Brand Management

Have you heard of the ‘lone genius’ myth? It’s the idea that the world’s greatest creatives – think Michelangelo, Einstein, or Steve Jobs – accomplished their artistic and technological feats by themselves. It can be an attractive myth, especially for creative and artistic types, but it doesn’t tell the full story behind these world-changing ideas. Collaboration has been and always will be a vital part of the creative process – even if it might not seem as glamorous. And while your creative team might not be trying to reinvent the wheel with your brand projects, collaboration can be the key that unlocks a new level of depth and potential impact within your work. But don’t just take our word for it. In this blog, we’ll answer the question, “How does collaboration expand the creative process”? 

We’ll outline the four stages of the creative process and illuminate how working together can take creative ideas from good to great. 

Why is collaboration important in creativity?

These days, especially if you’re working with highly distributed teams, it can feel like collaboration is more of a roadblock to creativity than an aid. But it’s all about shifting this mindset. 

Imagine you’re working on a new infographic for your sales team. You’re not entirely sure how to visually represent some of the information you’re working with, but you charge on anyway with your best ideas. You now have a decent piece of sales content, but it doesn’t perform as well as you might’ve hoped. 

Now imagine that instead of working alone, you collaborated from the start with one of your senior graphic designers. Working together, you found innovative ways to showcase your content, resulting in an end product that outperformed your expectations. 

Time and time again in history, the best ideas are brought to life when people who bring different skills and experiences work together. The more minds you can bring together under a common goal, the more productive and efficient your creative process can become as well. A well-organized creative team can create better content faster. 

So what can creative collaboration look like in your organization?

Collaboration at any of these levels can supercharge your ability to meet deadlines, stay agile, and produce content with the biggest impact.

How does collaboration expand the creative process?

We can break the typical creative process down into four stages: 

  1. Preparation: The preparation stage is all about deciding what shape your project will take. Are you making a video or a blog, an infographic, or script? In this stage, you’ll gather inspiration and resources, and think about any potential problems or challenges you might face in the creative process.
  1. Incubation: This is the stage where connections start to happen. Your mind is turning your ideas over and over, analyzing them from every angle.
  1. Illumination: Here’s where that famous ‘aha!’ moment comes into play. You’ve now got a fully formed idea and roadmap on how to get there. 
  1. Verification: In this stage, your idea enters the process of becoming reality. You continue to refine and reshape, until you get a fully-formed end product. Then, it’s time to evaluate. If you still find flaws or opportunities to strengthen your idea, you move back to the drawing board and begin the iterative process. 

And while a person can move between these four stages of the creative process on their own, collaboration can make the journey from point A to point B much easier. 

How collaboration enhances creativity at the preparation stage

When you’re in the preparation stage, you’re gathering as much information as possible about the type, size, and scope of your project. This process is incredibly important because it sets the foundation and direction of your creative work. The most successful projects start with a clear understanding of what you and your organization want to achieve, what kind of resources you have at your disposal, and what constraints or issues you may have to watch out for. 

Tackling this stage of the creative process with others can help you uncover more ideas, explore different strategies, and flag even more potential challenges and opportunities. 

Tips for collaboration at this stage:

Why collaboration propels the incubation stage

The incubation stage can oftentimes be one of the longest and hardest parts of the creative process. You’re allowing your mind to process the information you gathered in the first stage while you work on other things. Sometimes this can lead to a quick “Aha!” moment, but it can also lead to mental blocks.

Undergoing this process with a team ensures multiple people are actively engaging and thinking about the project. Bouncing around ideas together can help you make new connections and uncover new insights and potential solutions that you might not have been able to see otherwise. 

Tips for collaborating at this stage:

How collaboration refines the illumination stage

Breakthroughs happen at the illumination stage. Whether you finally found a solution to a problem or made a connection that will take your project to the next level, this is the stage where your end product starts to take shape.

At this stage, you may have various possible ideas and solutions competing for attention in your mind. Collaborating with your team members can make it easier to sort through these ideas, refining the best ones before deciding to move forward. 

Tips for collaborating at this stage:

Implementing collaboration at the verification stage

You’ve got a great idea – what now? At this stage in the creative process, your goal is to test if your idea holds up in reality. You’re also communicating the value behind your idea to make sure it meets the goals it set out to achieve. 

If there are any cracks in your idea, this is where they’ll start to show. But you might not know them if you’re not collaborating with others. By working through this stage as a team, you can share and discuss real-time feedback, which will ultimately help you test and refine your idea until it’s perfect.

Tips for collaborating at the verification stage

After plenty of discussion, feedback, and refining as needed, you and your team can present your fully-formed creative project to the rest of your organization. And it will be all the stronger because you worked together.
There’s no scaling up creativity without collaboration. And at Marq, we believe in breaking down barriers to creative collaboration. With our brand templating platform, anyone in your organization can take action on their ideas and maintain brand consistency. Schedule a demo today and see how we can help streamline your team’s creative process.

It can be intimidating for a team leader to introduce new software to their team. You may understand the benefits, but they may be hesitant to abandon legacy software with which they are intimately familiar. 

However, with the right training, you can create an effective learning environment that encourages software adoption and equips employees to confidently and efficiently use new software. 

In this article, we will discuss how to make introducing new software a successful experience for everyone involved. You will learn how to:

By following the tips and advice in this article, you’ll help your team get the most out of their new software while having some fun along the way. Let’s get started!

Why Is Training for New Software Important?

Without training, your team won’t engage enthusiastically with new software and platforms, nor will they be able to use the software to its full potential. Consequently, your business won’t see the expected return on investment, and the new software’s efficiency, productivity and cost benefits will be squandered. 

A well-designed training regime will help team members learn how to use the software to its full capabilities. Not only will they become intimately familiar with all the features and functions of the software, but they will be able to make better decisions about how they use it.

Training also results in happier team members. You can insist that your team use the software before they are sufficiently trained, but doing so can create a stressful work environment, reduce productivity, and even hurt employee retention. 

Furthermore, software training provides an opportunity for feedback from both sides; employers can identify areas where employees need help to improve their skills, while employees can ask questions and receive guidance from experienced trainers. 

Finally, investing in software training is cost-effective in the long run. It prevents expensive mistakes that could occur if team members don’t understand how to use a product properly. Well-trained employees, in contrast, will be able to make the most of their software, resulting in increased productivity and efficiency.

How Can You Motivate Employees to Use New Technology?

Training is one of the best ways to increase software adoption and overcome your team’s reluctance to adopt new technology. These 8 software training tips will help you give your team the knowledge they need to use new software confidently. 

1. Ensure that Your Team Understands the Benefits

It is essential to ensure that your team understands the benefits of the new software you are introducing. If they don’t understand what it can do for them, they may not invest the time and effort needed to become competent users.

Understanding the benefits of any new tool being introduced to a workflow helps employees stay motivated while undergoing the learning curve. Knowing how a new system will make their lives easier or help them do their jobs better can give people an extra incentive to learn something different.

When introducing new software, make sure you understand how it helps team members work more efficiently. Consider the advantages from each team member’s perspective and take the time to explain why the business made a particular software adoption decision. 

2. Incentivize Team Members to Learn

Incentivizing team members to learn new software can be an incredibly effective way to increase adoption. Explaining how the software is intrinsically beneficial is a great start. But many businesses go further by offering rewards for employees who complete software training. 

Rewards might include:

Additionally, try recognizing employees’ progress during the transition period by praising them publicly. Public acknowledgment motivates the rewarded individual while encouraging other team members to learn more.

3. Use the Developer’s Software Training Resources

Software developers often provide educational resources and training materials that you can use during training sessions. For example, Marq’s launch and training resources include a wide variety of courses, tutorials and training videos to help new users understand our brand template platform and how it works. 

4. Create Bespoke Training Resources

Although the software developer’s training resources should be your first port of call, creating bespoke training resources may also be helpful. Companies and teams have unique processes, and the new software may be only one component in a more extensive system. 

Creating custom training resources such as training brochures and guides allows you to train team members to use the software within your specific business context. 

5. Determine a Point of Contact for Questions and Feedback

We all know how frustrating it is to use software we don’t understand—especially when we have no clue who to ask for help. Having a designated point of contact—a manager or team member who has already been trained—ensures that queries or issues are handled quickly and effectively. 

If team members know who to reach out to, they are more likely to seek the support they need. This fosters a comfortable learning environment that is essential for successful software adoption.

6. Create Structured Learning Sessions

Independent learning is a valuable part of the software training process, but it can leave trainees feeling isolated and unsupported. Team leaders should create structured learning sessions to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

Structured learning leads to a more efficient adoption process, as team members can ask questions, help each other out and get up to speed quickly. These sessions also give team leaders an opportunity to showcase the value of the new software and explain how it can help the team better accomplish their tasks. Plus, they are an excellent forum for gathering feedback from employees.

7. Designate Dedicated Learning Time

Dedicated learning periods give team members time away from their day-to-day responsibilities to learn how to use the new software. Unless you set time aside, your team will likely be too busy to focus on software training, and will almost certainly prioritize work tasks over training sessions. 

Designated learning time might hit productivity in the short term, but you’ll gain it back through higher adoption rates, greater efficiency and increased skills. 

8. Move Content and Other Assets to the New Software

One of the best ways to encourage software adoption is to make sure that team members can access files, data, content, images, templates and other resources within the new software. If they have to keep switching back and forth between new and legacy software, they will likely give up and stick with what they know. If you want team members to use new software, make the experience as easy, convenient and pleasant as possible.Are you ready to transition your team to a powerful brand templating platform? Marq helps creative teams build consistent brand experiences at scale. To find out more, request a free demo with a brand template expert.

Content creators are expected to produce large volumes of high-quality, effective, and informative content. A typical content strategy might call for blog articles, white papers, case studies, ad copy, web copy, social media posts, videos, podcasts, and more—all of which have to align with the business’s marketing goals, brand identity, and values.

To achieve the quality, consistency, and creativity essential for marketing success, it’s not enough to have a team of talented creative individuals. Your team needs to work together as a coherent group. Each member must play their role and fulfill their responsibilities. But how can they if those roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined?

In this article, we explore creative team roles and responsibilities. You’ll learn:

We’ll talk about how to find the best roles for your team members based on their skills and strengths, give them the right responsibilities, track their progress over time, and make any changes that are needed along the way.

What Are Roles and Responsibilities?

A job responsibility is a duty or activity a particular employee is expected to carry out. For example, a copywriter’s responsibilities might include writing ad copy, which can be further broken down into the tasks that make that possible: understanding the client’s needs, crafting effective copy, proofreading, etc. 

Some of the roles on a typical content team might include:

On smaller content teams, these roles might be combined in the job description of a single individual. The content strategist might also take on the content editor role. The SEO specialist might also be responsible for analytics. 

On larger teams, one role might be shared between multiple employees. There may be a team of content writers who report to one or more content editors. 

Why Define Content Team Roles and Responsibilities?

Roles and responsibilities help content teams work more efficiently and produce better results. Without defined roles, team members are unclear about who is responsible for what. If your team is confused, they will waste time and lack accountability. 

Many creative people find a lack of structure frustrating, so you may experience higher employee turnover. That’s true even if individual team members are committed, productive employees. Even the most self-motivated creatives need a structure in order to work effectively. 

Role definition also keeps creative professionals focused on their objectives, helping them to make faster progress towards collective goals. They gain a sense of purpose from knowing each role has specific responsibilities that need to be completed to achieve the team’s objectives. 

Finally, setting up roles eliminates overlap or duplication of effort because it is clear who is responsible for different tasks. Outlining these expectations from the start facilitates collaboration and reduces miscommunication or misunderstanding that can hurt team productivity.

Defining Roles for Your Content Team

We’ve established why you should consider defining roles and responsibilities for your creative team. But what’s the best way to go about it? Every team and company is unique, so it’s not simply a matter of handing out roles from the list we suggested above. 

If you have a team already established, it’s more effective to figure out how it works and then make tweaks where necessary to improve efficiency, clarity, and productivity. When developing roles and responsibilities, keep in mind that you will ultimately assign them to team members, so consider each person’s preferences and strengths. 

Observe and Analyze Content Team Processes

It is essential to understand the dynamics of your content team before assigning roles and responsibilities. A thorough analysis of how each member contributes can provide insight into areas where there are gaps in productivity or efficiency. 

When observing your team’s creative processes, pay close attention to how ideas are generated, discussed amongst members, and implemented into projects. Review existing documents that serve as guidelines for both individual workflow and team collaboration, such as weekly calendars or longstanding management goals. 

Additionally, take note of what works well across all aspects of your teams’ workflows; it may be beneficial for certain roles to focus exclusively on providing support in those specific areas rather than having one person juggle many duties at once.

Understanding every member’s role allows them to have more control over their own workload while creating a sense of autonomy within the group dynamic, which ultimately leads to better results with less overall effort.

Create Roles Based on Your Team’s Needs

Examine the tasks that make up each step of the content creation process, from coming up with an idea to publishing and distributing it. List the activities associated with each task and consider how they can be combined into useful roles that reflect the real-world demands on your team. 

You don’t have to split roles along conventional lines if there is an overriding reason not to. For example, if you don’t want one person to handle everything related to a certain area, such as keyword research or copywriting, break it down into smaller responsibilities and create roles that allow for more granular delegation. 

When defining roles for your team, take into account both individual strengths as well as any existing gaps in skills or knowledge within the group. You may find that you need to create additional positions to fill all the roles—an indicator that someone on your team has too much on their plate.

Assign Responsibilities to Roles

It’s easy to get caught up in the process of role design and miss key responsibilities. Take another look at the activities, tasks, and outcomes for which your team is responsible. Doing so will help you find process gaps that hurt productivity and undermine the whole process. Delineate responsibilities and carefully consider which roles they belong to. 

Discuss Roles with Your Team

When developing these roles and responsibilities, discuss them with your entire team before assigning anything. In fact, your team should be involved from the start. They know what their day-to-day looks like, and you are unlikely to have a complete understanding of everything they do. 

Ask team members about their responsibilities, and when you have created a set of roles, ask them to pick holes in your plan. It’s better to find out you’ve missed something during the planning phase than several months down the line. 

On the other hand, don’t let team members dictate roles and responsibilities. Just as you do not have complete insight into their activities, they lack your view of the activities of the team as a whole. 

However, try to be open-minded; allow others to have their say since they might have creative ideas about how to best distribute resources or consolidate duties, which could ultimately lead to greater efficiency and productivity.

Assign Roles to Team Members

Assign roles to team members or hire new employees to fill roles the existing team can’t accommodate. For long-established teams, this can be a disruptive process—team members may not like new responsibilities, and they may resent having responsibilities removed. 

In the long run, though, rationalizing roles and responsibilities should result in a happier and more productive team. Everyone will be aware of their responsibilities, and every responsibility will be assigned to a role. 

Monitor Team Performance and Iterate

You’re unlikely to get everything right at first. There’s no substitute for real-world testing, and you may find that you have missed responsibilities or that workflows don’t function as you had envisioned. Perhaps the allocation of roles to team members doesn’t prove as successful as you might have hoped.

In the months following the reorganization, monitor team productivity and the quality of their output. Talk to team members to get their feedback. Be prepared to adjust roles and responsibilities as new information comes in. 

Marq Helps Creative Teams Manage Roles and Responsibilities

Marq’s brand templating platform empowers creative teams to automate content production workflows and produce consistent branded content. We recognize the importance of roles and responsibilities for creative teams, so the Marq platform offers powerful creative team management features. Administrators can create user and group structures that reflect their organization and share assets, projects, templates, and folders with granular permissions. To find out more, request a free demo with a brand templating expert.

Collaboration is key for marketers and creative professionals. Whether it’s your internal team, contractors, or outside influencers you’re engaging with, a shared understanding of your brand ensures that everyone is on the same page. That’s why creating comprehensive branding guidelines with a clear brand style guide is so important for effective collaboration.

Brand guidelines are documents that define how your company should communicate with customers and partners. They hold significant value because they give members of your team—whether permanent employees or freelancers—a clear framework for designing content that reflects your brand values and aesthetic.

In this article, we’ll explore how brand guidelines enhance collaboration and productivity, and give you tips for creating successful guidelines. You’ll learn:

What Is a Brand Guideline?

A brand guideline is a set of standards and rules used to maintain consistency across all elements of a company’s branding. It specifies the usage of colors, fonts, logo design, tone, voice, imagery styles, and other creative aspects that are associated with a brand. Having these guidelines in place ensures that the company maintains an image that is cohesive and recognizable within its industry. 

A brand style guide act as a framework for creativity by providing boundaries for how the company should be represented. This allows teams to work within those parameters while still being able to express their own ideas effectively. Having clearly defined rules makes it easier for creative team members to understand what they can and can’t do when creating marketing materials. 

Having well-defined brand style guide is essential for any organization looking to make an impact in today’s competitive market. It helps standardize messaging, visuals, and design, allowing creatives to express company values in a meaningful way without compromising consistency or clarity.

How Brand Guidelines Support Collaboration

When it comes to fostering collaboration, brand guidelines can be an invaluable aid in setting the creative parameters essential for cooperative and efficient teamwork.

Achieve Brand Consistency with a Diverse Creative Team

Guidelines provide clear language, rules, and imagery that all team members can easily reference when creating visuals and content. With everyone working in harmony, your brand benefits from greater efficiencies in communication and quicker production times on projects requiring input from multiple parties.

Quickly Onboard New Marketing Creative Hires

Comprehensive rules in your brand style guide ensure that new hires immediately understand what is expected of them. When developing brand-related campaigns or artwork, they can look to established style choices and techniques for guidance. Brand guidelines help experienced creatives hit the ground running, empowering team leaders to quickly and confidently scale their teams to meet workload demands.

Communicate Your Brand’s Unique Style to Freelancers

Clear guidelines foster clear communication between internal teams and external freelance creatives. They eliminate guesswork and provide creative freedom within the scope of what defines the company’s look and feel. Not only does that mean everyone involved with creating materials is aligned, but it also helps build trust between freelancers, internal teams, and clients. 

