rorschach test might reveal something about the way we see ourselves, others, and our relationships. Take a look and see what you think, but be warned: there’s a parental advisory attached.

Now, we hope you enjoy another great set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (and on Ross’s Twitter account). We regularly share our favorite posts on entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, logo design, web design, startups, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

startupsblog

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Fresh from the SPRING: Janisa Audree | July 13th, 2017

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we recognize a gem submitted in this logo project:

 

The challenge of this project was to create a captivating logo for a honey wine. We raise a toast to this bee design.

Let us start the slow clap for Janisa. Check out more great work on Janisa’s profile page.

Nicely done, Janisa, nicely done!

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