Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

Every organization seeks to acquire many clients in hopes of profit and success in the future. However, in order to do so, it is essential that one builds and maintains a healthy, trustworthy relationship with their clients. Although this may seem like common sense, it takes just as much effort building and maintaining relationship with them as it does working on their business project. It is a continuous ladder of steps to enhance and maintain relations with them.

Tips for keeping client relationships healthy:

1. Keep Lines of Communication Open

  •  Build a professional relationship with them via phone, email, lunch meetings, conference calls etc.
  •  Keep them up-to-date on various projects you are working on and any new company info
  • Get to know your client better, what their business is about, their short and long term goals and what they need.

2. Be Transparent

  • Tell all company policies and procedures up front. Lay it out for them so no one makes assumptions
  • Explain the benefits of working with your company and the consequences if they part ways with you.
  • Be crisp and clear. Tell them exactly what you plan on doing and when you plan on doing it to sustain business with them in the future.

3. Be Willing to Say Yes

  •  Listen to their ideas.
  •  Incorporate these ideas into your brainstorming and projects for them if it meets or surpasses the requirements of the project(s) you are doing for them.

4. Be Willing to Say No

  • If a client wants something that your company cannot offer, point them in another direction.
  •  On the same hand, if they offer an idea that doesn’t work, let them know up front by pointing to various evidence of why it wont work and provide them with alternatives as well.
  •  Saying no will give you more freedom and respect in the long run.

5. Establish Credibility

  •  Let your client know they can trust you. BE THE EXPERT.
  •  Meet deadlines. If deadlines are not met, this may harm the success of your client and your success at acquiring new clients in the future.
  •  Present yourself in a professional manner (the way you dress and communicate!).

6. Don’t Just Stay Inside the Lines: Problem Solving

  • Your client has come to you because they have a problem or want to improve. Develop ways to assist and solve these problems by shedding a light on new ideas that many not be obvious to them.

Although this is easier said than done, following these steps lead to a healthy client relationship; And a happy client always equals a happy relationship.


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EmotionsYour brand essence is the couple of words that sum up how your business connects with your customers and prospects.

What’s tricky about your brand essence is that it’s not about features and benefits. Those are easy to articulate, and easy to describe, measure and compare. Your essence is what is felt when others interact with your brand. Deeply, passionately, remarkably.

Think about some of the worlds most powerful brands:

Cruising down the road in a BMW Z3 brings you joy.

Starbucks rewards everyday moments.

Disney… the most wonderful place on earth… creates magical fun.

Part of what has made these brands so successful is the fact that they have easily defined, easily understood essences. By studying creating a specific way for customers to expericene their brand, the essence is born.

Some guidelines for you to think about as you consider what your brand essence is:

  1. Tap into what your customer feels when they work with you.
  2. Think about how customers experience your brand.
  3. Make sure the essence is consistently delivered.
  4. Consider how your essence will extend throughout your brand as your business grows.

Here is a great presentation put together by branding expert Kirk Phillips that has terrific information to help you understand the purpose and value of a strong brand essence.

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You can’t figure out where you’re going until you figure out where you’re at… and where you’ve been. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your branding and marketing initiatives, both past and present, are essential to creating a beefy new brand or realigning an existing one.

Are you ready to move forward? Alright, then. It’s time to perform a brand audit!

Calculating the brand of an entire company is a mighty big job, though. That’s why we’ve compiled some questions and materials lists to help you get it all sorted out.

Brand Audit Questions
Here’s a list of tried and true questions that will help you figure out what sets your business apart from the herd. Remember, what your customers think of your brand is far more important than what you think of it.

  1. Do you know what makes your business different from competitors?
  2. Does your market know what makes your business different from competitors?
  3. Is this difference a positive one?
  4. Are all of your employees aware of this difference?
  5. Do you make it a priority to educate new employees about this difference, and how they should communicate it?
  6. Is this difference made clear to prospects in your sales processes?
  7. Do your marketing materials focus on this difference?
  8. Is this difference apparent throughout all your materials (see below) in a consistent manner?
  9. Is the pricing of your product or service based on perception of value, rather than the pricing of competitors?
  10. Do you have measurable, strategic campaigns in place to market and support your brand?