Make Sure Your Team Isn’t Reinventing the Wheel

This guidance is meant to provide a framework on which creative teams can base their work. In doing so, they don’t have to start from scratch every time they launch a new project or campaign because the foundations are already in place. Instead of recreating established rules, brand guidelines allow your team to devote more time to creating unique content. 

Set Boundaries for Influencer Marketing and Brand Collaboration

Modern marketing teams collaborate with organizations and individuals outside of the traditional employee or contractor relationship, including independent creators, influencers, affiliates, and other brand partners. These partnerships can help you achieve your branding and marketing objectives, but they need clear boundaries to guard against harmful misuse of brand assets and messaging. Brand guidelines communicate your brand’s requirements and boundaries, setting expectations that shape relationships with external collaborators. 

The Digital Marketing Institute outlines an essential guide to influencer marketing that can help provide even more context. Identifying the types of influencers, you would work with, if any, can help clarify marketing activities moving forward.

Types_of_influencers-1.png
Digital Marketing Institutes Types of Influencers Guide

Building Brand Guidelines for Effective Collaboration

We’ve talked about why you should use a brand guide to cultivate collaboration, but not all are created equal. Poor-quality guidelines confuse, undermine, and mislead creative professionals. Plus, bad guidelines almost always result in expensive rework. 

To learn more about what goes into creating effective brand guidelines, check out 12 examples of great brand guidelines and how to create a corporate identity design. To conclude this article, we’ll look at three tips to help you create brand guidelines that maximize your team’s productive potential. 

Create Comprehensive Guidelines

If creative team members can’t find the information they need, they may not be able to proceed. Or they’ll devise a solution that may not conform to the brand’s identity, values, and standards. Either way, productivity takes a hit. 

Creatives should ideally be able to refer to a brand’s guidelines whenever they have a question about brand values, visual styles, colors, logo use, and so on. Try to anticipate and include information to answer any questions that designers and marketers may have.

Keep Brand Guidelines Up to Date

It is essential to ensure that your brand style guide is up to date. Outdated guidelines can lead to a loss of unity and coherence among the many elements of a brand’s identity, from design language and visuals to messaging. Without an effective set of current brand guidelines in place, it can be difficult for teams to stay on message and create content with consistency across multiple channels.

Take Advantage of Brand Templates and Creative Automation Tools

Although brand guidelines are useful documents for creative teams and marketers, they do have limitations:

Brand templates are significantly more powerful. With Marq’s brand templates, you can upload brand assets, including typography, color schemes, images, and logos, embedding brand standards into the content creation process. You can then design and create marketing assets from pre-made or custom templates. 

Even better, brand templates allow you to automate content creation and include custom data in your content, whether it’s a sales proposal, spec sheet, presentation, brochure, e-book, flier, poster, or any other branded publication. 

To learn more about how Marq brand templates can help your creative team collaborate on consistently branded marketing and sales content, schedule a 1:1 with our team.

A brand is a funny thing. It’s not something you can hold in your hand, yet a brand is the bread and butter of an organization. Without a stable, consistent brand, your company growth will be severely stunted. Not so sure? Well, we’ve gathered some facts and statistics for you to check out. Prepare to be convinced.

Let’s start by building a foundation—what is a brand, how does it relate to your consumer, and why you simply cannot ignore building a strong brand.

Brand basics

A brand is a personality that identifies a product, service or company, including a name, term, sign, symbol or design. A brand also represents the relationships between customers, staff, partners, investors, and so forth.

Boundless

A brand does not exist within a company or organization. A brand exists in the minds of your customers. A brand is the sum total of impressions a customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company, and your products.

Lucidpress

Inconsistent branding doesn’t just impact your customers — it hurts employee morale too.

Lucidpress

Build brand loyalty on shared values with your consumers. It is not the number of interactions a buyer has with your brand, but the quality and relatability of the interaction.

Harvard Business Review

Successful branding yields benefits such as increased customer loyalty, an improved image, and a relatable identity.

TSL Marketing

45% of customers expect great design across marketing and sales collateral.

Lucidpress

The main benefit of branding tools, and reason to employ them, is to boost profits.

Forbes

The greatest negative impact of inconsistent brand usage is the creation of confusion in the market.

Lucidpress

Surprised yet? If not, just wait until you see what’s going on for B2B brands. In a B2B market, branding is especially crucial. If you are in the B2B realm, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

B2B branding statistics

B2B brands fare better with customers when they use emotive rather than rational marketing messages. 

MarketingWeek

B2B marketers have consistently cited brand awareness as their top goal over the last five years.

CMI and MarketingProfs

89% of B2B marketers say brand awareness is the most important goal, followed by sales and lead generation.

Content Marketing Institution

The rise in content generation is inextricably linked to the shift in customer expectations.

Lucidpress

Building an audience is more valuable than direct sales for over 70% of brand managers.

OnBrand

B2B companies with brands that are perceived as strong generate a higher EBIT margin than others.

Forbes

77% of B2B marketing leaders say branding is critical to growth.

Adience

75% of B2B buyers want branded content that helps them research business ideas, but 93% of brands focus their content on marketing their own products and services.

MarketingCharts

91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to promote brand awareness.

Content Marketing Institute

69% of companies report that brand guidelines aren’t widely adopted or don’t exist at all.

Lucidpress

Surprising, right? Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand, a small or large business, an emerging competitor or a long-standing organization, you must maintain your audience. Here are a few stats that show how to keep their attention.

Maintaining your audience statistics

On average, 5 to 7 brand impressions are necessary before someone will remember your brand.

Pam Moore

70% of survey constituents reported that consistent branding is crucial when communicating with existing customers.

Lucidpress

Brands that are consistently presented are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience brand visibility.

Lucidpress

The average revenue increase attributed to personalized content is 48%.

Lucidpress

Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.

University of Loyola

64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand.

Harvard Business Review

50% of people follow 1 to 4 brands on social media, 26% follow 5 to 9 brands, 22% follow 10 or more brands, and 3% follow no brands.

BuzzStream

52% of consumers expect brands to know when the right moments are to communicate.

Cube

89% of business readers say that the brand a piece of content comes from is important, and 85% of marketers say the primary reason for creating content is to build the brand and positive perceptions of the company.

The Economist Group

72% of marketers think branded content is more effective than advertising in a magazine; 62% say it is more effective than advertising on TV; 69% say it is superior to both direct mail and public relations.

The Content Council

45% of consumers will unfollow a brand on social media if their platform is dominated by self-promotion.

BuzzStream

48% of consumers expect brands to know them and help them discover new products or services that fit their needs.

Cube

Mind-blowing? We hope so. Now you’ve got a few more reasons to boost your brand and start thinking seriously about brand asset management. With your newfound knowledge, you’re prepared to wow your customers more than ever. Good luck!

As a Creative Director, you need designers to fly by the seat of their pants, take life by the horns and do whatever they need to do to get stuff done. Or, in other words, you need them to indulge their creativity, take abstract ideas and craft them into something relatable, tangible and personable — relative to a brand, of course.

But here’s the thing. 

All too often, designers and other creatives wind up with an acute case of what you might call Lone-Wolf-Tunnel-Vision-No-Don’t-Touch-My-Precious. Or non-creative folks attempt to create collateral, resulting in some seriously rogue content and off-brand hullabaloo. You’ve seen it before. And maybe you’ve experienced it yourself, too. Folks get so wrapped up in a project that it becomes difficult to remove themselves, both personally and professionally, from the execution, critique and more. 

And while either approach to design can be effective in some circumstances, it works only up till a certain point, when it can hinder your brand image.

Alternatively, steering creatives toward collaboration in design, especially when the project calls for it, can have a positive impact in a myriad of ways. 

What is design collaboration?

Simply put: design collaboration involves the collaboration between colleagues — design, dev, content and etc., — in order to bring an idea to life. 

As the name suggests, design collaboration is an immersive, collaborative experience. It relies on an innate variety of thinking, experience and more that multiple key stakeholders contribute when they, so to speak, put their heads together to problem solve and create powerful customer experiences. Ultimately, design collaboration entails a unique process in which creative teams transform an idea or a concept into a fully-fleshed out campaign or finished product. And in turn, you build a stronger team and empower them to work faster — together.

Why is design collaboration important?

Collaboration in design offers your team two critical benefits:

  1. Your brand stands to gain the benefit of collaboration between creatives.
  2. Your brand stands to gain the benefit of cross-functional team collaboration.

As far as creatives are concerned, collaboration in design helps empower creatives to take their blinders off and work together (as a team) to create powerful, magnetic content experiences. 

As for cross-functional teams are concerned, collaboration in design allows individual contributors and teams at-large to work faster, work stronger and work together more effectively. Keep in mind, the key to a successful collaboration design process lay within managing the project itself. 

How to create a culture of collaboration

Creating a successful collaboration design culture is kind of like following a recipe. There are certain ingredients, so to speak, that you need in order to foster and nurture collaboration across individuals and departments. 

So, what do you need? 

The six C’s!

Common ground — Think of this as a team’s (cross-functional or not) shared values. What unites you as a group of collaborators? 

HOT TIP: Remind everyone to keep an open mind when it comes to perhaps overzealous ideas. Sometimes the most impactful experiences aren’t the most straightforward. And part of the collaborative process entails leaning into a problem-solving mentality.

Context — Think of this as your goals. Why are you all here? What are you doing?

HOT TIP: Creative briefs are excellent contextual pieces of evidence. A creative brief doesn’t have to be super heavy-handed or in-depth, but it needs to offer the guidance, context and identification of key stakeholders for the project at hand.

Clarity — Think of this as the “how” you’ll get this project done. Clarity is critical when working in a group of multifaceted people. 

HOT TIP: You need to consider project management processes, tools, roles, deadlines and so forth. The more clear you can get about who-owns-what and when-something-is-due, the stronger your project is likely to be. 

Critique — This is probably pretty self-evident. Successful collaboration requires critique and feedback. Do not shy away from it. 

HOT TIP: Facilitate peer-to-peer feedback sessions. It’s easy for anyone and everyone to get tunnel-vision when working on a project. Or, alternatively, create a big group brainstorm that encourages everyone to feel “bought-in” to an idea or concept, that way each person feels as though they contributed to the brainstorming process. 

Communication — You and all of those on the collaboration team need to have a universal language regarding the project specifics. Even if a sales agent doesn’t quite understand the ins and outs of a UX designer’s job, doesn’t mean you can’t establish a common ground of communication. 

HOT TIP: Encourage cross-functional collaboration and communication on a regular basis. Weekly or biweekly meetings are a great way to achieve this. 

Connectivity — Think of this as the “what” that connects you back to your customers. What do you know to be true, or rather, what assumptions are you making about this project and consequential experience or initiative.

HOT TIP: Create a customer roadmap of feedback or reviews. Get an inside look as to what you know is true, and perhaps where you’re being steered wrong.

Top 4 tools that foster collaboration

Collaboration design projects usually have quite a few moving parts — along with quite a few people involved. So, to keep you on track, we typically recommend using a few tools that promote and foster collaboration, and keep you organized and on-task.

You have arrived at Collaboration Design Station

It’s worth noting that not all projects require collaboration design. Some projects are better suited as partnership endeavors, whereas others, like a high-visibility ad campaign, should probably be created using a collaborative design process.

Marketing and brand leaders everywhere obsess over the question: how can I most effectively manage my brand? Yet, most brand management solutions fail to provide business leaders with the answer to that question.

Why? Because they don’t utilize the most precious resource, a company has to offer: its people. 

In this article, we’ll walk through how brand templating can help you more effectively manage your brand by enabling everyone in your business to build on-brand content.

Read on to learn:

  1. What is brand templating, and why should you do it
  2. How to build your brand template library
  3. The dos and don’ts of brand templating
  4. How to implement brand templating at your organization

In today’s world, effectively managing a brand means building brand equity that drives results


But it’s complicated.

The market is more crowded than ever, so your potential customers are bombarded daily with near-constant brand interactions. 

With increasingly accessible consumer data, personalization has become the norm, and the brands that can’t personalize, quickly fall behind. 

And resources are scarce, so keeping up with the volume of content needed to win in today’s marketplace feels near impossible when you can’t get approval to hire another designer.

How do you stand out when every company is a content creation company?

Are you content with your content? 

The truth is that most organizations aren’t. Many marketing leaders say they believe personalized content could substantially increase their revenue, yet only 32% can do it. When put into practice, brand standards can be difficult to implement across organizations. 

The more brutal truth is that your brand strategy is less effective if your organization cannot implement your brand effectively. In this article, you will learn how to carve out more time for content personalization and strategic projects sans unlimited resources and time travel. 

While content operations vary by organization and industry, the numerous hurdles in the content creation and execution process seem to be universal:

Higher demand for content without a clear path to meet it contributes to a chaotic content operations process.

Brand Templating

How can you make content creation easier?

Brand accessibility and usability are characteristics of a mature brand strategy; they also empower teams to deliver on marketing initiatives easily. When creative teams develop a brand standard to implement cross-functionally, the organization can deliver on goals faster and more effectively. 

If you’ve made it this far, you likely want to know how to do it. So, pour yourself a fresh cup and settle in. 

Let’s start with the basics. 

What is brand templating?

Understanding the HOW in meeting content demand  

Brand templating is the modern approach to brand management that saves your team time by empowering everyone in the company with the tools they need to build on-brand. 

By converting frequently used assets (fliers, postcard mailers, social posts, etc.)  into a format your team can customize, content is delivered faster and more effectively. When you enable others to build content themselves, your organization is better positioned to deliver on strategic growth initiatives that move the needle forward. 

Brand templating isn’t just for efficiency.

Imagine what your team can accomplish when you:

Think about it this way.

78% of consumers prefer getting to know a company through their content

McMurray/TMG

This begs the question, is your content effective? If tailoring your content for your specific audience would drive more revenue, then the incentive to change how you approach content creation should be a priority. Brand templating is one of the critical tools you can use to build more relevant content. 

Take a moment to reflect on your current brand management strategy. Does it look and feel a little bit like this?

content operations chaos

Rest assured, you are not alone. This state of content chaos isn’t indicative of failure either. It is, in fact, a prevalent problem. Due to the lack of modern tools, a clear path to weed through the bottleneck of requests isn’t easy, especially with the added pressure to meet content demand. 

Making sense of the content chaos

Rather than submitting a creative request and then waiting for your designers to execute based on their list of priority projects, content requests can be built by the requester themselves. With access to a branded design built with their end-use in mind, they can take the time to personalize the messaging based on their objective. 

Whether organizations have a design team of one or twenty, we’ve seen brand templating work as a mechanism to streamline the content creation process and ensure a more impactful experience for the end customer. 

Personalization in content takes thoughtful consideration, and often, this step in content production is rushed or skipped in the interest of meeting content demand. We’ve heard the commonly used phrase, “something is better than nothing,” however, when you settle for this approach as it relates to your content, you are leaving money on the table for your business. 

95% of buying decisions are directly influenced by content

CEB Global

When put into practice, brand templating means that Sally in Sales can customize a mailer to send to prospects she hopes to see at the next event she attends. 

Alex, an all-star real estate agent, can now produce the marketing materials for their new listing without waiting for their brokerages’ marketing team to get back to them with the latest agency logo. 

Teams can customize more generic audience messaging and tailor it more specifically to their chosen audience, while templates ensure the content they produce stays on brand.

If a more effective approach gives your creative team back the time they need to be more strategic, directly impacting your buyers’ decisions, the takeaway is to leave no stone unturned to optimize your content. 

Brand templating is one of the primary ways to implement a smoother content operations process rooted in strategy.

How to create a  brand template library 

What templates are must-haves, and how do you determine what should be templatized?

You likely have a few templates kicking around your shared drive, but have you equipped your team with the right ones, and could you expand your library? Templates can and should extend beyond the classic Keynote/Powerpoint presentation. Delivering and iterating quickly on content indicates an effective brand management strategy.

Evaluate your brand assets and consider how templates could better enable your teams; you’ll likely find that your team has a better opportunity to personalize your content resulting in a more effective message. 

The concept of templatizing brand assets to execute content operations and strengthen brand management systems sometimes feels too big for organizations large and small to take on. To combat the general “overwhelm” in putting brand templating into practice, use the structure below to determine which assets you should include in your template library.

What brand templates should you build for your business?

A few must-haves for your brand template library may help you think more about your organization’s needs. As simple as they seem, they will save your designers tons of time. 

brand templates checklist

In addition to the base-level brand template checklist, you can assess what your organization needs in its template library by doing the following:

how to build your template library

Because the end goal is to get brand teams to spend more time on strategic projects and less time on repeated design requests, ask yourself this critical question during the assessment:

Do these requests require creative strategy, or are they simple changes? 

Here are a few examples of what we’d consider ‘simple’ changes:

While the templates your team utilizes may vary, the idea is to make it simpler for them to execute their requests. It can sound scary, but when customization happens within a specific set of parameters, it gives your brand team peace of mind while freeing up mental capacity for meaningful creative work.

Marq’s Creative Director, John Perry, noted that layout swaps would be a simple enough change for non-designers to execute. 

“Newsletters and emails, for example, can be restructured by moving sections up and down in the template. It doesn’t require a designer’s touch, and content/email marketers can make these adjustments if they have a template to work from with customization parameters defined.”

You should equip your asset library with templates based on your findings and be sure to include a couple of options. With design variations of the same template, you are giving the power of choice to the creator and an opportunity for them to exercise creativity in how they customize their project.

Components of an effective brand template

What makes a template a template?  


You are likely asking yourself how to outline a brand template with the rules you want your end user to follow. Much of the hesitation about enabling teams to create their own content is the uncertainty that they won’t follow brand guidelines or will take things a bit too far. 

When creating a brand template, you want to be mindful of the components of a brand template to ensure that it is usable by your team once distributed. This means that the guidelines need to be clear. You decide the parameters for users to design within and you will find more success in brand templating if there isn’t wiggle room for questions. 

brand-templates-made-for-end-users

Differences in the degrees of customization of your templates will always be based on the end user. These may vary by department/team and type of collateral, so the standards will likely change when you think put the users’ needs first.

For example, your marketing team may be given more design flexibility when they customize content for a specific campaign. But, you likely do not want that same level of flexibility given to someone in Sales or Finance. 

