As businesses across the country are looking to re-open, marketing teams are scrambling. The crisis continues, and it’s a constant struggle to find the right tone. People want more than images of people cheering first responders and grandparents cooing over babies on Zoom calls. It is okay to acknowledge the dangers, but don’t leverage it and risk looking self-centered. You can reassure your customers without patronizing them. Let them know you’re taking precautions — but there is no need to overwhelm them. You can be careful and still ‘feel’ normal.
And it couldn’t hurt to have laugh or two.Read More
Your brand is not silent in these times. Your doors may be locked. Your teams are working from home or furloughed. And your plans postponed or shelved entirely for now. But your brand still speaks.
Your brand is the sum total of your customers’ experience with you. Every sale, every interaction, and every communication is a building block of your brand. And two months of lockdown won’t put an end to that. These exchanges might be changing — but they’re not ending.
So keep communicating with your customers however you can. Because in the end, your brand is all about them.Read More
Many people think of branding as simply a company’s logo and maybe a catchy tagline, but it is much more than that. When marketing is executed seriously and thoroughly, it is a reflection of a company’s core spirit and personality. Branding can serve as a through line for all of a company’s communication efforts.
Your brand builds a level of trust between your company and prospective customers. It is usually the first impression of your company and its products, and consistent branding reinforces your credibility and reputation. It can also preview your company’s personality and values, giving them a better idea what to expect from you.
Branding also empowers growth. Consistent look and messaging becomes exponentially more important as an organization grows. Branding can help new hires understand your core traits, and reflect those values to new customers. The closer your branding is to the true strengths and important goals of your company, the greater the effect it will have as the organization expands.
It also provides consistency across media in your advertising, and helps guide content online. Your brand is your voice, and the more readily it is recognized by your audience, the greater the connection they will feel. This is another reason that your voice truly reflects the company (and vice-versa), as insincerity is quickly noticed and objected to by your audience.
Branding can even build financial value. Strong branding makes a company look reputable and reliable. Consistency builds faith in both customers and investors, and increase the perceived value of a company, and helps position you for growth.
Finally, memorable branding can draw new customers. It can help with customer recognition, and fuel word-of-mouth promotion. It can position your company as a leader in their niche, and someone to pay attention to.
To unleash the power of your branding, you need commitment, and a partner who understands how to maximize your message.Read More
Software engines and ‘designer’ templates are everywhere these days, promising to splash even the smallest business across the internet and beyond. But are you really doing yourself any favors, plugging your business into someone else’s formula?
Any good branding comes out of an organization’s own traits, and reflects its values, its goals, and personality. Moreso, it is informed by your customers, and their experience and expectations around you and your products.
This is the real work of branding. To take a critical look at a company, find its uniqueness and competitive strengths, and craft an identify to show it off to the world. It is more than just a slick logo or a catchy tagline, it is the window through which prospective customers view your business.
Branding builds trust, and shows your customers that you are serious and committed to the details. It creates synergy throughout your promotional efforts, each reflecting the same core message and working toward the same goals.
Branding cannot create sold business values, but it does reinforce them. It serves as a constant reminder of the personality and mission of your company. From your own employees to the person you’ve just handed your business card to, your branding is a touchstone.
You shouldn’t shoehorn your company into some pre-formatted image, or grab onto the latest visual trend or marketing buzzwords. You need a partner who is prepared to do the hard work of building your brand from the inside out.Read More
We live in an era where companies face not only their competitors, but ’experiential’ competitors offering similar products across different industries, and even ‘perceptual’ competitors that change the way your customers think about doing business with you. And your customers’ expectations bleed across these boundaries. If companies like yours don’t react to these changes. they will surely be left behind.
This is called liquid expectations, and it will change the way marketers interact with customers. The era of shouting to the crowd through mass media is over, and companies are going to have to create more personal relationships if they want to keep their customers’ loyalty.
Customers are asserting their place as equal partners, and should be treated as such. New media allow companies to communicate more personally, and give them a voice in your messaging. In this way they can become more than passive consumers of your message, and be active participants in the conversation. Treated well, these customers can be your greatest cheerleaders.
Moreover, today’s customers are not merely interested in your products. They are more interested in experiences. This goes beyond customer service, although that is crucial. Your customers want to feel as if they are a part of something, and good marketing can do that. Your customers are your companies’ greatest asset, and should be rewarded as such. Interact with them, learn their desires, and respond to their needs.
Interactive media and data tools make this easier than ever before. This is more than slapping names on email headers. It is learning what messages a customer responds to, and building new messages to reinforce that can build stronger bonds. Allowing their voices to be heard, and amplified, can turn them into champions of your business. And giving them added choice has show — shown by companies like Amazon to Oreos — can boost your bottom line.
Finally, an eye must be kept on the market’s changing perceptions. How a customer orders a pizza today affects how they expect they expect to find a doctor tomorrow. Digital, mobile, and machine-learning technologies are altering the customer service landscape in ways we still don’t understand. But your customers will adapt quickly, and expect as much from you in short order. And those that don’t deliver on the experience will lose out because of it.
You need partners that understand this changing marketplace and help you make and maintain strong relationships with your customers. And to keep you fluid.Read More
For the past three years, the world of interface design has gotten flatter and flatter. Bevels, drop shadows, gradients and photo textures have gotten dumped in favor of bold colors and clean lines. For good or ill, this is a trend that is not going anywhere soon.
