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Archive for the ‘Corporate Identity’ Category

One of the nicest things about working at Holy Cow Branding is the flexible schedule.  If I want to leave at 4:30 to get a haircut, that is when I leave.  If I wake up early, and am ready to work, I come to the office.

That was the plan anyway.

I was so engrossed in setting up Facebook Insights for Chile Bomba that I completely lost track of time and didn’t leave until 5:30.  If I had realized it was that late, I wouldn’t have even tried to get the haircut.    When I finally made it to Sport Clips, there were a few guys ahead of me, and I was told it would be about 30 minutes.  At the check in, Sabrina, told me that if I wanted to go get a coffee at Starbucks, I would have enough time.  She even offered to call me on my cell when it was close to my turn.

With time to kill, I headed to the Harris Teeter, to get some food stuffs.  On the way thru Kameron’s check-out line I used my KeyRing App to get my reward prices.  After the usual 30 seconds of blindly staring at the receipt with the only purpose being to look like I am doing something smart, I actually do find an error.  This is an amazing feat due to the complexity that is the grocery store receipt.  Good reporting tip, it doesn’t matter how hard it is to decipher the data as long as there is one number at the bottom that says you are winning.

I went back to the cashier and he apologized and told me to take it to his manager at the customer service desk.  When I first looked in that direction I saw no one, it was a ghost town, and before I was 10 feet from the counter there she was.  The manager person, Alva, appeared from thin air, maybe not thin air, she was helping another customer.  It only took her one look at the receipt to see the error and make the correction.

Ordinarily I would not have wasted the time to make the correction, but I had time to kill and I was rewarded for it.  I got $1.87 back in cash!  (Who knew pears were so expensive) And I had that weird feeling that while the world seems like a dismal place, my neighborhood was doing all right.

After stashing the produce in the trunk of my car I made my way back to Sport Clips and as soon as I walked in am told I had great timing and that I was next.  She even remembered my name! What great customer service!

Now, fueled with a sense of community, I pull out my note pad and start writing about this whole experience.  Of course, before I get much done I am being called up.  We have the usual idle chit chat and she asked what I was working on.  I told her it was a blog article about customer service.  I am not sure if that had anything to do with it, but it was an exceptional haircut.

Post Script

Cara, the hair cutter, actually knows enough about sports to foster that feeling of the barber shop and we had a lively conversation about the National League Central division.  She is a Milwaukee Brewer’s Fan, and I am a Chicago Cubs Fan.  The next day the Brewers beat the Cubs in 13 innings.  At least I got a good haircut, and there is always next year.

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Rock Wall At Clif BarIn a Job Satisfaction Survey released recently by the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) workers revealed benefits, compensation, and work/life balance are the most important factors to their overall job satisfaction.

Job benefits and compensation don’t look like they did in your Dad’s day. This generation of workers values a variety of things that can be provided with a small effort from the employer or strain on the company’s budget. Aside from employee retention, think of what these perks can do for your brand and corporate culture!

Check out this infographic to see what Google, Twitter and LinkedIn have done for their employees.

Here are a few simple ideas for you to consider…

Flexible hours & comp time.
Allowing employees to begin their 8-hour workday early or a little later is a small thing on the part of the employer, but can be very helpful an employee. Giving an employee the freedom to put in extra hours this week to get a few hours off next week is another way employers can help their employees have a good work/life balance. Job sharing isn’t a new concept, but it still has great application in this economy. Two part-time workers with flexible hours can do a full-time job for less than one employee.

A dog friendly atmosphere is more common than ever, especially in the high tech and creative industries. Allowing Fido to come to work is free and brings a whole new vibe to the office. Visiting canines should be well-behaved but, with a few guidelines, they are a great way to lighten the mood of any office.

Once or twice a month the entire team should eat together. While the whole crew brown-bags their lunch, you’ll be surprised what you will learn about each other. This is also a chance for the boss to be accessible to visit with employees, which is rare in some companies. At Holy Cow, we call it “grazing in the bull pen.”

Flexible space. Do decor guidelines stifle your employee’s creativeness? Asana, the company owned by Facebook Co-creator Dustin gives a $10,000 allowance for office setup/decor. While we don’t all have that kind of budget, encouraging employees to take ownership of their space helps them connect to work in a new way.

Do you have the ability to barter with your vendors or customers? Perhaps some of them can provide your employees with goods or services in exchange for something you do. This is a better deal than a cash benefit since there are no taxes with this kind of perk.

Competition. No, not the sales kind, but the creative kind.  A chili-cook off or a birthday cake throw down might be a great way to spend a Friday afternoon, or Monday if you want to kick off the week right.  A Raleigh hotel hosts an employee pumpkin carving contest. The team carves their pumpkins, then sets them out around the hotel for guests to enjoy.

Bike Racks. If employees live close enough to bike to work, encourage their commute by giving them a place to park. The Clif Bar Company in Emeryville, CA has loaner bikes for their employees to use for errands close to the office. What an easy perk!

Gaming. A foosball table takes up a minimal space but is a fun lunch time distraction. Besides, you’ll be in good company. Facebook, Twitter & Linked In all have foosball tables at their corporate offices.

What do your employees value? Finding the perks that speak to the needs of your employees then providing them is what will keep them off Monster.com.