Perhaps you have compliance-related standards that must be implemented; those types of elements need to be outlined so they are not changed and the user knows they are required. 

Typical components of a brand template include:

1. Logo / Mark / Branding

Brand consistency is paramount to the success of your content. The ages-old marketing “Rule of 7” is a bit dated considering the abundance of content that an individual consumes, but if you expect your audience to recognize your brand, it better be consistent every single time

The consistency in brand builds awareness and creates trust. So, it can be concluded that the saturation of content across all channels requires a level of consistency in order for the audience to not only see your content but know it is coming from the same source.  

Whether potential customers need to see your content seven or seventy times, a consistent brand image is critical.

2. Defined areas for personalization 

We’ve referenced ‘personalization’ a few times now and we recognize this can have different meanings depending on the use case,  industries your organization plays in, and whether you offer B2B or B2C solutions. We’ve also already talked about how valuable personalization is in driving revenue. But, we haven’t covered examples of when personalization is done to demonstrate content effectiveness.

When personalization is most effective:

One-sheets are a classic example of when you can change copy so messaging and terms within the document resonate with your target audience. Rather than speaking generically about your product solution, you can incorporate the exact use case for the industry. You can include language specifically for decision-makers. 

The template solution for these allows product marketers to evolve their strategy on this particular piece of content on an ongoing basis. Perhaps a team from sales just got back from an industry-specific event, and their insight influences change on the document you’ve been using. 

Rather than send that request to the design team to change, it can be executed immediately. These copy adjustments do not impact the overall design and your content is now updated strategically for your audience. NICE WORK!

If you are in real estate, brand templates allow marketing materials to represent the agents’ brand and your brokerages’ brand, with brand assets ready to go for agent customization. Agents can plug in their brand and their listing information, and rather than spinning wheels on either creating the content themselves (yikes!) or waiting for marketing to get them what they need, they are off to the races! Quite frankly, a necessity in this ever-so-competitive market. 

Universities can ensure that across campus, colleges, departments, groups, and events maintain the same branding, with room for personalization for their specific audience

content-personalization-parameters-brand-template

3. Supplemental required copy/design elements (Ex. Legal copy, specific taglines, etc.)

For certain pieces of content, you may have multiple areas for customization, each of which could have a different purpose. There can be a primary copy area for personalization and additional places in the document’s footer that also need to be touched. 

Examples include legal copy, specific taglines, or contact information. These areas will likely also require strict guidelines regarding font type and size so they work with the overall design. You can incorporate a standardized version of this into the template, but if that is not possible, you will want to clearly define these components within your template. 

We often hear from financial services and banking that legal language is included in their content, but it can vary from mortgage lending to retirement services. These are considerations that are important to take into account. 

While we covered a template’s “copy only” personalization component, some exceptions are worth mentioning as you are thinking through how to build the most effective brand template library. 

For some organizations, specific business areas use different logos or graphics. Ideally, you create a template for every use case, but in some cases, you may need to allow the user to input that element. If that is the case, outlining where variation will live on the template, defining the appropriate size, and outlining the clear space requirements are critical.

We already talked about brand consistency in content; when we consider the larger brand guidelines and think about how they come through when implemented, it can sometimes challenge the guidelines. Those unique scenarios when a designer is faced with a new piece of content and has to think through how the brand will come through are why we stress the importance of building your brand template library with intention. 

The best part? You can always change and add to your brand templates as new uses come up. This brings us to our next tip.

incorporate-feedback-brand-templates-for-brand-management

Ask the template users if what you have provided works for their needs. Perhaps new requests arise, and you decide as a team that a template would be helpful. That’s great! This is an ever-growing library that should support your organization’s growth goals. 

That said, just like your closet, you should also run template audits to ensure the best templates are available and out-of-date templates get removed. You should never expect the end-user to know which templates are the most current, so managing that brand template library will keep everyone on track and building with the most current designs. 

When brand templates aren’t the solution

The answer is not simple.

Now, this can get a little fuzzy, and first and foremost, this should be an ongoing discussion within your organization. Not every piece of collateral requires a template.

Here is why: 

Brand templates give your team time for strategic work, but it’s important to know which projects should not rely on a template and which ones deserve additional resources. It is a balancing act because, in many ways, isn’t every project important? 

Yes, it is. But, when put up against your brand strategy and growth initiatives, it would not be possible to put all of your resources towards every piece of content. That is how we got into the content chaos, to begin with, is it not?


Consider this…

If your team is given beautifully branded templates, is your content, after personalization, likely to be fairly successful? 

And, how successful would it need to be in order for you to decide that your team is down the right path?

We have debated and pondered the idea of creative KPI’s and quite frankly, there are endless variables that can be used as markers of success. That said, every piece of content will have different success measures, whether those be related to clicks, conversion, referrals, or demos. 

And so, we ask, how do we know that we are using our resources on the right things, and is the content that is produced via template serving the intent?

The simple approach is to think through projects and elevate opportunities where you can be more strategic to ensure a more successful outcome. As you consider design requests, always look for opportunities to level up your creative execution. Sometimes this means using a template; other times, it will require a more thoughtful implementation to ensure it delivers on the objectives of the project. 

collaborate-to-streamline-brand-management

Just because your team has been given templates, doesn’t mean they don’t talk to your marketing and design teams about what they create. The difference is that now, not every project will require the time it takes to build ‘new’ creative. 

This means, you can involve various members of your team to provide input, and the time can be spent on strategic messaging and positioning. Even better, marketing and design teams can focus on exercising their creative muscles to build new and exciting assets for your organization to leverage. 

Each stakeholder is now working in tandem and in a better position in regard to time and energy, to ensure the content that you are creating is relevant and impactful.

Brand Templating tools and solutions 

Support your template-based brand management

We just covered why brand templating can be a game changer for your business and we talked about building the right templates for the teams that need them. What we have yet to cover is how to share this library of valuable brand templates with your teams so they can use them. 

There are a few solutions for effectively building and sharing your brand templates, ranging from a full-service brand-templating solution like Marq to more manual procedures. We run through the pros and cons of these various solutions together.

Ultimately, you will want to look for solutions that will provide your team with the ability to make edits to the templates. If the solution you have chosen does not have the ability to lockdown specific elements, you will need to indicate which areas of the template are theirs to customize and operate with a certain level of trust. It can be done but requires clearer guidelines for users. Your content operations workflow may already include a process for edits and approvals; if so, you will want to implement a similar one for templates so the right eyes are on the finished product before you print, publish, and distribute.  

Below are options to consider if you are looking for a system or tool that will work with your brand templates:

solutions-for-brand-templating

You may notice that file formats differ across various solutions and those tie directly back to edit capabilities. Unfortunately, determining the right file format for your branded templates that will allow for customization is often the hang-up on implementing brand templates. 

Keynotes and powerpoints are so often relied upon by organizations and while they may start as a well-intentioned template, it is not possible to lock areas of the template. How many times have you seen a keynote presentation go south? The answer is too many. Keynotes and powerpoints have a high level of risk of off-branded or unpolished content making its way into the wild. We don’t like it and you probably don’t like it either. 

Now, if you go with a fully lockable solution like a PDF, then the templates become unusable. Yes, there are ways to edit a PDF, but it doesn’t have the flexibility that you need in order for those templates to be truly effective. PDFs will limit the ability for customization significantly.

If you share design files then the expectation is that everyone is a designer. That isn’t feasible or advisable. Let designers be designers. Let everyone else execute on their specific talents. Your organization will be stronger when everyone is operating within their unique strengths.

The truth is of it is that there simply wasn’t a solution that solved all of the content operations challenges. In order to be strategic with your content, it has to be easier! 

Meet Marq: The Brand-Templating Platform


Press play on some dreamy background music and let’s dive into Marq. 

In a few words, Marq is the brand-templating platform that enables you to deliver relevant content to your audience, faster by empowering everyone in your organization to build on-brand content. 

Marq takes all of the half solutions from above and combines them into one power-packed platform that does it all. Marq is made for designers to enable non-designers, so the two groups can work synergistically. We realize the word synergy is overused these days, but in this case, we mean it

How does Marq work?


With Marq, you can import your brand identity and assets, which allows you to build templates and customize them in-platform. You can also convert existing assets, like your InDesign files, to brand templates and connect custom data to automate content creation. 

We mentioned the issue with fully editable templates earlier and discussed why locked-down file formats make templates unusable. Marq keeps things in a happy middle ground so brand templates truly change the content game. 

The built-in editor allows administrative-level users to implement varying degrees of locking depending on the template component. Logos for example can be fully locked so they can’t be stretched or moved to another location in the template. Areas for copy can have font and sizing parameters so users can’t enlarge text or change the look of the design. With template-locking enabled, the fear of letting anyone and everyone within your organization build content is a non-issue. You can allow teams to build the content they need with confidence and truly feel that your brand is always the star. 

Do I need to store my brand templates somewhere and bring them into Marq each time?


No chance. Marq also stores your brand templates and you can share specific templates with certain teams so they can easily find the templates that apply to their job role and function

The question of where you put all of these branded assets and the burden of thinking through an organizational system and structure that makes assets easy to find is in the hands of Marq. Users can log in, quickly find what they need, apply relevant customization within brand guidelines, and distribute content across channels. 

happy-teams-with-brand-templates

Outcomes of brand-templating platform bliss


Now, it would be unfair to say that brand templating can’t work for your organization without Marq. We just know, through talking with customers, how much easier it is when our platform is doing the work for them. 

When brand templating is integrated into how you do business, you can take your content game even further. Content at scale is a standard Tuesday. You can implement automation so content creation is even more efficient. Your design teams suddenly don’t feel overwhelmed by production design work and their creative energy is flowing! Creative burnout? Never heard of it. 

teams-work-faster-with-brand-templates

All of these positive outcomes are a result of a more strategic approach to managing your brand. Maturing your brand strategy through the use of brand templating has given your brand the ability to deliver more impactful content to your audience. Your organization can now easily manage content operations and your output has elevated your brand. 

Here is the best part. 

Your business wins. 

Now that’s magic! Want to learn more about brand templating or how Marq can help your business? Let’s talk. 

Schedule a demo here or email us at sales@marq.com

content-so-good-with-marq-the-brand-templating-platform

If you Google “brand definition” you’ll find forty-three different attempts on just the first page of search results alone. There are so many competing misconceptions about what a brand is that it might be simpler to say what a brand is not: A brand is not a logo. A brand is not a name. A brand is not a trademark, symbol or jingle. Yes, these things affect the brand, but a brand encompasses all of this and more.

What is branding?

To begin to understand what a brand is, you must first understand that your brand does not exist in your marketing department, your public relations team, or your CEO’s office. A brand exists only in the minds of your customers. Simply put, a brand is the sum total of all the impressions a customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company and your products. Each one of these interactions tells a story to your customers. If your customer believes that a product is new and innovative, then those attributes become part of your brand in that customer’s mind. If your packaging is beautifully illustrated, then they may view your brand as sophisticated or elite. On the other hand, if your service is poor, customers might think you’re stubborn or rude. If your print materials are designed in MS Paint, you may look cheap and amateur.

Every interaction sends a message

What is a brand?

Imagine all of these interactions as arrows, and each one points to a message. For example, your product (a big interaction) might point to the message that your company is innovative. Another arrow—your beautifully illustrated print advertisements—might point to the message that you’re sophisticated and elite. But what if an arrow—customer service—is rude and hard to contact? What if your CEO makes an off-color joke that’s caught on a news camera? Every one of these things are interactions you have with your customers, and every one of them is going to affect how they view your company.

All of these examples of interaction “arrows” point to different messages, sending a muddy overall brand message where the customer doesn’t know if you’re likable or not—whether they want to continue buying your products or go visit your competitor.

To manage your brand, you want to decide on a brand message then make sure that all of the interactions with your company—these arrows—are aimed at your brand message.

Disney branding

Think, for example, of Disney. Several years ago, Disney decided that their brand was “Magical Family Fun.” They now try to point all of their interaction arrows at their target brand, at every level of the company. Yes, there are the obvious examples, like their movies, and theme parks where actors at Disneyland (called “cast members”) dress up as Cinderella, Jack Sparrow and Mickey Mouse. But their brand influences the Disney Stores across the country: every morning, when the stores open, cast members select children to ceremonially unlock the stores with a special keepsake key. Even when providing customer service, the cast members integrate the Magical Family Fun brand message—aside from always sounding happy and eager to talk with you, they’ll spend extra time on the phone reminiscing about past experiences in the park, always happy to listen to customers’ stories or share their own memories. Everything they do, every one of their arrows, is aimed at Magical Family Fun.

Walmart is another interesting example, because their brand message became their slogan: “Save Money. Live Better.” Yes, they bargain hard to make sure that they have the lowest prices, but they also initiated the now-widespread $4 prescription plan, selling prescriptions for a much lower margin—or, often, no profit at all. They do everything they can to make their customers’ dollars stretch as far as possible. The company’s charitable giving is now more than a billion dollars per year.

Whatever brand message you choose, make sure that your customers’ impressions—your arrows—all point in the right direction. Remember the old marketing adage: “A bad advertisement is worse than no ad at all.” By being a brand ambassador—by sending consistent, targeted messages—your customers will understand exactly who you are and what you can do for them.

Why is branding important?

Pepsi challenge

In 1975, marketers at PepsiCo started a campaign that would become a legend in the world of advertising, and would fire the first shot in the Cola Wars. The experiment was simple and effective: booths appeared in malls and supermarkets, sports arenas and state fairs; participants drank two sips of cola from unmarked cups and were asked which beverage they liked better. Overwhelmingly, the choice was clear: consumers favored Pepsi. In almost every venue, in almost every demographic, Pepsi was the winner.

But there arose the paradox: Coca-Cola was destroying Pepsi in market share. Even now, forty years later, Coke controls the largest piece of the carbonated beverage market share—seventeen percent. Diet Coke comes in second place at nine percent. And Pepsi—the clear taste favorite—languishes in third place at eight percent.

Now, there have been some attempts to explain the disparity. In his 2005 book BlinkMalcolm Gladwell suggested that the reason is due to the small amounts: that, when only drinking a sip, people prefer a sweeter drink—which Pepsi is. But studies haven’t always proven that to be true, nor has it been studied nearly as much as competing taste tests.

So what explains it? Well, a research professor at the Baylor College of Medicine decided to really put the claims to the test—to figure out, physiologically, why consumers made that choice.

He put test subjects into an fMRI, a machine that tests brain activity by watching the flow of blood from one region to another. In the first phase of the test, he had subjects drink cola while their brains were being scanned. Once again, Pepsi was chosen as the favorite. It was the ventral putamen that lit up on the scan—part of the brain that makes up the reward system. In essence, the brain was saying “I like this. It makes me happy.”

But in the next phase of the experiment, researchers altered a key component of the test: this time, they told participants what they were drinking. It changed everything. No longer was the reward system lighting up: instead, it was the cerebral cortex, the higher-level decision-making part of the brain. When people drank, their brain wasn’t evaluating flavor; it was evaluating memories and experience. And when this higher-level cognitive part of the brain was working, Coke soundly beat out Pepsi.

This, according to the researchers, was the effect of branding. When a consumer has previous impressions of a product or company, it will actually change the way their brain evaluates such straightforward decisions as “which tastes better?” Coke has a long history of standout marketing efforts. Collectors buy up old ads and bottles dating all the way back to the 1880s. People buy clothes depicting the famous Coca-Cola logo. There is even a Coke museum in Atlanta, where tourists pay $16 for the chance to view exhibits about how great Coke is. And when they look to make their purchase decisions in-store, all of that material makes for a powerful brand.

This is the strength of a good brand management strategy. Granted, Coke has more than a century behind them, and the love of the brand has been passed down from generation to generation. But while becoming the next Coke is daunting (at best), this does serve as a good aspirational lesson on why branding matters.

Key takeaways

Want to know more about the impact of brand consistency? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

As a franchisor or franchisee, you understand how important marketing is for your business. However, with marketing happening on both sides of the franchise, there can a fair amount of confusion that results in marketing that cannibalizes itself.

There are many methods to handle franchise marketing. Sometimes, the franchisor and a corporate marketing team are wholly in charge. Other times, the franchisee takes on all marketing responsibilities. Most often, it’s a mix of the two.

It’s easy to see how this arrangement could cause confusion for your customers. But by coordinating your marketing efforts, your brand message will be strong and clear across all franchise locations.

Large-scale, national marketing campaigns

Here are some tips for coordinating large-scale marketing campaigns between the franchisor and franchisee.

Focus on the brand

In a franchise, the brand is often the selling point for customers. They know they can trust a certain brand and will support that franchise, no matter where they are. This is why it’s beneficial to focus on the overall brand image in your marketing efforts.

Provide a brand style guide

Franchisors can create a brand style guide for franchisees, to help them create on-brand materials and limit branding mistakes. It you aren’t sure how to create a brand style guide, take a look at this blog post for some killer examples.

Here at Lucidpress, we’re pretty obsessed with staying on-brand and empowering everyone (even franchise owners who have no design experience) to create visual content. If you’re curious how Lucidpress could streamline your franchise marketing, then check this out.

Communicate clearly & frequently

To maintain your brand image across multiple locations, communication is key. Set the precedent that there will be consistent communication regarding marketing efforts between the franchisor and franchise owners.

One area that’s often under-communicated is digital marketing strategy. The franchisor should coordinate website and social media creation with franchisees, so there aren’t multiple accounts that could confuse or misdirect customers.

Looking at these marketing strategies, the biggest factor is the brand. Build a strong brand identity that will give your franchises a good reputation, then give franchise owners the freedom to create their own marketing collateral using approved brand assets.

Small-scale, local marketing campaigns

Small-scale marketing strategies should focus on specific efforts in the local community. Franchises often have the good reputation of the larger brand, but localized marketing is what will win the community over and create a loyal fan-base.

By empowering franchisees to control their own marketing on a local level (and by giving them the tools to stay on-brand), individual franchise revenue will soar.

Here are more tips for localized, franchise-level marketing.

Find local sponsorships

Talk to local charities, sports teams or schools in the area to find opportunities to donate to a good cause and get some advertising. This is a great way to show community members that you’re invested in the area.