Who to ask:

  • Executives
  • Marketing Managers, Brand Managers
  • Mid-levels
  • Entry Levels
  • Clients, Customers

Brand Audit Materials
Here’s a big ole list of the materials you’ll need to figure out the sum of your brand. Remember, you’ll want archived materials as well as current ones. Sometimes old ideas can help you form new ideas, or at least help you figure out which ideas have already been less than impactful.

  • Logos
  • Color Palettes
  • Names (Company, Division, Products, Services)
  • Taglines
  • Trademarks
  • Messaging Documents
  • Letterhead, Envelopes, Business Cards
  • Invoices, Checks
  • Brochures
  • Newsletters
  • Ads
  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • Website
  • Blog
  • Videos
  • Internal Messaging
  • Merchandise
  • Clothing, Uniforms
  • Signage
  • Interior Design
  • Trade Show Booths

What these materials can tell you:

  • What you own
  • How you are divided and aligned
  • How you are positioned
  • What your messaging is/was
  • What your visual elements communicate

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Control KeyA mission critical strategy for your website is ensuring that it has fresh content to keeps visitors coming back.

A static site, while it can perform several basic functions, doesn’t provide your brand with the “stickiness” it deserves, and it certainly doesn’t give the appearance that you’re actively involved in it’s upkeep. Take charge of your website. Allocate time and resources to its maintenance, and, if your new content is worthy, you’ll find that it breeds brand loyalty by bringing ­visitors back for more and more. A dynamic site can also grow your market. For example, fresh content infused with the right keywords can help you stay abreast of current search trends.

Staying on top of your site isn’t as much work as you might think. Here are a few steps you can follow to take charge of your online brand:

1.  Invest in a Content Management System

It’s no secret that few small business owners have the time or know-how to fiddle with backend web development. So, ask your developer about implementing a content management system that allows you to easily update your site’s content without fear of messing up the code. It may seem like an extraneous cost up front, but if you’re serious about keeping your site (and its visitors) up to date, the initial dollar amount pales in comparison to the fees you’ll incur when the bills for all those update requests pop up in the mail.

2. Upload News Items on a Regular Basis

     Whether your site contains a media room or a press release archive, it’s important that visitors don’t have to go off-site to find out your business’s business. An updated list of news items on your site shows that your business is active and making headlines. Just make sure your news is newsworthy.

3.  Add a Twitter Feed

     If your business is on Twitter, you could provide your website visitors with a link that allows them to follow you. Better yet, you could add a Twitter feed to your site and give them a taste of all the benefits they have to gain from following you.

4.  Incorporate a Blog

     The benefits of a blog are too numerous to cover in full here. In short, if you aren’t blogging, you probably should be. Blogs help position you as an expert in your field by allowing you to share your unique knowledge in a forum that can educate and inspire discussion among peers and prospects. As such, blogs are public sources of knowledge that consistently add fresh content, and can help position your site for optimal search rankings… if it’s within your domain. Make sure you aren’t taking the easy way out and sending visitors to a blog with a separate domain name. Go the extra mile and have your blog incorporated into your site.

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How do you consistently deliver brand value? One of the best ways to do is with an SOP.

Standard Operating Procedures ManualAn up-to-date process documentation handbook is an invaluable tool for any organization.  While it takes time and man-hours to create, the handbook is an investment for many reasons.

Process Documentation is an opportunity for the department/organization head to:

  1. Give detailed instructions on how certain processes are to be handled in the work place.
  2. Have control over how each person is trained because there is one set of instructions.
  3. Have a reference point of accountability. Employees should be evaluated by how s/he follow the process.
  4. Trouble shoot process breakdown.  Many errors and problems can be quickly diagnosed by determining if process steps were followed.
  5. Avoid frustration for shimself and the employees when procedures are clearly laid out and communicated.