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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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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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I recently had lunch with some old friends. After a long period of “remember whens” we started talking about what we do at our jobs. I started listing some of the things I do on a daily basis; I update the company blog, check e-mails, research on Twitter,  and maintain Facebook pages for clients…

While I was listing, my friend Tim stopped me mid-sentence and asked, “what’s this whole ‘Twitter” thing about?”

As a Gen Y’er, we always want to stay connected. It’s who we are. Gen Y’ers grew up with the internet and cell phones attached to us. I know if I don’t have my cell phone, which has my entire life in it, I’m lost. I know if I don’t check my email and all the social networking sites I belong to, I am probably out of the loop with all my friends. And if I don’t check my Twitter account, I won’t know what is going on within the advertising community, around the world, or even locally.

So how was I going to explain Twitter to a guy who doesn’t really get the Social Networking frezny? “It’s like a Super Target®,” I explained. It’s like going to the grocery store and the mall at the same time; it’s a one-stop shop! When you sign onto Twitter you’re signing onto multiple sources of information, for example

  • If I want to know what my friends are doing at work, Twitter tells me.

 

  • If I want to know what’s going on across the globe, CNN Twitter will keep me up to speed.

 

  • If I can’t remember what Ellen Degeneres is doing on her show that day, I can find it on Twitter.

 

  • If I am a store owner and I want to let my followers know about an upcoming sale, I can Tweet about it.

 

  • If I want to send President Obama a message about Bo, the new first dog, TWITTER LETS ME!

“Twitter is not so much about connecting with your friends, it’s about broadcasting information.” Stan Schroeder explained in an article on Mashable, The Social Networking Guide. It is the ultimate way to connect with companies, organizations and people, while filtering out tweets that are not relevant to you.

As PR, Advertising and Marketing, professionals we can use Twitter as an important tool in our every day work. PR practitioners are now using Twitter as a crisis mangament tool. Using Twitter during a crisis keeps readers updated in real time while using Twitpics to show live footage of a situation as it is happening. One example where we saw Twitter used during a crisis, was when Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company openly “tweeted” about a situation that developed when a Ford Fan Web site announced to the public that Ford was attacking their site. Through a series of Tweets, Monty kept followers of his Twitter account up-to-date. He even asked followers to “retweet” the messages that he posted so that he could reach more of the public. By keeping the Ford Followers on Twitter in touch with what was going on during the crisis, the Ford Motor Company was letting the public know that they care about the situation and want to find a solution to the problem.

 Ad agencies are also taking advantage of this fast moving technology by developing focus groups on Twitter. Tweeters can quickly let the public know their opinions of brands, products and services, and companies can quickly search them based on key words/phrases.  According to an Article on AdAge by Lee Mikles, “Twitter has been a great tool for us to monitor buzz about products or campaigns for our clients.”

 As I explained all of this to my friend, I told him that social networking sites are more than just keeping connected with friends and family. You can know what’s going on at the White House or even with Ashton Kutcher. It’s a one-stop-shop. It’s like when I go to Super Target®, I can get my groceries, household items and the lastest fashion trends all at the same place! For PR, Advertising and Marketing practitioners, social media give us the opportunity to quickly learn about our markets. We have the chance to stay connected with the public, keep up-to-date with current events, gain insight on industry trends and learn more about people’s likes and dislikes. We are being supplied with all the information we could ever ask for. We just need to make sure we use it.

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A business card is so much more than a 3.5 x 2 inch piece of paper. It is often the first marketing piece a prospect will receive from you. You use it to introduce yourself, as well as to leave behind so people will remember you – and hopefully call you.

So, what does your business card say about you or your company? Does it communicate that you are unique or superior in any way? Is it interesting or fun, or is it just a tool to help people get in touch with you? Personally, I think it should do all of the above.

Let’s talk about function.
Your business card is meant to perform a specific marketing role for you: to share your contact information with others. It’s important that your card clearly identify the following:

  • Your company name
  • Your name & position
  • Your email address
  • A phone number where you can be reached

(Other information, like your address and (maybe) fax number are important, too, but the list above has the critical information someone needs to get in touch with you. In this day and age, no one is going to show up on your doorstep without having called or emailed you first and expect positive results. And, when was the last time someone sent you a fax to get in touch with you? Point taken.)

Here are some other functional things to keep in mind:

  1. 1. If your company name does not clearly say what your company does, add your tagline or some bullets (no matter how much we all want to think we are unforgettable, there is a good chance that we might give our card to someone who can’t recall what it is we do… so don’t make him or her guess!)
  2. 2. If your email address and your web address are the same (____companyname.url), then you don’t have to list both. It’s redundant. Use the space you save to make other pertinent information easier to read.
  3. 3. The paper you pick is important. People sometimes write notes about their meeting with you on your card. Make sure they can write on yours. I prefer uncoated papers. They tend to look more professional and don’t smudge.

Have a sense of style.
Your business card should provide insight into the corporate culture of your business. If you are supposed to be creative, then your card should reflect that. If you are trying to convey that you are solid and professional, then your card might be a little more refined. But, remember, refined doesn’t mean boring. Your card is going to have to stand out against however many other cards are on file. Invest the time, and money, to have your card professionally designed. It will make a difference in the long run.

For some inspiration, check out this post from Bittbox. There are a lot of great ideas there.

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