For example, when I was in high school, there was a Taco Time that always sponsored the school’s football and basketball teams. Their sponsorship included banners hanging up at the football field and inside the gym. They sold food at the concessions stand and had their logo printed on the game rosters. As you can imagine, my friends and I ate a lot of tacos.

This was a worthy investment for this franchisee, as it showed their support for the community and offered unique advertising opportunities. The owner of the Taco Time had a great relationship with the community and people loved going to his location.

Personalize your messages

When you’re advertising to a specific community, it’s important to personalize your messaging for your audience. Every community is different, and by catering to yours, customers will feel special and more inclined to support you.

A great example of marketing personalization is CrossFit gyms. Each gym (or “box,” in CrossFit lingo) has its own website and social media accounts that tailor their messages to the area where the gym is located. Whether it’s about the weather or events happening in the city, these gyms create a local identity for themselves that members can be part of.

Keep up-to-date

Encourage franchise owners to stay on top of trends and news as they create marketing for their franchises. Being in tune with the local news can help you spot opportunities and avoid embarrassing advertising mistakes.

Any time you post about current news or trends, make sure you do your research. An unfortunate example of this is DiGiorno. When the hashtags #whyistayed and #whyileft were trending on Twitter, DiGiorno tweeted “#whyistayed You had pizza.” The problem: these hashtags were dedicated to discussing and raising awareness of domestic abuse—an incredibly serious cause. Needless to say, many people were offended by the tweet and DiGiorno quickly apologized for its mistake.

Be where your audience is

This, of course, is one of the most important rules in marketing. No matter how clever and wonderful your marketing efforts are, if your audience doesn’t see them, then it’s a waste.

So, find out where your local audience is: Do they spend time on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Do they read the local newspaper? If so, that’s where you should be, too.

Be consistent with the brand

Much of the traction and business a franchise location enjoys comes from the brand name that it carries. To continue attracting and retaining that business, it’s important to stay true to the brand.

If the franchise brand is known for great customer service, then local managers have to make sure that customer service is a priority for them. Personalize each franchise to the local area, but stay true to the brand it represents. For example, maybe there’s a way to provide outstanding customer service that’s unique to your community.

A great example of this is Chick-fil-a. It’s a well-known fact that if you say “Thank you” to any Chick-fil-a employee, they will reply with “My pleasure.” Quality customer service is part of the Chick-fil-a brand, and customers can expect to receive the same level of customer service wherever they go. While each Chick-fil-a has its own concerted marketing efforts, they stay on-brand with their customer service.

Key takeaway

Marketing within a franchise can lead to miscommunication and overlap if the franchisor and franchisee do not coordinate their efforts. However, through communication and a good brand management system, your marketing efforts can complement one another and culminate in more success.

How can franchises maintain brand compliance across locations? Learn more in our free ebook, The complete guide to multi-location branding.

Put simply, the difference between corporate branding and product branding is that corporate branding represents an entire company and its complete portfolio of products, while product branding focuses on a single product. Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn is a product brand. ConAgra Foods is a corporate brand.

Let’s take a quick step back to a recent blog where we defined what branding is: a brand is the sum total of the impressions of all interactions that your customer has with you. If it’s product branding, it’s all the interactions with your product—the packaging, commercials, quality, and so on. If it’s corporate branding or corporate identity it’s all the interactions they have with your company.

How visible is your corporation?

Depending on your company, the corporation may be virtually unknown—everyone knows about Twinkies, but few have ever heard that they’re owned by Flowers Foods. On the other hand, your corporate brand may be front and center for your consumers.

For example, Procter & Gamble was an official sponsor of the Rio Olympics. Their individual products were mentioned, but the focus of their ad campaign focused on P&G as a whole, continuing the mom-oriented messaging they’ve used in recent Olympic games. The campaign focuses on the strength that moms pass onto their kids, and how P&G is an ally in that goal. They cite several of their products: Tide detergent, Bounty paper towels, Pampers diapers, and more. But those products are seen very briefly; this is about corporate branding, and it’s the P&G logo that is displayed proudly at the end of the commercial.

https://youtu.be/1SwFso7NeuA

When corporate branding replaces product branding

Of course, Procter & Gamble doesn’t usually advertise the company as a whole (because their products are so many and so varied—from Dolce & Gabbana perfume to Pepto-Bismol to Febreze—that it’s hard to lump them together and promote them as a block), but other multi-brand companies choose to brand the company instead of the individual products. GE is a good example: they sell microwaves and ovens, but they also make MRI machines, wind turbines, light bulbs and mining equipment.

So, when GE advertises, they’ve made a decision to promote the entire company. A new ad campaign titled “What’s the Matter with Owen?” is a self-deprecating series in which a young college grad gets hired by GE and, instead of congratulations, he gets sympathy from his uninformed friends. He has to explain to them (and to us, the viewers) that GE is a great company for developers like him. They’re a “digital industrial” company.

When your product portfolio needs to be split up

Recently on this blog, we talked about Disney’s brand message: “Magical Family Fun.” It’s a message that defines its theme parks, movies, stores and merchandising. But The Walt Disney Company consists of much more than just magical family fun. They own other family fun brands like Lucasfilm and Marvel, the ABC Television Group (with channels like A&E, the History Channel and Lifetime), and ESPN with its many spin-off channels.

In this case, all of these disparate brands under The Walt Disney Company’s umbrella don’t get into corporate branding the same way that consumer-packaged goods conglomerates like Procter & Gamble do. They occasionally work together (ABC collaborates with ESPN during March Madness, for example), but ESPN never raises the Disney flag.

Your corporation has a brand whether you manage it or not

But here’s the thing about branding: you have a corporate brand, whether you are managing it or not. Your company’s products do not exist in a vacuum. Disney has suffered lawsuits and boycotts against one subsidiary because of the actions of another.

The Southern Baptist Convention voted to boycott Disney’s theme parks and movies because ABC was airing Ellen, the show in which Ellen DeGeneres came out as lesbian. The Catholic League called for a boycott of Disney when Miramax (a movie studio owned by The Walt Disney Company until 2010) released Dogma, a movie where God is played by Alanis Morissette. Because Disney owned all of these things, people chose to boycott more than just the properties which offended them.

When brands clash

A similar thing happened with the large brand conglomerate Unilever: Dove soap began the “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty,” a marketing campaign which focused on non-Photoshopped models and women who were comfortable in their own skin. It was, and is, a beloved campaign for Dove beauty products, but it was cited as hypocritical by some who realized that Unilever also owned the Axe brand—a brand that, according to protesters, objectified women. (Ads for Axe showed airbrushed models unable to resist men who had used the body spray.)

Protesters added that, if Unilever would show gratuitously sexual ads, then the “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” is not a true value of the brand or the leadership at Unilever, but a simple marketing ploy.

Key takeaway

Not every conglomerate has to behave like Procter & Gamble, advertising its products together as a group with a single focus. Nor does a company need to be like GE, uniting all of its products under the same brand. But whenever you are interacting with your customers, you are sending a message. Corporate branding is happening whether it’s directed by the company or not.

Magazines have found new life on the web, where old brands have undergone a digital transformation to stay relevant and compete with myriad newcomers both fragile and nimble. A look at the newsstand might make one wonder where all the magazines have gone—but often, a simple Google search reveals the answer.

We love magazines here at Lucidpress, which is one reason why we make it easy to design and share your own. Gorgeous and informational, magazines are an enjoyable way to connect with a lifestyle, hobby or industry—such as brand management, for example. Here’s our roundup of the 8 best free magazines online for brand marketers.

1. Branding Magazine

Best Free Brand Magazines Online

With the tagline “Narrating the discussion,” Branding Magazine covers thought leadership and conversations happening in the branding and marketing industries across the globe. Data and case studies combine to create compelling How-To guides and other advice. Articles are beautifully designed and free to read online.

In this evocative article, design strategist Jonathan Ford speaks with relationship expert Esther Perel about brand desirability and devotion, and why we find ourselves drawn to some brands but not others.

Subscribe: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/

2. Brand Quarterly

Best Free Branding Magazines Online

Brand Quarterly takes a holistic approach to brand management, pulling in relevant stories and data from various sectors of the marketing world. A quick glance at their latest articles reveals insights about multigenerational marketing, inbound strategies, and even personal branding tips.

In this article, author Adam Pierno reminds us that there is more to our brands than logos and messaging; context beyond our control contributes to brand perception as well.

Subscribe: http://www.brandquarterly.com/the-magazine

3. Brand Packaging

Best Marketing Magazines Online

Brand Packaging puts a special focus on how brands present their physical products—that is, product packaging. However, it is so much more than that. In this magazine are important discussions about what makes a brand resonate, what keeps it relevant, and why consumers behave the way they do.

In this article, author Ted Mininni examines what makes a brand culturally relevant, and how one brand in particular—Monster Jam—became a unique cultural phenomenon.

Subscribe: http://www.brandpackaging.com/publications/3

4. Onbrand Magazine

Best Brand Management Magazines

With a sharp focus on the outer edges of technology, Onbrand Magazine features contemporary discussions about the future of brand management. From virtual reality to the latest social media development, Onbrand raises questions and offers advice on how to move your brand forward.

In this article, author Rob Coke wonders whether “brand” has become a redundant concept—or worse, conflated with the worst of sleazy advertising techniques. How can brands adjust to show their genuine, honest purpose?

Subscribe: https://www.onbrand.me/

5. UX Magazine

Best Free Magazines Online

Although it’s primarily focused on user experience design, UX Magazine has a robust “Marketing and Brand” section, dedicated to content that lives in that shared Venn diagram space where UX and branding meet. If you aim to be a well-rounded brand manager, it pays to check in here once in a while.

In this article, author David Rhyne examines the who, when and why of visual design—and how good visual design is part of a well-thought out product and an effective brand.

Subscribe: https://uxmag.com/topics/marketing-and-brand

6. Transform Magazine

Best Free Rebranding Magazines Online

Calling itself the only global magazine dedicated to rebranding and brand development, Transform Magazine puts the spotlight on an area of branding that is often overlooked. Successful brands evolve and change with the times, and you can learn important lessons by hearing their stories.

In this opinion article, CEO Simon Massey of the Gild takes a look at nostalgia in the digital age, and how brands can build a bridge between the digital and the physical.

Subscribe: http://www.transformmagazine.net/

7. Harvard Business Review

Best Business Magazines Online

Just because you’ve graduated college doesn’t mean you should leave this gem behind. Harvard Business Review has an impeccable reputation for providing practical case studies and actionable advice. Check out the Branding section—you can read 4 articles for free each month, or register to read 4 more.

In this long-form article, brand expert Douglas Holt dives into the success and failure of brands on social media, and how a concept called “crowdculture” changes the rules of branding online.

Subscribe: https://hbr.org/topic/marketing

8. Chief Content Officer

Best Content Marketing Magazines Online

This magazine published by the Content Marketing Institute is uniquely focused on content marketing, a relatively new industry which grew out of SEO. Content is vital to brand messaging, making this publication a valuable read for brand managers.

In this article, CCO editor Clare McDermott takes us behind the scenes at Autodesk, a 3D design & engineering company that took content marketing to heart and launched a highly successful content program which bolstered its brand.

Subscribe: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/chief-content-officer/

What do you think? Will you be adding any of these to your must-read list, and are there important titles we’ve missed? Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below.

If you’re serious about upping your social media game, then brand consistency is key.

Many new businesses underestimate the amount of time and effort that goes into creating a social media presence that counts, and social media marketing is often seen as a cheap and cheerful way to spread the word about your business. While social media can be a fun and cost-effective marketing tool, it does eat up a lot of time. If you’re keen to invest that time in developing social feeds that make a difference to your business, you’ll need to have social media guidelines for keeping your brand consistent.

5 benefits to brand consistency on social media

Accomplishing brand consistency on social media isn’t easy, but it is achievable. Before we tackle how you can achieve it, let’s first consider why it matters.

It makes you memorable.

There are 500 million tweets sent every day, with 6,000 going out every second. When users see online content from a brand they can easily recognize, they’re more likely to remember them in the future, both online and offline.

It increases customer engagement and loyalty.

If customers remember and recognize a brand, they’ll feel much more comfortable interacting with them. Likewise, customers are more likely to stay loyal to brands who deliver a consistent message.

It helps you stand out from the crowd.

Having a brand that is easily recognized will help to set you apart from your competitors. There are 6 Facebook profiles created every second, resulting in around 500,000 new users every day. If you’re not consistent in branding your business across the various platforms you use, it can be easy to get lost in the crowd.

It gives you authority.

Branding that’s done well looks professional. It builds trust because it tells your audience that you know what you’re doing and you care about the details.

It makes you relatable.

Using social media to show the unique personality of your brand is an effective way of helping customers relate to you.

Tips for branding your social profiles consistently

To achieve visual brand consistency when setting up your social profiles, there are a few key things you’ll need to remember.

Names & handles

If you want your customers to be able to find you easily as they move from one platform to another, it’s important that your name and handle is the same wherever you are.

Colors & logos

Even before they read your name or bio, visitors will register your logo and the colors you’ve used. Make sure that these two things represent your brand in the right way. They should match your website and any other communications that go out to your customers.

Taglines

If your business has a tagline, display it prominently on your social profiles. Taglines are memorable, and using yours consistently will help your customers recognize you.

Still working on your brand basics? Read more: The 7 key elements of brand identity design

3 questions to ask before you start posting

Next, we’ll look at keeping your brand consistent when you post on social media—but before we do, here are a few important questions you’ll need to have the answers to.

Who is your audience?

The internet has 3.77 billion users and 2.78 billion of those are active social media users. To ensure your social media content is directed at the right sort of people for your business, you’ll need to understand a few things about your target audience. How do they identify themselves? What are their interests? What motivates them?

Who is the audience on each network?

Not everyone is on every social network, and if they are on two or more, it’s likely for different reasons. Consider what your target audience expects when they visit each social platform and how you can provide the content they’re looking for.

Social media management platform Hootsuite predicts growth in the following themes for 5 top social platforms:

Hootsuite's Perspective — Social Media Themes

What language and tone will you use?

Deciding in advance whether you’ll use “we” or “I,” whether you’ll be funny or serious, and whether you’ll stick to perfect English or use slang and text-speak is an important move. There’s no wrong answer, it’s just about deciding what’s right for your audience. Once you know, make sure everyone in your business who posts is consistent.

Tips for social media posts with brand consistency

Once you’ve got answers to the questions above, you can start to think about when and how you’ll post and what you’ll share where.

Don’t just advertise.

The most successful brand accounts have a following because they offer something that their followers value. If you’re using social media just to promote and advertise, your audience will unfollow. What else will you offer: Promotions? Behind the scenes insight? Helpful information? Technical support? If you’re not sure where to start, check out the competition and see what works for them.

Post regularly and consistently.

Creating a social media account that stands unused can be harmful to your business. If a customer searches for you and sees that you haven’t posted for a while, they may assume that your business has closed.

Posting consistently can also help you develop a relationship with your audience and increase engagement. If they know when to expect a certain type of post from you that they appreciate, they’ll look out for it and may even begin to interact with you.

Consider your posting frequency per platform.

Posting regularly doesn’t have to mean posting all the time. It’s about quality over quantity. The frequency of your posts should depend on both the relevancy of your content and the platform you’re using. Do some research to find optimal times for posting based on platform and then set a schedule. There are free tools available online that will help you stick to it.

Curate content that fits.

Creating quality content for multiple social media platforms is a full-time job and, if your business is small, you simply might not have the resources. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from posting regularly. Sharing content from other people and businesses that echo your brand’s message is an effective way to keep the ball rolling while you’re working on other things.

Repurpose old content.

Likewise, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t repurpose old content. Share old posts that recent followers may have missed, or transform the content into something new. You could create an infographic from a long blog post, for example, or try breaking it up into smaller pieces and expanding on each one.

Don’t be repetitive.

While it’s important to post regularly, you should be aware of sounding repetitive. Don’t bombard your followers with the same message again and again, and be careful not to publish the exact same post across all your channels at the same time. Active social media users tend to jump from platform to platform within the space of minutes—if they’re seeing the exact same post from you wherever they go, they’ll start to feel overwhelmed by your content.

With that being said, if you’re running a big promotion or have an important announcement, you should certainly feature it across all of your social platforms. Instead of sending it out across multiple channels at one time, consider when the best times for posting on each channel are and stagger your message accordingly.

Don’t forget to link and cross-reference your social accounts. If you’re running a special promotion on Facebook, let your Twitter followers know. Likewise, if you have some content on Snapchat that you’re proud of, mention it on Instagram. Try only to do this when you have something your followers will appreciate—do it too much and you risk being repetitive.

Document your brand guidelines

There’s a lot to understand and remember, isn’t there?

If you’re committed to developing a social media presence that is both beneficial to and consistent with your brand, it’s worth considering documenting your brand guidelines.

Learn more about brand guidelines: 10 examples of great brand guidelines

Key takeaways

To achieve brand consistency on social media:

Ready to drive more brand awareness with social media? Grab a copy of our free eBook: How to adapt your brand to social media

A good logo represents the brand positively to the world, which is one reason why there are so many agencies dedicated to designing outstanding logos. Although the names and objectives of many organizations remain unchanged for many years, their logos are often renewed periodically.

Rebranding is sometimes necessary for shaping the future of the company, but you can reap some of the benefits simply by improving your logo design. A redesigned logo goes a long way in attracting and influencing customers. Here are 9 great examples of famous brands who have successfully redesigned their logos.

Pizza Hut

best logo redesigns

Since Pizza Hut’s opening in 1958, its logo has been redesigned many times. From the original mascot Pete holding the words “Pizza” and “Hut” in both hands, the logo has evolved to feature an iconic hut-shaped roof as its main element. With this redesign, Pizza Hut has stamped its signature slanted roof in sauce—to match an upgraded menu with bold sauces and premium ingredients.

Pizza Hut’s renewed logo is simple and classically designed with a minimal color combo of red and white. Developed as a flat design, this red logo still inspires hunger.

MailChimp

best logo redesigns

This example comes from Jessica Hische, the designer of the revamped MailChimp logo. The redesign looks quite similar to the previous version; there are minor improvements rather than a complete change.