Process Documentation is a reference point for:

  1. Training new employees
  2. A refresher for any employee completing a task that isn’t done very often
  3. A reminder for everyone in the department of how something is done

Process Documentation is a training tool:
New Employees get the whole picture, in terms of the department or organization, by looking at this documentation. What does this mean for you?

  1. Less variables in training because everyone is learning from the same playbook
  2. A more seamless transition when a new person takes over duties

When your employees know how to execute your brand properly, your customers see results… and so does your bottom line.

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Your company’s personality is communicated by its visual identity. The visual identity is actually a lot more than just your logo. And, it does a lot more than simply help people remember who you are. It’s the backbone of the persona otherwise know as your business. When you let your company have character, you’ll find that it truly resonates with others. In this day and age, it’s mission critical to have a brand that connects with your customers. Below are the elements of a corporate identity. How does yours measure up?

Visual identity begins with your:

1. Company name and tagline
2. Logo

These are no brainers. They provide immediate, on-going recognition. The more memorable they are, the stronger their impact will be. Make sure they reflect what you do, as well as they type of company you are. This is your first chance to make an impression… make it a good one!

Color Swatches

Then, you have your:

3. Corporate colors
4. Coordinating color palette

Colors are pretty amazing. They showcase your company’s personality, and evoke emotion. At Holy Cow Branding, our corporate colors are chocolate and robin egg (notice that we even use fun names for our colors). The color brown represents dependability, simplicity and steadfastness. The light blue evokes feelings of calmness and confidence. You can also use colors outside of your primary corporate colors to highlight information or to make it easier to identify departments or product lines. We have a whole palette of colors, but mostly use brown, blue and a vibrant red to bring in the elements of energy, fun and creativity.

Design Styles

Bring your brand to life with your:

5. Look & Feel
6. Tone & Manner

The look & feel is the design style you use. It helps people get an idea of what your firm is like based on the way your marketing materials look. For example, it could be very linear, with a lot of lines and sharp corners, or it could have a lot of flourishes and tendrils. They create totally different pictures in your mind, don’t they?

Tone & manner isn’t what you say, it’s how you say it. Do you sound conversational or technical? Do you act as if you’re participating in a witty repartee or just telling it like it is? Tone & manner and look & feel introduce (and remind) people of your corporate culture. They help people set expectations around what your company is like. Your tone & manner should directly relate to how your customers want to hear information. If you don’t meet their needs, they’ll stop listening.

Lastly, there are:

7. Catchphrases
8. Category-defining phrases for your product or service lines

These help differentiate you. Little things, like when we say, “Moo to you!” help make a positive impression. These impressions help people to recognize and remember us. It also invites customers to join in with clever banter. I can’t tell you how many times people have mooed at us! The category-defining phrases help people relate to you, too. Think of apple with their ipads, imacs and iphones. They nailed it.

So, work toward making your visual identity consistent, distinctive and memorable. Create an image of your company so profound that others can’t wait to be associated with it. Start big, with a complete corporate initiative, or small scale with subsections of your organization, products, services or even specific programs. Either way, remember to… be consistent. Be different. Be bold.

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Delta AirplaneLast week, I flew up to New York City. I like to have everything ready to go the night before I leave, including checking in, reserving my seat and getting my boarding passes together. When I went to log in to Delta, I saw that my flight qualified for an eBoarding pass.

“What is this!” I exclaimed to myself. Delta delivered a QR code right to my phone! How exciting!

QR Code for WikipediaQR, or Quick Response codes are barcodes that you can scan with the camera on your smart phone or with other barcode readers. They store information the marketer wants to offer to improve or extend a user’s experience. This really helps improve the effectiveness of print as a driver for increased online interaction.

I thought it might be too good to be true, but the QR code worked fabulously. The Delta staff new what it was, knew how to scan it and created a very streamlined experience for me.

Kudos to you, Delta, for using a QR code to positively impact the brand experience.

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