Where did flat come from
When people’s attention first drifted from the physical world to digital approximations, it was seen as comforting to reflect the look and feel of actual objects. Graphical PCs had desktops, calendars had circled dates and curled edges and deleted files were dumped into cartoon trashcans. This is called ‘skeumorphism’ (try that one at your next cocktail party), and the concept controlled interface design for decades.
Today’s users don’t need these obvious metaphors. They know their files are located inside directories without pixelated manila folders. This has led to cleaner designs, simpler iconography and a more streamlined way of looking at the online world.
Made widely known by Windows 8’s Metro interface and later iterations of iOS, flat design is easily the most dominant trend online. But its simplicity itself has its drawbacks.
Usability. As symbols and shapes overtake literal interpretations, it becomes harder to determine the function of more abstract elements. Squares, circles and various arrow shapes mean different things on different sites, and it is often hard to determine what is a button in some circumstances. Color becomes a much more important indicator of function, and if not used wisely it can serve to distract more than inform.
Personality. Another concern with simplified, flat design is an increasing sameness across the web. Your simplified symbol in a colored square is only so different from your competitor’s. And even those full-bleed photos that your colored boxes appear on top of start to look the same after a while.
Details and interactions become more important as things get simpler, and your brand’s personality needs to be brought out in more subtle ways.
Standing out in flat
Since this design trend is not going anywhere (and often provides us with clean, useful interfaces across many platforms), it is important to find ways to make it work for you.
Type. Years of web designs may have led you to believe that there are few choices in online typography. Now, there are many ways of embedding vast numbers to type choices in your design (far beyond comic sans). Clean distinctive type can be a great way to personalize your flat design and stand out from the pack.
Transitions. With fewer, simpler elements, how they work together becomes more important. Interface elements can expand and contract, choices slide in and out, and smooth transitions from item to item help the user connect with your design.
Choices. I suppose it goes without saying, but with fewer choices each one becomes more important. Is your color scheme bright or monochromatic, modern or retro? If you are using photos, do they educate or stimulate emotions? There is little room for decoration in flat design, so thoughtful decision-making becomes more important than ever.
Is flat design here to stay or is it just latest trend? How do use it to create your own voice, or have you moved on to the next big thing? Let us know!
It goes without saying any more that your business should be connecting with customers and prospects on-line, but its difficult for people to connect with a corporate entity or make friends with a logo. So how can your business leverage the power of social media and build stronger customer relations?
Many successful brands seems to grow straight out of the personalities of their leaders, but most of us aren’t Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. There are things that anyone can do when presenting themselves as the ‘face’ of their company.
Tell Your Story
As important as product benefits are to your customers, they are far more likely to connect with your narrative. How your business was started, what you are trying to do, and what it means to people’s lives are the kinds of things that help build a great story. Merge this story into your marketing messages and connect your experiences with your customers’ goals. Larger organizations should have multiple ‘faces’ for different aspects, and everyone should be aware of the overarching story and how they connect to it.
Be An Authority
Social media is about networking, and you should be a valuable member to your networks. Use your skills and experience to share your message wherever you can. Creating videos, writing articles, posting on message boards and making your self available for interviews are great ways to boost your online persona and share your story. This will also build rapport and trust with your customers without pressuring
them to buy anything. And this will pay off in the long run when they do need your company’s offerings.
Take Your Lumps
Joining in the online conversation about your company will inevitably lead to facing complaints from customers. Learn to take criticism with dignity. No matter how good your products are, and how responsive your customer service is, there will be someone who is dissatisfied. How you respond is more important than the complaint itself. Try to respond to their concerns and use the feedback to improve the experience for others.
The vast majority of people check reviews before making purchases, and place much more trust in sites with positive and negative reviews. Request feedback from your customers — even offer incentives for it — and use criticism to improve your process. If a customer’s complaint is valid, respond privately and post a public response when any dispute is resolved. Other customers will appreciate your responsiveness with getting involved in a public argument.
The online conversation about your company and products is going on every day, its up to you to become involved in this conversation on put the best ‘face’ on it.Read More
There is a growing movement in corporate communications to let your customers see your whole personality — warts and all– and humanize your image. Marketing media is no longer a one-way channel, customers can respond to your message almost as fats as you put it out there. There is a conversation going on about you, and its in your best interest to join in.
Contrary to what you might feel in you gut, customers feel better about companies when they can read both good and bad comments about it. In fact, a recent survey shows 68% trusted reviews more when there were both positive and negative statements.
Not only that, but opening yourself to comments gives you fast, open feedback that cab help you improve your products and service. And its been shown that customers value honesty and openness more than the illusion of perfection that sparks cynicism and disbelief.
This movement even has a kicky name (as all marketing trends must): flawsome. I can’t say I’m behind the name, but I can totally get behind being brave enough to tell the truth about yourself. And to that end, here are a few tips to show your flawsomeness.
- Be open. Enable comments on your communications, and reviews on your products. If there are open forums where your customers gather, join in the conversation.
- Be transparent. Share reviews from other sources. Acknowledge mistakes and communicate your plans to repair them. Don’t try to hide errors, because they will be found and waved in your face.
- Be responsive. Embrace the feedback, both good and bad. Not everyone is going to like you, but how your listen to and react to these people will show your strengths and might even convert some of the ‘haters’ into customers.
Your company spends a lot of resources and effort to tell people that its awesome, and perhaps opening yourself up to your own humanity might help them believe it. No matter what, closer engagement with your customers can only make the relationship stronger– flaws and all.Read More