MailChimp’s old and new logos may look alike at first glance, but there’s a difference in typography which makes the new logo cleaner and easier to read. Redesigning your logo doesn’t always mean a total overhaul. In fact, improving the look and feel of an existing logo can preserve and enhance the brand identity you’ve already built.

Firefox

best logo redesigns

Firefox, the open-source internet browser, uses a logo which has gone through several iterations since 2004—but the imagery and symbolism remain the same. This logo features a dark blue globe (the web) with a bright orange fox speeding around it.

The logo design team at Mozilla have modernized the existing logo by changing several visual elements. The glossy touch on top of the globe has been removed, while the contrast of the fox’s tail has been heightened. It’s a flatter design that’s still as vibrant and fiery as ever.

Mall of America

best logo redesigns

The launch of the Mall of America’s new logo is a perfect example of rebranding. The largest retail and entertainment complex since 1992, the Mall of America has recently upgraded from its older, nostalgic brand to something new, modern and dynamic.

Before, its logo recalled the American flag with its star shape, color scheme, and waving lines. An old-fashioned serif font proclaimed “MALL OF AMERICA” at the bottom.

In contrast, the revamped logo features a multicolored star made of ribbons, along with the company’s name in a sans-serif font. This represents the changing vision and diversity of the mall, while still retaining its recognizable American star.

Motorola

best logo redesigns

Motorola’s new logo first debuted in Techweek back in 2013. Motorola was acquired by Google, and its redesigned logo represents this merger well. The flat design and letter “M” are common to both versions, but the font has changed and the colors are aligned more closely with Google’s branding. And in case that isn’t clear enough, the tagline “a Google company” is added below the Motorola brand name.

Google

best logo redesigns

Speaking of Google, its current logo was unveiled in 2015. Its original logo was designed in 1997 and digitized by founder Larry Page. In 1999, further visual elements were integrated into the logo such as an exclamation symbol, enhanced hues, and a background shadow.

Like many of today’s modern logos, the current Google logo is a flat design. There have been minor changes to Google’s logo throughout its journey, but it has always retained its classic serif typography and bold colors.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

best logo redesigns

Illustrations can certainly make your logo more visually interesting, but they can also become too complicated. Thus, the recently redesigned logo of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was simplified to look more polished but still feature the same pirate imagery.

The colors here are smartly used—a brighter, richer red calls attention to the flag, and black outlines the illustration without overpowering it. Redesigning a sports logo can be tricky business because fans are so attached to their team, but this logo retains all the crucial elements of the original, right down to the flag’s sword handle.

eBay

best logo redesigns

The disordered arrangement of letters in eBay’s logo were the main target of this redesign. eBay’s new logo looks modern, featuring a flat design with no letters overlapping. The colors have been lightened to make them easier on the eyes, as well. In this svelte version, eBay has elevated its brand from the wild early days of internet commerce to a long-standing and trusted online marketplace.

Facebook

best logo redesigns

Facebook occasionally launches different logos with new versions of its site. As the most popular social network, Facebook must keep up with its users and reflect the latest design trends—but its identity is always the same.

This new logo, like many of its digital peers, is designed in flat format with the bottom line removed. Also, the “f” now extends all the way to the edge. With its navy blue background and bold letter “f,” Facebook’s rounded square icon is still instantly recognizable across the web.

So there you have it—9 examples of logo redesigns from some of today’s successful brands. Trends like flat design and bright colors can bring new life into an old logo. As the market changes and evolves, these logos will change again, too. But most importantly, they will continue to represent and build a strong, consistent brand identity that resonates with their customers.

Wondering whether it’s time to rebrand your own business or organization? Learn more in our free eBook: How and Why to Rebrand Your Company

Your brand is your promise, and it’s important that you build it thoughtfully and deliberately. A brand has never been successfully established by simply uploading a good-looking logo and writing a few lines on social platforms. To create a real identity, brands have to invest a lot of time and effort. There’s research to be done, competitors to be identified, and expert professionals to be consulted. Every business should learn what branding is and why it’s needed. Whether you’re starting a new business or have already established one, mistakes are unavoidable. However, here are 7 mistakes brands make that you’d be wise to avoid.

Brand management is evolving rapidly. Are you prepared? Learn more in our free eBook.

1. Failure to research the competition

This is especially important if you are a new business. Researching the competition helps you understand what established businesses in your industry have done: where they have failed, where they have succeeded and where you can give your brand an advantage. Your research should include products, services, target audiences, websites and social platforms. If you don’t, this could trip you up in two ways: first, being unable to judge the competition properly and second, replicating a competitor’s strategies without truly understanding them.

2. Failure to understand your target audience

Before you start selling or even pitching, you’ve got to understand what kind of audience you’re speaking to. You should understand their demands, their expectations, the things they identify with and the kinds of brands they favor. Once you do find your target audience, branding and messaging will get a lot easier.

3. Taking feedback from the wrong sources

Depending on the type of product or service you’re looking to sell and the market you want to cover, you’ll need to take feedback from the right sources. Limiting your sources to positive reviews won’t help you set or measure appropriate goals. Friends, family members, employees and relatives might give you positive reviews no matter what, so think before accepting reviews from them. For any modern brand, the best platform for reviews includes both social media and review sites.

4. It’s not just about logo redesign

As already stated, branding’s not just about a logo or a tagline. Branding constitutes everything that you represent—even your company’s voice and the style of content you create. You will find an audience when you have a competitive advantage and a distinct style. Without that, there’s no value!

Some companies rebrand and spend thousands of dollars on logo redesign but not enough on other brand assets. For example, an online fashion brand can’t boost sales by just changing its logo design. To build a profitable e-commerce brand, it should focus on its customer care team, product quality, advertising (both online and offline), competitive pricing, and many other factors.

Yahoo logo redesign

Here’s a real-world example. When Marissa Mayer became Yahoo’s CEO, she decided to change the logo of the company. It made for big hype among the users, marketers, bloggers and everyone else. But when Yahoo finally unveiled its new logo, all expectations were crushed. It wasn’t terrible… but it wasn’t exciting, either. It turned out to be just a minor change that didn’t bring any significant growth to the Yahoo brand.

5. Inconsistency

Brand consistency has a tremendous impact on your business. Consistency helps build familiarity, loyalty and eventually, credibility. Be consistent with your promotions, personality, communication and every other interaction you make with your audience.

Coca-Cola logo redesigns

For example, Coca-Cola might just be the most consistent brand in history. Its logo has hardly changed in 130 years. Everyone recognizes its fun-in-the-sun summer campaigns and heartwarming Christmas campaigns. The brand has built such loyalty that no other soda can beat it—even when Pepsi famously won blind taste tests with consumers. Now in the digital age, Coca-Cola has built a huge audience of followers on social media, so it’s quite easy to reach its target audience wherever they may be.

6. Not focusing on first impressions

A brand with clunky design is a brand that will go unnoticed. You could have an amazing product, great messaging and outstanding customer service, but without a visually appealing presentation, people may never pay attention.

Some larger companies that gained popularity before the internet still get away with bad design, but any brand created after the mid-2000s should know better. A modern, user-friendly design will build your brand’s credibility and bolster its overall appeal.

The fix: You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, so if your brand’s design or website needs a facelift, make it a priority. There are plenty of business resources out there to help direct your efforts, as well as tools like Lucidpress that can make visual design easy and effective.

Poor customer service

Whether you realize it or not, poor customer service can be a huge detriment to your brand. People are more likely to talk about their experience with a product if the experience was negative, which is why the customer experience should be your brand’s No. 1 priority.

United Airlines had a rocky time for customer service last year, for instance, as a video of a passenger being dragged off a flight went viral in April 2017. Adding insult to injury, the CEO’s delayed response felt cold and unapologetic. These incidents caused United’s stock to drop drastically and skewed the country’s perception of this brand altogether.

The fix: Apply the tried-and-true saying: “The customer is always right.” You need to meet your users where they are, even if you have to go out of your way to do it. Examples of brands with exceptional customer service include CostcoMarriott and JetBlue. Companies that offer satisfaction guarantees, provide incentives and make up for mishaps build a strong loyal customer base.

Misusing (or not using) social media

Neglecting social media is another way to hurt your brand and diminish customer satisfaction.

A lot of social media fails simply stem from good intentions, like when Cinnabon attempted to honor Carrie Fisher with a tacky image or when Crocs tried to tribute David Bowie—both insensitivity issues that were magnified by their wide social media reach.

Other times, brands simply fail to invest enough time and money into social media efforts at all. Keeping up with various social sites shows consumers that you care about them, especially when you’re able to reply to questions and complaints promptly.

The fix: Devote actual time and resources to building a social media strategy. If you’re looking for a brand to follow, Wendy’s is a great example of social media use. With almost 2.5 million followers on Twitter, more than 8.5 million likes on Facebook and over 700,000 followers on Instagram, the brand has a consistent image, posts often and interacts with its fan base. The company’s social media team also keeps up with current events and pop culture—a great way to engage with followers.

7. Not having a Plan B

There are many businesses that think a brand is something you establish and then it takes care of itself. Today, that’s completely untrue. You should constantly refine and revise your offerings to deliver better quality and adapt to the changing needs of the market. Not all branding strategies will work the first time. In those instances, you need to be ready with a second plan to ensure that recovery is immediate.

One of the most visible examples of a brand refusing to adapt to change is Blockbuster. In 2000, Netflix’s founder approached Blockbuster offering to sell his relatively small company that rented movies online through a mail subscription service. As the popular movie store was making most of its revenue through late fees, Blockbuster turned Netflix down, unable to see the potential.

Today, Netflix continues to be a model for adapting to change as it has transitioned from mail-order DVDs to streaming, and the brand now produces hundreds of original shows and movies. Meanwhile, Blockbuster is survived by just a handful of stores in Alaska.

The fix: Listen to your consumer base. When they push for greater convenience or more options, adjust your strategy to give them what they’re asking for. If you don’t, another brand surely will. [ ]

 8. Insensitivity

Insensitivity in branding is a major issue. Companies make headlines all the time for creating well-meaning ads that turn into PR nightmares. Take the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial debacle of 2017. Rather than striking a chord of solidarity, it left viewers either laughing at the poor execution or feeling angry at the commodification of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Another prime example of insensitivity is the Filet-o-Fish ad from McDonald’s in the U.K. The spot featured a boy asking his mom about his deceased father, only to find out the one thing they had in common was their affinity for McDonald’s. Using such a grave subject to sell fish sandwiches felt emotionally manipulative to many consumers, and the company took down the ad shortly after the backlash.

The fix: Before delving into any controversial or sensitive topics, consider how your brand fits into the issue. An honest attempt at sparking emotion in viewers can quickly turn into exploitation. Learn where to draw the line.

9. Selling the “what” instead of the “why”

A common mistake in branding is selling your company’s features rather than a big idea. As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.”

Sinek references TiVo as an example of a company that led with its features—being able to pause and rewind live TV—and failed to really capture its users’ attention.

On the other hand, Apple is one of the most successful brands because the company sold a big idea by telling the world to “think different” about computers. It sold a mindset and lifestyle instead of some technical specifications.

The fix: Find something you believe in, focus on that value, and build your brand around it. Coke sells happiness in a bottle. Nike sells motivation. Rather than focusing on dry, explanatory messaging, your brand should have a nearly tangible energy.

Managing a brand is not an easy thing. But you must always understand that your business is more than just its products and services. Success depends on the way you shape the experience of your customers. This is what defines your brand identity. Once you’ve established trust in your brand, you’ll never want to look back.

Here’s a startling fact for you: marketing has changed.

(Gasp!) I know. It’s a frightfully unsurprising tidbit of information. But here’s the deal—it’s not only marketing that’s changed, it’s who’s doing the marketing.

Gone are the days where marketing meant a highly-trained marketer doing mass marketing to a mass audience while everyone else focused on running a company worth marketing for.

These days, “everyone else” is significantly more involved. Employees, partners, vendors (the list goes on) are often involved in creating content that represents your brand. And since marketing, when it comes down to it, is any touchpoint your brand has with its consumers, this sort of involvement can be frightening to brand managers.

From email onboarding to Yelp reviews to customer support, marketing has slowly crept up on every department and every employee to hold each and every one of them responsible for properly representing the brand.

The problem? Not everyone knows how to properly represent the brand.

As businesses expand across locations, consistent marketing becomes a major issue. Old logos are used, images are stretched, colors are off-hue, and horrific clip art is inserted into marketing collateral. It’s a brand manager’s nightmare. So how do we fix it?

Enter distributed marketing management.

Definition time!

Distributed marketing management is the process of creating, managing, and delivering marketing content across a wide range of channels and locations—all while staying consistent along the way. It’s the 21st-century marketers’ solution to allowing brands to easily expand without disrupting their messaging or their time.

Distributed marketing, whether you’ve heard of it or not, has become a common strategy among organizations for tackling their larger-than-life and never-ending list of marketing tasks. Up until the last decade, businesses lacked a way to centralize their ever-expanding marketing needs and get their brand out efficiently without disrupting it.

Plus, with a growing number of potential channels, audiences, partners, distribution methods (should I go on?), any normal organization quivers at the thought of dealing with all the moving parts on their own. They need something that helps them centralize, customize and manage everything without wasting time and without stepping on toes.

The benefits. Oh, the benefits.

This distributed marketing management stuff (try saying that five times fast) makes life a whole lot easier for marketers. A few reasons why:

Distributed marketing in the real world

Heard of MHA? Most likely not. But there are thousands of elderly in Europe who have, thanks in part to distributed marketing.

MHA, the Methodist Housing Association, was founded during World War II with the goal of providing shelter and resources for the elderly. Now managing over 90 care homes and housing over 5,000 elderly, the association has spread across England, Wales, and Scotland.

The problem MHA faced was a problem common amongst such organizations. The various homes and communities operated mostly autonomously until very recently when the organization decided to attempt unifying the groups into a single entity. Up until this point, the communities had been self-run, using their own messaging, mediums, and marketing tactics for almost 70 years. MHA marketing knew they had to find something that was cloud-based and easily managed.

With just a little bit of research, Kwan Cheung, MHA’s Community Marketing Specialist, discovered that template-based marketing with Lucidpress would solve his inconsistency issues almost entirely. He updated MHA’s brand guidelines, applied them to some custom templates, locked down the branded elements, and distributed the templates to MHA’s various communities for them to localize without disrupting the essence of MHA’s branded style.

From branded posters and flyers, to Facebook ads and digital newsletters—MHA finally discovered a way to keep their brand consistent without slowing it down. Thanks, distributed marketing! (Read the full case study here.)

At the end of the day, marketing will always be hard. Once you get the messaging down, it’s hard to distribute it properly and quickly. That’s why implementing a system that helps you easily customize and distribute materials, no matter how big your business grows, is honestly worth every penny.

Convinced your organization could use the help of distributed marketing? Lucidpress includes all the above-mentioned features and more to help you centralize and manage your marketing campaigns. Give it a try and start working some marketing magic today.

Building a brand is easy to do. Building a strong, sucessful brand that stands the test of time, people, and competitors? Now that’s a different story. Here is an 8-step guide to building a brand development strategy.

Your brand comprises essential elements like positioning, personality, logo design, color scheme, tagline, etc.

All components are crucial to thoughtfully building your brand to stand against competitors and win.

It can feel overwhelming but before you start to panic about the sustainability of your small business and your brand equity, keep in mind that developing a lasting brand strategy is within reach, you just have to know the right formula. Read on to learn how to develop a strong brand strategy

Brand building is the process of shaping customers’ emotions, feelings, memories, and opinions associated with your brand through a strategy-driven plan that stands the test of time and people.

Brand Development Process and Strategies:

Step 1: Establish what your brand represents, at its core.

Create a list of your business’s core strengths. Why was the business started to begin with? What problem did the founder (you?) set out to solve?

One great way to succinctly summarize your brand’s purpose is to create a mission statement. Airbnb for example does a great job of providing a mission statement that clearly defines values, benefits, and quality all at once.

Airbnb
Image Credit: Airbnb

Your mission statement doesn’t even have to be displayed to the public for it to be impactful. Using one as an internal guiding light can still provide the vision and inspiration your employees need to know exactly what the company stands for and how their work should reflect that on a daily basis.

Step 2: Keep your brand distinct from its competitors.

Is it possible to sell the exact same product as competitors but still differentiate somehow? Yes. And companies do it all the time.

android vs apple
Photo Credit: TechCrunch

In the endless Apple vs. Android wars, the brands continue to differentiate themselves through strong branding, campaign messaging, and product offerings. You know them and you are likely very familiar with the ongoing competition.

The secret to competitive marketing is in your brand. It’s not just your product; it’s how you position your brand personality compared to everyone else. 

Take a deep look at the competitive field, find out how others are marketing their successful brands, then throw it all out the window and get creative.

Step 3: Determine your target audience.

As good as your intentions may be, your business simply can’t be everything to everyone.

Don’t be afraid to get specific and think about exactly the kind of person that would most benefit from your product or service. The more specific, the easier it is to target them with messaging that resonates.

It may be tempting to skip this part of the process (or to continue ignoring it if your business already seems to be doing well), but brand building is about building for the long term, and the more generic your targeting is… the more generic your brand becomes down the road.

Step 4: Create an elevator pitch.

At Marq, we have messaging that answers what we are, what we do, and the problems we solve for.

Here is an example:

For marketing and brand leaders who need to drive business growth, Marq is the brand-templating platform that enables businesses to deliver relevant content to their audience faster, by empowering everyone in the organization to build on-brand content.
Unlike desktop publishing software or design tools built for individuals, Marq is built for enterprise readiness with lockable brand templates, creative automation, and highly customizable team management.
Marq Messaging

The value in having a well-thought-out statement that everyone can access, which quickly explains exactly what we do, enables everyone to clearly understand our brand positioning.

Step 5: Build out your brand.

Now that you’ve determined the foundation of your brand and what it stands for, it’s time to put everything into action. That means creating a style guide, determining your brand personality, formulating your brand’s strategy, and making sure everyone is on the same page. 

Food for thought: Broadway productions don’t tell great stories by simply creating ravishing brochures, and businesses don’t tell great stories by simply designing clever logos.

Your brand is the feeling your ads evoke, the kind of people you hire, the friendliness of your support team, your brand’s voice, your brand’s visuals, your business’s values… your brand is everything your business produces and represents. Make this step of the brand building process priority from the beginning and your brand will have the life and depth it needs to strengthen your business’s image.

Step 6: Promote away.

This is the fun part. We all know what promotion means, but the right promotion can mean different things for different businesses. So whether it’s social media, radio ads, magazine covers, YouTube videos, billboards, PPC, content marketing, or guerrilla marketing — figure out where your target market already is and then go to them. A whole article could be dedicated to this subject, but for now just make note that this step is important for raising brand awareness, and you should dedicate a lot of time to it.

Step 7: Personalize, personalize, personalize.

As much as you can, at least. It’s 2023 and consumers expect their products and businesses to get smarter about how they speak to them. That means understanding your target audience’s pain points, getting on social media, using their first name in emails, etc. are examples of content personalization. Robotic language, over-enthusiasm, and baby talking are looked down on and feel inauthentic. So get real, and find out the tone of voice your customers most appreciate.

Step 8: Consistency is key.

You can build a brand for the books, but it’s not going to last long if you don’t figure out a way to guarantee it stays consistent. What happens when Sandra from Sales stretches your logo? Or Evan from Events changes the color scheme on a branded flyer to orange and pink? 

Zillions (to be exact) of brand managers face these harrowing situations every day and watch their strategically-built brands fall apart in the hands of well-intentioned employees.

One of the best ways to protect your brand from rogue content and inconsistencies is with web-based lockable templates. That way, beautiful branded content can start with your graphic designers and still look just as beautifully on-brand by the time it reaches your customers.

brand building strategy templates

Your graphic designers can lock down the elements of your brand that should never be changed (logo, fonts, images, etc.) before sending the template off to other employees in the company to put to use. Pretty enticing, right? Saying goodbye to brand inconsistencies forever is one massive sigh of relief for brand managers, and anyone who cares about properly building your brand equity, for that matter.

If brand consistency is something your business could stand to improve as part of your brand management strategy, consider trying Marq. With Marq, you can import your business-branded templates (or create them directly in Marq), and share them across teams. Lockdown critical brand elements and no longer worry about content being produced that is off-brand.

Want to know more about how to build your brand? Schedule a 1:1 with one of our brand-templating experts. Say goodbye to rogue content and hello to brand consistency.

Theft is a major concern for every business, as losing property almost always results in a loss of profit. For online businesses, however, the greatest concern is not the theft of physical goods, but that of intellectual property (IP). This is particularly true for small- and medium-sized business owners, who depend on their logos, trademarks, designs, and other property of the intellect to make a living.

An online business’s competitive advantage comes from and is built around its ideas, and if these ideas are not properly protected, they can be stolen—resulting in huge financial losses for the business. Incredibly, it is estimated that the cost of intellectual property theft to the US economy could be as high as [small businesses are now being targeted for IP theft](http://www.ipcommission.org/report/IP_Commission_Report_Update_2017.pdf “Cost of IP theft could be $600 billion>$600 billion annually.

It’s important to take preventative measures to ensure that your online business does not fall victim to theft of any kind. So what can you do to safeguard your brand?

Below, we’ve compiled four ways you can protect your brand from the looming threat of intellectual property theft.

1. Trademark your brand

Intellectual property includes artistic and musical works, designs, images, literature and software—all of which help to develop your reputation in a given industry and build customer trust in your brand.

Copyright law covers a lot of the written material that can be found on your website or mobile app, but the components that make up your brand will not be protected through copyright protections alone.

Proprietary rights and trademark protections are sometimes established through consistent use in a given marketplace, but the internet is the wild west, and this kind of recognition in such an open and undefined marketplace is unlikely.

One of the best ways to protect your intellectual property is to register a trademark for your brand name, logo, designs, slogans, and any words associated with your brand. Obtaining a registered trademark for your brand’s IP will allow you to use the registered trademark symbol “®” in conjunction with these assets.

Not only will this deter would-be thieves from stealing your stuff, but it will also give you verifiable proof that you are the original owner of the trademarked material. You will have ground to stand on in the event that the issue is brought to court.

In order to register your brand materials, you must first submit an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Registration is not automatic, nor is it guaranteed. Three months after you initially file your application, it will be reviewed by an examining attorney, who will check that your intellectual property is in compliance with USPTO rules and regulations.

Compliance is fairly straightforward, but your chance of success will most likely come down to whether you do two things:

Avoid likelihood of confusion

According to the USPTO, “likelihood of confusion” exists if they determine that the applicant’s marks are similar in appearance, sound, meaning or pronunciation to another and the goods or services provided by the two companies are similar enough for consumers to mistakenly believe they’re from the same company.

In order to avoid likelihood of confusion and get your IP certified, you must ensure that the IP of others in your industry is not similar to yours. You can do this by performing a trademark search in the USPTO trademark database.

Reduce similarity with established entity

Trademark registration applications are often declined based on their similarities with already established entities—both public and private. Your application may be refused on these grounds whether the established entity has a trademark of its own or not.

Established entities can include surnames, geographic locations, an individual’s name or likeness, and the names of books and/or movies.

As long as you avoid similarities with these types of entities, you will surely see your trademark application get accepted, and you can continue protecting your brand from IP theft.

Generic intellectual property is much more easily replicated, copied and stolen—and thus more likely to be targeted for theft. This is illustrated by the fact that the most counterfeited brands in the world are Nike, Apple and Rolex, which all have relatively simple branding designs and logos.

You can make your brand stand out and decrease the chance of falling victim to intellectual property theft by creating branding material that has greater complexity. One way to achieve this is by linking it to a source.

Your brand can be linked to any kind of attributional source—from names and dates to locations and styles.

For example, if your company were one that (God forbid) sold fidget spinners, you may have adopted a name like “Super Spinners.” Unfortunately, while your company may in fact be super, it also has generic and easily replicated branding. Adding a source to the brand will change that completely. Something like “Silly Steve’s Super Spinners” not only makes it less generic and thus, more appealing, but also more difficult to copy.

This concept applies not only to naming schemes, but also to your logos, slogans, and other words associated with your company.

Attributing a source to your brand will make it a lot more unique—and a lot less likely to become the victim of IP theft.

3. Include an intellectual property clause in your terms & conditions

From a legal standpoint, it’s important to protect yourself and your intellectual property in writing. The best way to achieve this is with a comprehensive terms and conditions (T&C) agreement posted in a conspicuous location on your website or mobile app.

terms and conditions agreement is a legal statement where you outline the rules and guidelines that users must agree with and adhere to in order to do business with you. It is a fundamental policy for your business and one that will give you the legal backing to deal with abuses and unruly users.

It is within your T&C agreement that you should include an intellectual property clause. This is where you state that all intellectual property—including but not limited to copyrighted material and trademarks—is owned by you and/or the company, and that you have proprietary rights to that material.

Not only will this disclosure give you legal grounds to fight intellectual property theft and copyright infringement, but it might also deter potential thieves from going through with it. They’ll see that you’ve taken precautionary steps to protect your brand, and that you will be vigilant in safeguarding your investment.

It’s important not to limit your IP rights. The wording is crucial and will determine whether your property is properly protected. Consult with a lawyer when drafting this section of the policy to ensure you have full and complete coverage, or use a terms and conditions generator online.

4. Stay vigilant

Legal implications aside, the theft of your intellectual property can have hugely negative effects on your brand—and particularly your market share. If gone unnoticed and unchecked, your stolen IP and branding could carve into your customer base and revenue. It could take years to recover completely from those losses, if ever.

It is extremely important to stay vigilant and monitor your competitors for potential thievery. However, constant monitoring of other sites and businesses is an arduous and time-consuming task.

Luckily, there is software out there that can aid in the battle against IP theft. This software scours the internet for potential matches with your brand and reports back with any infringements. It frees you up to focus on other business matters.

There are also intellectual property agents you can hire to help with the process. They are often licensed attorneys who are trained in intellectual property law. While these agents will be more expensive than computer software (or doing it yourself), the services they offer may end up being invaluable to your brand and the longevity of your business.

Your brand and the intellectual property associated with it are extremely valuable and worth protecting. Litigation and legal proceedings are last resorts, and they shouldn’t be relied on to keep your brand safe. While it’s impossible to completely eradicate theft online, these are fundamental steps you can take to safeguard your investment and give you peace of mind.

The internet has made brand management much more involved now that there are so many digital channels for customers to communicate through.

Customers now have the ability to voice their opinions—and they really want to be heard. In essence, brand management is about managing those conversations while nurturing a positive perception at the same time.

Consider this: 93% of customers read online reviews regularly, and nearly 80% of those customers are actually influenced by this online research.

Your online presence is a powerful weapon for your brand. Are you wielding it responsibly? Here are 4 tips for managing an online brand effectively.

1. Actively monitor your brand

You can’t participate in conversations that you don’t know are happening. It’s important to actively monitor what’s being said about you online, along with metrics that provide a broad overview of how your brand is doing.

Luckily, there are a lot of tools out there that will alert you when your brand is mentioned.

From setting up classic Google Alerts to more in-depth tools like BuzzSumo’s brand monitoring feature, there are plenty of ways to make sure you’re part of the conversation.

Additionally, keep a close eye on the first page of Google results when you type in your brand name.

The other critical piece of active monitoring is that you actually respond when your brand is mentioned, especially when it comes to negative criticism. Respond quickly and honestly, keeping in mind that it’s just as important to be authentically human as it is to maintain brand voice.

Keep track of your online analytics, both for your website and your social media pages. Together, this will give you fuller insight into how your content is performing and whether it’s truly resonating with your audience. Traffic, time on page, and bounce rate are all good indicators to keep an eye on. Be on the watch for any negative fluctuations or downward trends.

2. Continuously encourage customers to write reviews

As we know, customer reviews are hugely influential in shoppers’ buying decisions and for your brand overall. Remember, nearly 85% of people trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Let your customers become your brand ambassadors by continuously seeking out more customer reviews.

Some brands—especially startups—are hesitant about asking for customer reviews because they’re afraid of criticism that could hurt their growth in its early stages.

By and large, if you offer a solid product or service and provide great customer service, negative reviews won’t be the norm. But, when you are met with negative feedback, do your best to welcome it. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, negative feedback can be the most valuable feedback you get—if you let it. It provides insight into areas of your business that need improvement. Again, responding quickly and honestly can do a lot to sway a customer back into your good graces.

Overall, the more reviews you have, the better. Unfortunately, 77% of customers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant. Gathering reviews has to be a continuous process on your part.

Don’t hesitate to ask customers for reviews; most will be happy to provide one when asked. But, you must be proactive and ask. One great way to do this is to set up an automated system that periodically emails your customers to ask for a review—for example, after they’ve made a purchase. This is a great way to earn reviews and increase positive perceptions of your brand.

3. Always address customer concerns on social media

A surprising number of businesses don’t address customer complaints on social media and elsewhere. This is a potentially deadly mistake, not only when it comes to addressing that individual customer but many potential customers who are watching these interactions online.

The risk of ignoring that customer? There’s a 27% chance they may never do business with you again.

The same survey linked above found that 88% of customers would be less likely to buy from a company who has unanswered complaints on social media.

Silence can be deadly for your brand, so respond quickly.

4. Brand consistency is key, even online

Your website and social media profiles are extensions of your brand—for some, they may represent the entire business. The importance of brand consistency transcends the physical world and extends to your online presence.

The brand is often a company’s biggest asset, and a lack of consistency will make your brand less memorable and less trustworthy.

Keep everyone on the same page with clear guidelines regarding design elements, fonts, colors, logos and so on, and make it easy to maintain brand compliance. Don’t forget, your brand is also communicated in the content your employees create. So, whether it’s through a brand style guide or through branded templates, empower everyone on your team to maintain consistency.

Your employees can be very powerful brand ambassadors, but they must have the support, tools and know-how to do it.

Key takeaway

Customer voices are becoming louder. This is a good thing.

At the same time, it’s vital for brands to manage their online presences effectively. Ignoring complaints or participating poorly in conversations is not a sustainable strategy. You must be a strong, active advocate for your brand—and give your customers and employees the power to become brand advocates as well.

Sometimes, change is a good thing.

A fresh lick of paint can revive a dull living room, a new haircut can boost self-esteem, and a rejuvenated image can bring life back to an outdated brand.

The catch is that, unlike changing your hairstyle, a brand refresh isn’t something to do on a whim because you’re bored or haven’t had a chance to play with your design software in a while. Without a solid strategy, your renovation could turn into a DIY disaster.

When you’re considering a brand refresh, start by asking a few honest questions:

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why a brand refresh might be the right choice for your company today.

Is my brand outdated? Separating the dynamite from the dinosaurs

Perhaps the most obvious reason to refresh a brand is that its image has simply outgrown its effectiveness. IBM is a great example of a brand that’s successfully evolved its image to match the changing nature of its product portfolio. By adapting its visual identity and voice throughout the decades, IBM has shown it can stand up against modern competitors.

IBM brand refresh

This IBM logo offers a look back at the brand’s history

IBM rebrand

A selection of icons designed for IBM’s centennial

Many enterprises struggle to make changes because an old brand can gradually start to feel like an old pair of shoes-sturdy and comfortable. Unfortunately, you will need to make changes eventually if you want to be seen as an authority in your space, rather than a relic. Here are a few ways to check whether your brand is becoming outdated:

Microsoft brand refresh

A timeline of Microsoft’s evolving logo design

Refreshing vs. rebranding

It’s easy to confuse a rebrand with a brand refresh, but ultimately, they serve two different purposes. A company rebrand is an extensive endeavor that involves completely removing the basic structure of the brand and starting over. A company typically only pursues this strategy if the current brand identity is confusing, contradictory or misrepresents the core of the company’s mission. A brand refresh, however, involves updating and building upon the brand structure that is already known and loved. Rather than a complete overhaul, it involves an update to visual elements, tweaks to messaging or changes to other differentiators.

5 practical reasons to refresh your brand

A brand is more than just a name and a logo. It’s also your company’s reputation, identity, and public perception. In many cases, companies recognize the need for change but want to preserve the brand’s positive aspects. With that thought in mind, here are 5 reasons you might consider updating the brand rather than undergoing a full rebrand.

1. You aren’t getting enough attention

A great brand doesn’t just generate an image for your company; it gives your customers a reason to sit up and take notice. There are plenty of ways to tell whether your audience has moved on from your message, and the first is that you’ve seen a steady decline in sales.

If people are just as happy with your products as they’ve always been, but you’re not gaining ground in the market, this could be a sign that your brand has lost its selling potential.

Remember, refreshing your brand doesn’t involve turning your identity upside down. Instead, it can be something as simple as redesigning your logo, unrolling a new slogan, or switching to a new color palette. It’s giving your audience something new to chew on while sticking to your brand’s core values. [Tweet this]

The power is completely in your hands.

2. You don’t stand out from the competition any more

Making an impact is hard in today’s saturated online marketplace—and copycats are running wild. Even if you have a great product or service, it won’t be enough if customers can’t distinguish your brand from the other players in your niche. You’ve got to stay ahead of the pack.

If your brand image is starting to feel like a copy-paste job, then you’re going to need new and unique ways to recapture your audience’s interest.

This can be a complex process because it means getting to the bottom of what your company stands for, what it can do today, and how it outshines your competitors. If you can find a way to differentiate yourself, you’ll find it much easier to drive brand awareness and loyalty.

3. Your company has changed

A founder’s initial vision and the company that grows out of it aren’t always one and the same. Sometimes, a brand is born with a particular product in mind—like Starbucks and its signature coffee. Then, as the business continues to grow, it’ll develop new products to better serve its audience.

Over the years, Starbucks has updated its product list to include everything from sandwiches to iced tea. These changes meant that the company had to reimagine the brand’s image based on what they could offer customers in a new marketplace.

As the business evolves, keep an eye on your brand and take note of any constraints that might make it difficult to branch out into new areas.

Starbucks brand refresh

Starbucks has evolved to serve much more than coffee

4. Your message is inconsistent

For most companies, building a brand is about refining ideas and values into a voice and image that they can project to the world. As you can imagine, this is a complicated process that even the best of intentions can belie.

A brand refresh can help to realign your company’s values when they start to lose their way. After all, we know how valuable brand consistency is—not just to your customers’ experience, but also to your bottom line. If you want your brand to become a trusted name, then you’ve got to deliver the same, familiar experience whenever customers interact with you.

5. You want to attract new customers

When a brand is just getting started, it’s often easier to target a small, niche audience. However, as the brand grows, it’ll find opportunities to expand into different areas that offer new sources of revenue.

Sometimes, tapping into a new share of the market requires changing your voice or image so it’s more likely to appeal to a wider range of customers. A brand refresh can help you reimagine what the future looks like for the company.

Apple brand refresh

Apple excels at making its brand & products feel fresh. Remember these?

Is it time to refresh your brand?

Ultimately, the decision to refresh your brand can be a difficult one, but it’s worth thinking about when your current image isn’t delivering the results you need.

In severe cases, you might discover that the best way to bring your company back to life is a complete rebrand, where you go back to the drawing board and start fresh. While a rebrand is a more dramatic approach, a refresh allows companies to make tweaks over time that help their brand evolve with the market.

Considering a brand overhaul? Grab a free guide to conducting a rebrand

Jeff Bezos once said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Your brand identity is the essence of your brand. It’s who you are, what you do, and how people describe your brand, based on the way you make them feel.

The problem is, people don’t always trust brands. They inherently don’t believe the identity you’re selling them is who you really are. That’s why you need to reach out to relevant influencers to validate the brand identity you’ve built.

Influencers reflect your brand identity

Just as you use a consistent voice and imagery across your content, the way influencers talk about your brand should sound like they are talking about the same person.

If multiple friends shared posts about a single friend online, you’d be able to tell who that person is. Likewise, when multiple influencers share posts about your brand, your brand identity should be clear.

When a person zooms out and views your various influencers as a group, the picture should make sense. Maybe they are all in the same age group, from the same city, or share a similar interest.

The most basic influencer marketing program would have a Venn diagram with one thing in the middle that all the influencers share. However, as your influencer marketing program grows and matures, you can envision several chains of interconnected circles that all tie together.

Lululemon’s ambassador program includes a diverse group of individuals from foodies to snowboarders to dance instructors, but they all share one thing in common: a life devoted to being fit.

How to build brand identity with influencer marketing

Work with the right influencers

You know the saying, “You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep”? The same goes for brands. None of your influencer choices should seem jarring to someone who heard about you from another influencer.

That’s why it’s critical to do your research up front. This keeps you from running into problems of discrepancy; if you sell business software, it will come off as insincere—or worse, desperate—if you have a fashion blogger chatting you up. Your influencer’s personality and niche should match, or at least mesh with your brand, as someone you would associate with.

If your brand was a person, would they run in the same social circles as your influencer? Even if they might not do everything together, it makes sense for a fitness vlogger to promote a pet-sitting service if they regularly travel to weightlifting competitions.

Align your brand with specific types of influencers

If your brand is suffering from a case of poor brand identity, one way to fix that is strategically partnering with a targeted set of influencers. Of course, these influencers should overlap with your customer audience, and their values should jibe with your brand’s. But, a focused campaign can help your brand become known as “that one all the [fill-in-the-blank] bloggers love.”

This is a good strategy for breaking into a new niche or vertical. If your product is extremely specific, this strategy can work wonders. Your association with a niche set of influencers will quickly spread your name among potential customers and solidify your legitimacy within the community.

Take Royal Caribbean for example. Cruises have traditionally been viewed as a travel option for the over-50 age set. The cruise line wanted to attract more millennials, so they partnered with Periscoping travel bloggers via an influencer livestream campaign.

How to boost brand identity with influencer marketing

Give influencers what they need

The better that influencers understand your goals, as well as the ins and outs of your service, the better they can promote you. Give them what they need to understand your product. Then, they can create promotional content that feels authentic, rather than a one-size-fits-all sales pitch slapped on a pretty picture. You can guess which one is more effective.

Use influencers to make your brand real. Ask them to highlight how your free sample felt personalized to their needs or was delivered in a special way. Suggest that they talk about how your product solved a specific problem for them, or request that they mention an employee they spoke with at a store or over the phone.

Just as the laughs you share with a new friend help your relationship blossom, these little details are what shape a consumer’s relationship with your brand.

Key takeaway

The great thing about brand identity is that the more people talk about it, the stronger it becomes. [Tweet this] And when those people are influencers, it becomes stronger even faster. If you have a solid brand identity, it might be time to find influencers who can help you drive awareness and adoption.

For brands, few objectives matter more than creating an impactful, positive impression. Because, if you can make a favorable first impression, it’s inevitable that good conversation — about your brand — will follow.

Now, keeping that conversation in your favor can be tricky. Ultimately, you want to maintain a consistent brand message and voice across all content. If the tone, voice, or visual experience is at all inconsistent, your target audience will likely become confused and you’ll lose their attention, thus impacting sales and customer retention. When your target audience doesn’t know who you are or what you do, it’s tough to expect them to remember or come back to you.

So what should you do to make sure your brand doesn’t take an unintended fork in the road? Well, here are a few strategies that make developing brand consistency easy for your sales organization.

Share a message that resonates

Want to stand out from the crowd? Start by zeroing in on your target audience with a message that speaks directly to what they want and what they need. Take customer feedback, pushback, pain points and reviews seriously — these are all goldmines for messaging information.

Communicate a clear brand message across the board with marketing (from print ads to social media) to sales (from initial pitch to closing time). Figure out who you want to reach with your message, then focus your energies on reaching that audience again and again.

Once you find a message that works, you ought to stick with it. Oftentimes, brands will tinker with a message too much and everything gets lost in translation, meaning the messaging loses focus and purpose. 

Personalize the content experience

You want to highlight why your brand is uniquely positioned to solve the problem your prospective customer is experiencing. In other words, you want to give your customers good reasons to go with your brand over a competitor. 

For instance, if your brand voice feels unique, you can progress up the sales food chain. If you don’t find ways to be unique, you get devoured by the latest trendy new thing. Alternatively, we’d recommend personalizing your customer’s content experience. Not only does this help you stand out in a crowd, but it showcases that you “see” your customers. 

In your sales enablement content, be sure to focus on your strengths. A big mistake with branding is trying to do too much. It isn’t an effective strategy to be a jack-of-all-trades with all people. Your brand’s voice and content experience should be clear, compelling, unique and believable in each interaction with its target audience.

Offer influence and support outside of the buyer’s journey

Your brand voice is defined by how people see it. Influencing how people perceive your organization or your products is as important as getting consumers to buy from you — everything from demos to packaging impacts your brand’s overall perception.

Social media can be a powerful tool for crafting and shaping your relationships. Interacting with consumers and potential consumers can make it easier for you to create a conversation or gain quick insights about what you can do better. Social media channels are an incubator for ideas and will spur growth for your organization if used in the right way. They’re a great way to engage with customers and make your brand feel accessible.

Be prepared to enforce brand guidelines

If your marketing team is worth its snuff, it’s already created brand style and usage guidelines to ensure all messaging and visuals stay consistent. These guides cover how to use various brand assets in internal and external communications — including which fonts and colors to use, or the correct logos and slogans. 

Guides like these not only help your organization’s marketing team, but they also serve as a useful reference for other employees, managers and departments — including sales — looking to create their own content. Ultimately, brand guides should align with your organization’s overall vision and mission. Brand consistency is much easier to achieve when grounded in the core principles that drive your organization.

So, always refer back to your brand guidelines and be prepared to enforce them when developing sales content and planning your outreach efforts. Customers will find you through more than one channel, which means multiple avenues exist to make an excellent first impression. Creating brand consistency across all of these channels is essential to ensure your brand stays memorable and top of mind.

Streamline branded content creation with Lucidpress

Lucidpress makes it a simple task to create a uniform brand identity and empower others in your sales org to create on-brand, professional-looking content. Plus, easy-to-use features like a drag-and-drop editor and advanced template locking take the learning curve out of designing. 

So whether you’re publishing or updating a brochure, newsletter, one-pager, slide deck — or any other material your sales team needs — you can count on Lucidpress to ensure materials get to where they need to go, quickly.

Learn more about how to achieve consistent storytelling across your sales org in our free sales enablement workbook.

In real estate, it matters a lot what people think about your agency. We can all agree that, as businesses, we crave trust and loyalty from our customers. If these two traits are absent, success becomes much harder (if not impossible) to achieve.

The consistency of your brand has a huge impact on what people think. If your real estate brand is constantly changing, people will see you as less honest and reliable. On the other hand, if your message is consistent and validates your brand promise, it’s easier to build trust with your audience and earn their loyalty.

So, where can you deliver this messaging? In real estate, there are several areas where you can achieve remarkable brand consistency. Here are five of them.

Property listings

Great property listings contain three elements: property data, description and photographs. Of these, the description accounts for the largest portion of the listing, so focus your efforts there. Write compelling descriptions complete with all the features and benefits anyone looking for that specific property would find valuable.

Each potential buyer has a particular set of expectations. If the description you write helps them evaluate the property against their expectations and make better decisions, that will set the foundation for a solid relationship with your real estate brand.

As you write, remember that brand assets like tone, voice, taglines & logos should always be consistent, and that your message should align with your brand’s goals as well as the needs of your target audience.

If you want to be the go-to real estate agency in your area, show your audience that you really know and understand the communities you serve.

Sometimes you’ll encounter potential home buyers who aren’t familiar with the area, and if you can become a dependable local resource for them, you’ll develop a trusting and loyal relationship.

Focus on what makes the neighborhood special and what homeowners usually consider when looking for a property. This could mean schools, hospitals, weather, culture, parks and local attractions. You could also request testimonials from people who live in the area and include them in your listings. Videos and photographs are great additions, too.

Responsive web design

Build consistency into how your website functions across all devices, from phones and tablets to computers. Regardless of how a person accesses your real estate website, the user experience should be cohesive and well-designed. If it’s not, your visitors could easily turn away.

Remember, your brand largely depends on how people view your business. If they can’t comfortably access your website on their tablet or mobile device, they will likely feel impatient and turn to your competition to get their needs met.

Without responsive design, visitors will wonder whether your real estate brand is old-fashioned, and they might assume you’re not up-to-date with new trends and technology. Instead, keep those visitors coming back by offering a consistent, excellent browsing experience tailored to their needs.

Pictures & video

We live in a visual culture. In real estate, this is supported by the fact that 83% of home buyers expect to view pictures of available properties, whether it’s through print marketing, a website or social media. [Tweet this]

Your brand stands to benefit if your visuals come across well and emphasize points of interest. Photos should always be high quality and leave a strong, positive impression. Spend a little time learning best practices for real estate photography before hiring a photographer or taking photos yourself.

Video has evolved with trends like personalization and technology like interactive videos, 360 videos, and VR videos that are more immersive for the viewer. For maximum visibility, you can share them across multiple channels: your website, online video platforms, and social media. For example, here’s a video we made with the help of a few real estate clients:

Social media profiles

There’s no doubt that a huge portion of realtors (91%, in fact) use social media—and so do your potential buyers. Your social media presence will inevitably have a significant impact on how your brand is perceived.

The logos, colors & visuals used on your social media profiles will affect how your audience perceives and remembers you. Tone and voice are important, too—conflicting messages will confuse customers and dilute your brand.

Of course, authenticity and humanity are also important to social media users. Make it your goal to give your brand a unique identity and personality that your followers can easily relate to. This will help you cultivate a loyal following and stand out from your competitors.

Key takeaway

Brand consistency is about getting your audience to trust you. The five areas covered here hold a great amount of power to keep your brand consistent. Each plays a special role in getting clients to call you, to pay attention to your message, and to look forward to working with you again.

Your brand matters. Learn how to protect and elevate your real estate brand in this branding essentials guidebook.

Brand management is one of the most important parts of marketing. It can take a long time and a lot of work to create a brand image that people like and trust, but in an instant, all that work can be completely undone. There are certain situations businesses have to deal with that, if not handled properly, can severely damage the brand’s image. Here are a few common situations and how you should respond.

Problem #1: Having poor customer support

If you look up any public polls or surveys that list companies with the worst ratings, one of the biggest reasons is due to poor customer support. If someone calls you with a problem they’re having with your brand’s products or service, you will make a bad situation worse by making it difficult for them to get help from you. [Tweet this]

Bad support is a good way of burning a bridge not just with that customer, but with their friends and family, too. After that, there’s more damage to worry about if they vocalize their discontent on social media.

To respond to this situation, you need to overhaul and clean up every line of communication between you and your customers:

The longer customers wait to get the help they want, the more annoyed they’ll be. They should be able to contact you quickly and easily. Most importantly, they should receive a useful response that resolves their problem. Auto-response emails and phone messages are simply not good enough in situations where your real customers are involved.

Problem #2: Failing to live up to your brand image

If you build your brand image around certain promises or guarantees for your customers, you had darn well better deliver on those promises and guarantees every single time. If you say you have the cheapest products, you’d better have the cheapest products. If you offer the quickest service, your service had better be very quick. If you have a satisfaction, money-back guarantee, then you need to take your customers’ dissatisfaction seriously and mitigate their concerns or issue a refund. Nothing can ruin a brand’s image like being inconsistent in living up to its own standards and promises.

If your company’s brand is starting to take a hit due to this, you need to take immediate steps. Get all hands on deck and start generating as much positive brand awareness as you can. The best way to do this is by delivering on the promises you make.

In the short term, that means doing what you can to raise your brand’s reputation, and in the long term, it might be shifting your brand’s image to something more realistic. For instance, if your business is not able to offer the cheapest products, change your marketing to start offering the friendliest service instead.

Problem #3: Getting negative attention from an employee

It is an unfortunate reality that how your employees behave, even when they’re off the clock, can reflect back on your brand. If they’re caught on the news, in a newspaper, or online behaving in an unethical manner—or even just in poor taste—your brand can get negative publicity from it. That’s why so many businesses include clauses in the employment contract regarding “off-duty conduct.”

From a brand image perspective, what should you do in this situation? First, be open and transparent to the public so they don’t think you’re covering anything up. Apologize to anyone affected by your employee’s actions, both publicly and in private. Second, look into how you are legally allowed to handle the employee based on that specific situation.

Finally, you need to be seen responding against the negative behavior in question. For example, if the employee went on a racist rant online, you can donate or form a partnership with an anti-racism organization and/or hold special seminars and training to improve tolerance in your company.

Problem #4: Offering a poor website experience

In today’s world, you cannot afford to have a bad website. The design can’t look old and dated; the navigation can’t be poorly structured so customers can’t find what they’re looking for; and the functionality can’t be compromised so they’re unable to perform important actions, such as completing a lead form on your site, completing an online purchase, or simply entering the buying cycle.

Even if your business is running smoothly otherwise, having a bad website that creates a poor user experience can really hurt your brand’s image. It can set a bad first impression if your users’ first interaction with your business is through a dysfunctional website.

The first thing you need to do is fix your website, of course. Upgrade the design or fix your theme and template, rearrange the navigation (site architecture) so it makes sense for your end-user, and fix any bugs or broken pages so that your visitors don’t get any site errors telling them your website pages cannot be found (404).

The next thing is investing in search engine optimization (SEO), then promoting the heck out of it. Create special promotions for the re-launch, start digital paid ad campaigns intended to drive new traffic to the new website, and retarget traffic from your old site back to the new site so they can see the difference.

Problem #5: Receiving a bad customer review

All of the above situations often lead to a customer leaving a bad review for your business online—on Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, and other websites where customers review businesses. The worst thing you can do is ignore a bad review.

If reviews pile up and you don’t respond properly, your customers will assume you don’t care about them or their business, causing other people who look up your reviews to form a bad impression of your brand.

Make sure your business has an account on every major review website that your business gets reviewed on, and monitor them regularly.

When you see a bad review, take the information in the review and find out what happened before responding to it. Sometimes, the customer could be lying or omitting the truth, and you can point that out to tell your side of the story. Other times, your business legitimately failed the customer, but you can respond in a way that offers an apology and makes the situation right for them.

Want to know more about how to build your brand? Download our free ebook on how to build a brand in 2020.

Perception determines reality with branding. The impression you make with customers and potential customers ultimately influences the overall strength of your brand. That’s why even simple mistakes with brand consistency can create costly headaches.

Branding mistakes aren’t simply a concern affecting novice entrepreneurs taking their first steps into the marketplace. Businesses of all shapes and sizes can take missteps with their branding and lack a consistent voice or direction in their products and services.

Large companies can be especially vulnerable to the impact of brand inconsistency. It can lead to lost revenue and diminished customer loyalty. Those companies will end up yielding ground to more savvy competitors and often struggle to create a positive image and voice for their brand.

Here are 7 common brand consistency mistakes that large companies typically make. The good news is many of these mistakes are fixable or can be avoided.

1. Slow content creation

It’s no coincidence that new content seems to pop up on websites and social media channels at the speed of light. The digital age has revolutionized how we acquire information and put it right at our fingertips. Taking a slow and steady approach may win the race for the tortoise, but it doesn’t work with content creation.

If your brand is locked down to the point that it stifles new content creation, corporate marketing will turn into a bottleneck. Your brand will acquire a perception of being outdated and irrelevant within your industry. Timely and relevant content creation, on the other hand, will help put your company forward as a subject-matter expert and establishes it as a voice that customers can trust.

2. Wasted designer time

Do your designers work overtime making mundane updates to existing content, like a brochure or flyer? If that’s the case, they’re not properly utilizing their talents — and it could be limiting your company’s reach and costing you on the bottom line.

Burdening designers with too many small tasks causes the focus to slip from the bigger picture. Free them up to work on projects that incorporate their creative talents. Those creative juices flow when a designer isn’t handcuffed to simply doing brand housekeeping. Their minds are less cluttered and have room for dynamic ideas to emerge.

3. Off-brand content

Going rogue works when it comes to stealing Death Star plans. It doesn’t work with creating content. [Tweet this] Brand guidelines need to be in place for a reason. If a department is creating rogue content that doesn’t follow established brand guidelines, it can spell disaster for your company in a hurry.

Establish your brand identity and create a branding guide that adheres to that vision. Educate individual employees and managers across all departments on these guidelines, so they understand how to communicate with your target audience without going off the rails. Permitting individuals or entire departments to tweak your brand to fit their whims will undermine the brand’s integrity. Offer them plenty of resources to help them keep content on target with your brand’s voice.

4. Outdated brand assets

Few things are more embarrassing than taking the time to update your company’s logo, slogan or other key brand assets… only to see the old assets show up in your company’s messaging. That’s the risk of not keeping everyone on the same page. It can make your brand appear indecisive, outdated or out of touch.

Each department and employee should have a working knowledge of which brand assets and templates are in current use. Store these things in a central, online place and make them easily accessible for all of your brand marketing efforts. Each brand asset should be reviewed periodically to ensure it remains uniform with the core brand messaging.

5. No brand champion

Creating a consistent brand voice starts at the top. Your CMO is like the pace car leading the rest of the pack to the starting line. It falls on their shoulders to be a brand champion. Without their voice leading the way, employees will not understand the importance of strong branding and your brand will end up veering off course.

An effective brand champion at the top can steer your marketing efforts in the right direction. They set the tone for what works and what doesn’t by establishing a core vision and identity. This makes it easier to identify a natural target audience then build branding efforts around appealing to that group.

6. Branding is over-complicated

Flashier isn’t always better. Some of the most iconic brand logos, like McDonald’s or Fed-Ex, are memorable because they use a simple and clean look that’s easily identifiable. Throwing more bells and whistles into the mix isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd. If it does draw extra attention, it could be for the wrong reasons.

Avoid tossing in complicated graphics and color schemes that distract from your core message. Don’t clutter your brand. Keep it simple by using simple colors and symbols. This will give your brand a chance to communicate quality and authenticity and increase the possibility that it can stick with a person long after they are introduced to it. Using branded templates can make this an easier task to check off your company’s to-do list.

7. Not understanding your audience

Your brand will only stand out when it offers something fresh and unique. If your target audience can’t tell you apart from competitors in a meaningful way, what incentive do they have to embrace your brand, products or services? Failing to understand what makes them tick or what they want can lead to your brand’s death knell.

Make your brand timeless by building to your brand strengths. Avoid being too trendy. Embrace market research and communicate regularly with customers and potential customers alike. Resist the temptation to put your brand everywhere, and instead, focus on being sincere with what your brand does and how it can positively impact the lives of your target audience.

Want to know more about the power of brand consistency? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

At one point in time, a recognizable brand was all that was needed for a business to thrive. But now, that brand must be accompanied by trust because modern consumers are different than they were several decades ago. Today, there’s the internet and consumers can easily conduct research on a brand before they make a purchase.

In fact, they often do. Some stats suggest that 61% of consumers read reviews before they complete a purchase. They look for a reason to trust your brand before investing their hard-earned money in your product or service.

62% of Americans actually believe corruption is widespread in corporate America, so it’s safe to say that trust in corporations and big brands is lacking. Companies need to be careful so that they earn a trusted reputation. But there are also great opportunities to amplify what consumers are saying online to build trust for your brand.

Here’s some ways you can build brand trust online.

Provide valuable content

As the saying goes: content is king. Quality content can do a lot for a company, whether it’s on your website, blog or social media. It sets you up as an authoritative voice and, hopefully, a thought leader.

To write content that will benefit your brand, do some research to see what your competitors are doing. Then, create content that fills in the gaps they’ve left. Make your content more detailed, engaging and better in any way you can. This will prove you are the authority in the industry.

Keep in mind the 80/20 rule for your content creation: 80% of your content should be useful and non-promotional while the other 20% can talk about your product. This will engage consumers and prove to them that their wants and needs are a priority for you. Keep this in mind when posting to social media, writing a blog post or creating a video.

By providing reliable and insightful content, rather than a sales pitch, you’ll nurture a sense of trust in your brand.

Dove’s viral campaign “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” is an excellent example of this concept. Most of the video is about how women perceive themselves. The ad doesn’t mention Dove products, it simply finishes with the brand’s logo as a reminder of the company behind the message.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Source: Dove.com

IKEA is another example of a company creating useful content. The authentic Swedish brand added to its trusted reputation with its “Make Small Spaces Big” campaign, which provided tips and creative ideas to make better use of small spaces… information that is both valuable and relevant to its audience.

IKEA Make Small Spaces Big

Engage customers in two-way communication

Consumers today like to be engaged and have relationships with brands. If you can do this, you’ll build trust. Social media is a way for modern companies to respond personally to individual consumers, and by doing so, these companies contribute to their own mouth-to-mouth marketing. One consumer impressed by a company’s communication can quickly go viral and generate positive press coverage.

Building brand trust online
How to build brand trust online

Source: Twitter

To engage customers successfully, you need to interact with them on a regular basis. You must have a solid, active presence on social media. You need to monitor your pages for comments, questions or complaints and respond personally and appropriately. Be responsive and start conversations, and you’ll be able to build a positive relationship with consumers.

The IT networking company Cisco understands the importance of online engagement and offers its customers various avenues for interaction. In fact, the company claims it saved $200 million annually by moving its engagement efforts online. Cisco blogs, chats via Google+, has a full Facebook support page with more than 800,000 followers, uses LinkedIn and has even won awards for its customer support.

Building this rapport and being within reach of your customers is important to building a reputation as a trusted brand.

Host live video events

Whether you host a Q&A on Facebook Live, a demo on Periscope, or a webinar on your own website, live video events are a great way to build trust online. They require a lot of planning but can be very effective. There’s something about the unedited aspect that really motivates interest. Customers can engage and ask questions while they watch. And as it’s live, they know the answer they’re getting hasn’t been given a stamp of approval by the PR department, so it’s a great way to build trust with fans.

Keep your brand consistent

There’s nothing like going off-message to destroy a brand. From your logo and brand colors, to your tone and personality, you must be consistent in everything you do and say. [Tweet this] A brand playbook can help you maintain the right voice, while brand management tools like Lucidpress can help your documents and content look consistent all the time, no matter how many people are on your marketing team. Consistency is also great for building brand awareness and recognition, as people will come to recognize your brand’s unique style.

Encourage user-generated content

Today, millennials in particular are using social media to discuss brands they like, and this can be important for companies looking to build trust. In one survey, 76% of millennial consumers said that content shared by average people is more trustworthy than what brands share. In another study, 92% of people said they trust the recommendations of other people, even ones they don’t know, over branded content.

User-generated content is a great opportunity for your business to show how real people are enjoying your products and build some serious brand trust.

Make sure to share these endorsements on social—Starbucks is constantly doing this. You can also actively highlight this content on your testimonials page, blog or, like Zappos, create a specific destination for this content.

Ways to build brand trust online

Source: Twitter

Beyond your everyday customers, let other trusted sources advocate for you. You can highlight collaborations with other trusted brands, work with an influencer relevant to your industry, or share media coverage from reputable sources to build trust.

Links are an important asset for any business as they connect your brand with the online world. Whatever link you’re sharing, make sure it leads to a reputable website. Refer to fact-driven sources in your blog posts, industry favorites for your curated content, and always use branded links on social media so followers have an indication of what it is they’re clicking on.

Branded links are made up of a custom domain name and a keyword in the slashtag. By associating your links with your brand, users know it won’t lead to spam or phishing sites and this increased trust can boost click-through rates by up to 39%.

Encourage user reviews

You should encourage your customers to provide reviews of your products or services online. Even a bad review can be used as an opportunity to testify to your company’s transparency and demonstrate your responsiveness and willingness to turn that negative customer experience into a positive one.

By encouraging reviews, your brand will show you care about what your customers think and are confident in the quality of what you’re selling. Often, before committing to a purchase, consumers will check how your company is rated on Facebook, Yelp and other review sites. If they can see at a glance that you’re close to a 5-star rating, they’ll be converted in seconds.

Make sure your brand acts responsibly

According to Forbes, millennials feel strongly about affecting change, and a lot of this is done online. They expect companies to be socially responsible, too, so if your brand is doing its part, make sure you let your audience know. Whether you’re reducing your carbon footprint, taking steps to ensure gender equality, or raising funds for a good cause, share the news online. This will build your image as a noble brand that can be trusted by its customers.

Key takeaway

Providing compelling content, interacting with customers, and maintaining brand consistency is essential to building a brand that people trust.

Today, your brand isn’t simply what you say it is, but rather a reflection of consumer trust in your product or service. You have the ability to develop that trust online and turn it into a powerful marketing tool for your business. It takes work and planning, getting involved and interacting, but it has the potential to cultivate lasting trust that will build brand loyalty and benefit your business into the future.

Want to know more about the power of brand consistency? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

Three years ago, Gartner predicted that 30% of our interactions with technology today would happen via conversations with smart machines—and mainstream adoption would be just around the corner.

We can see the evidence of this change all around us, from Siri and Cortana to Alexa and Google Home. And while we haven’t reached mainstream adoption quite yet, marketers shouldn’t wait for the masses to catch up before grappling with the implications of voice search.

In particular, voice search represents a move from the abstract to the physical. Certain aspects of your brand—voice, tone, personality—will soon become real in ways they never have before. Just like mass marketing has shifted into digital marketing, we’re now seeing the dawn of conversational marketing with voice search. Here are five factors that show how voice search will impact your brand.

1. Copy that can be read aloud

As more people turn to smart machines to ask questions, brands should be prepared to respond in kind. Creatives will have to write copy that sounds good when read out loud—often in the form of answering a question. Offer the most important information first (remember the inverted pyramid?), and for goodness sakes, keep it brief and unambiguous.

For example, in an older blog post of ours, we discuss the definition of branding. If someone were to ask “What is branding?” today, our blog post would respond like this:

To begin to understand what a brand is, you must first understand that your brand does not exist in your marketing department, your public relations team, or your CEO’s office…

And as pretty as it looks on the page, no one is going to stick around to listen to that. Instead, our response should get straight to the point. Again, from the post:

A brand is the sum total of all the impressions a customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company and your products.

If we wanted to optimize this content for voice search, we could restructure it intelligently by putting the important data first. Then, we have plenty of space for the kind of writing that’s meant to be read rather than spoken aloud.

Finally, keep in mind that voice search is more conversational than traditional search. The queries are longer, and they’re often localized (e.g. “What’s the weather like today?” or “When does The Copper Onion close tonight?”). Your responses should follow suit, mimicking how real people talk (including conversational phrases).

2. New advertising rules

With new advertising mediums come new advertising guidelines. This doesn’t just mean best practices, like we see with paid and organic digital search. We’ll also see big players in voice search (like Google) establishing new rules for brands who want in.

Remember this voice ad from Burger King last year? The commercial was designed to hijack your Google Home device by asking “What is the Whopper burger?” This request prompts devices to begin reading the Wikipedia entry for the Whopper—which, of course, Burger King had edited to their benefit.

The Whopper is a burger, consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100 percent beef with no preservatives or fillers, topped with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise, served on a sesame-seed bun.

Oh, be quiet, already!

Burger King Whopper voice ad

My feelings exactly.

Not only did this violate Wikipedia’s terms because it so clearly sounds like ad copy, it also left open the door to vandalism. People were quick to edit the Wikipedia entry to include phrases like “cancer-causing” and ingredients like “toenail clippings.” Not exactly what the fine folks at Burger King had in mind.

Even when the ad worked as intended, people were annoyed by the tactic—but online trolls had made it so, so much worse. It should come as no surprise that Google shut down the ad 3 hours later, and Burger King pulled it entirely.

Consumers aren’t used to advertising in voice search yet. Take care not to annoy them with lengthy descriptions or aggressive sales pitches—and follow the terms and guidelines of the services you use.

3. What does my brand sound like?

Today, Alexa always sounds like Alexa, but it’s not hard to imagine a future where voice search becomes highly customized. Brands will be able to choose their own vocal characteristics, which opens up a world of questions and considerations.

If your brand was a real person, what would they sound like? How would you determine:

What does my brand sound like?

Source: Pexels

Some of these characteristics even raise ethical considerations—like gender, for example. According to OnBrand’s State of Branding report, 54% of marketers prefer a female voice assistant (while only 17% prefer a male). Nearly all the voice assistants we’re familiar with today default to female voices, which raises the question why.

“The simplest explanation is that people are conditioned to expect women, not men, to be in administrative roles—and that the makers of digital assistants are influenced by these social expectations,” says Adrienne Lafrance in an article for The Atlantic. Power structures influence our technology all the time, and it’s important for brands to consider these traits (and their impact) carefully.

In the mean time, it’s likely that female voices will continue to answer most consumers’ vocal commands. How can masculine brands compensate for this—punch up their language, perhaps?

4. Consistency matters

Voice search does not alter the impact of brand consistency, but it does present new channels to manage. Once you’ve decided what your brand sounds like, it’s important to convey that across all channels and communication. Voice and tone need to remain consistent for the brand to be distinct and recognizable.

After you’ve set the tone and refined your brand voice, go back and make sure it’s reflected everywhere:

Interesting note about chatbots: If your brand already has one, you might be ahead of the game. Because chatbots are designed to be conversational, they can help to inform your strategy for voice search. Look to them for guidance as you explore this brave new world!

5. First-mover advantages

And now, the good news. Because voice search has yet to reach mass adoption, there’s still plenty of time to move into the space before other brands catch up. It’s a rare opportunity to reap first-mover advantages without being one of the big, established brands.

“Given that many people are currently rather disappointed with their voice search interactions, the first brand to create a genuinely standout experience is going to garner a lot of excitement,” says Rob Curran in this article for Campaign. And like we’ve seen with other new mediums like augmented reality, it’s only a matter of time before someone does. Could it be you?

Key takeaway

Equal parts scary and exciting, the adoption of voice search represents enormous opportunity for savvy marketers. With it, you can deliver a digital brand experience that’s more personal and human-like than ever before—and hopefully, one that’s consistent with your brand messaging. Drive the conversation and address these factors now to enjoy the benefits while we head into the next decade.

Want to know more about the power of brand consistency? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

Bonus: Voice search infographic

Want to share these insights with your followers? We’ve adapted the main points of this article into a sharable infographic perfect for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Voice search infographic

Protecting your brand—not only how it looks but also how it’s perceived—is essential.

Your brand is everything that makes up how your customers see you, and if you’re not presenting a consistent message across the board, you run the risk of confusing, alienating or even frustrating your customers. On top of that, you’re missing out on the opportunity to establish your brand and grow recognition, authority and trust.

If you’re operating in a multi-location company with staff working in various departments, establishing a process to ensure brand compliance is key.

Where once a central marketing team might have created and controlled all marketing output, we’re now working in a much more democratic and fast-paced world. Branding, content and communications can’t just sit with one team anymore; it’s become a multi-player, multi-platform game that almost everyone in your company is involved in.

So when artistic license, so to speak, is given far and wide, how do you ensure consistency across the board—especially when it comes to multi-location branding?

How to ensure brand compliance

For many companies, frequent barriers to brand compliance include:

Luckily, with a growing list of new approaches to these old problems, the future of your brand looks bright.

Ramp up your brand compliance efforts by employing these two fail-safe strategies.

Create and implement brand compliance guidelines

With the creation of effective and detailed brand compliance guidelines, you’re dramatically improving your company’s chances of consistency.

Our report on the importance of brand consistency revealed that companies are twice as likely to see a consistent presentation of their brand when formal brand guidelines are in place and enforced.

A typical set of brand guidelines will cover:

The goal with your brand guidelines isn’t to limit the creativity of your marketers and designers, but to give them a set of guidelines to work within. There should still be plenty of opportunity for them to come up with new and exciting ideas that comply.

When it comes to enforcing brand guidelines, you’ll do a whole lot better if you can take away the challenges your people face.

As an absolute minimum, make sure the guidelines are easy to follow and centrally stored so that everyone—including partners—can access them without hassle.

The next step is to support all your people (not just your designers) by providing the resources they need to comply. With clear guidelines and easy processes, you’re leaving little room for error.

Create shared resources & customizable content templates

This strategy—known as distributed marketing management—is becoming an increasingly popular option for growing organizations who take brand compliance seriously.

Rather than relying on an overworked design team to churn out request after request (often with a lengthy turnaround time), customizable templates put some of the responsibility back with the individual or local team.

A modern brand management system such as Marq will empower local marketers and salespeople to create their own content and campaigns that still adhere to brand guidelines.

With the introduction of innovative software like Marq, you’ll get the following benefits:

With a system like this in place, you’re giving your people the power to act quickly and take advantage of local opportunities without compromising brand compliance.

Further, by opening this process up to your partners and affiliates, you see even more rewards. When you can give them access to brand guidelines and templates that are locked down, they’ll have more independence when it comes to collaborating and cross-promoting. All without putting extra pressure on your marketing team.

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

Key takeaway

Total brand compliance is achievable, but it takes forward-planning, smart software and well-thought-out processes. To give your brand the best chance of success, create and enforce formal brand guidelines and implement a central system for sharing on-brand resources and customizable templates.

Instead of trying (and failing) to do everything for your people, give them the guidance and tools they need to do things for themselves.

Newcomers to the world of brand awareness marketing often feel overwhelmed or utterly lost. There’s a veritable plethora of channels, tactics & tools to explore. To make things even more difficult, some make much more sense for your business than others, depending on a matrix of circumstances.

Before jumping into a brand awareness campaign, remember to ask yourself these key questions.

Is your content tailored to the right people?

You’re pretty sure you wrote compelling content… but is that actually the case? It’s time for a bit of self-reflection and honesty, which—while sometimes tough to swallow—is vital to the refocusing process.

One of the easiest mistakes to make in brand awareness campaigns is tailoring the content towards current customers. In reality, you’re targeting potential customers instead. [Tweet this]

The people you’re targeting likely have no idea who you are prior to seeing your ad. This is why the content has to be super compelling, either to draw them into visiting your site right away or ensuring that when they need a service or product like yours, you’re at the front of their mind.

The main things you need to include within the copy are:

  1. The unique selling points of your business—what makes you different from all of your competitors?
  2. How you can solve their problems—most consumers have some sort of problem (which is why they purchase services/products), so tell them how you can be the answer they’re looking for.
  3. A convincing call to action—whether this is telling them to visit your site, sign up for your newsletter or take advantage of a limited-time promotion or discount, tell people why they should act on their impulses now.

Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. What would you want to read? What would convince you to use your own product or service?

Marketers often forget to place themselves in the shoes of their target market and instead take a product-oriented approach.

Are you targeting the correct people?

Next, examine your target audience. Are you completely confident that you targeted the correct people? If your brand awareness campaign failed, then it’s possible you performed for the wrong audience.

Basing your target audience on your current customers seems like the place to start. They clearly love your brand, so people who share the same interests are your perfect target, right? Not necessarily.

In most cases, the audience you want to target is going to be slightly different. Before your current customer base found you, they were high-intent users actively searching for an answer to their problems.

In a brand awareness campaign, however, your audience isn’t likely to be high-intent when they first see your ads.

This is where you have to be creative; think about the types of people who may have pain points you can solve but don’t quite know it yet.

Think about the age range that’s most likely to face these pain points soon. Are there any geographical areas more likely to need your help? Are there any interests people have that could likely lead to needing you?

For example, if your brand specializes in decorating services, based on intent and life event options, you can target people who are moving soon or have recently moved. This would be more effective than simply targeting people who love decorating.

Are you tracking success correctly?

Finally, let’s review how you measure your brand awareness campaign’s success. You could run a hugely beneficial campaign, but if you’re focused on the wrong metrics, you may see it as a failure and not capitalize on it.

There are so many metrics you can use to gauge the success of a campaign that it can be difficult to know exactly what you should be looking for.

Success metrics should be chosen during the planning stage of your campaign, to give you a clear view of how the campaign should be structured and how you can get a sensible idea of the performance.

When you sit down to decide these metrics, use SMART goals and objectives. Many of you have probably already heard this acronym, but just in case, it stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

Setting your goals this way will help you get an in-depth understanding of which metrics to evaluate when measuring the campaign’s success.

And when it comes to brand awareness campaigns, success can be harder to measure. Focus on top-of-funnel metrics rather than sales or conversions. When it’s over, don’t stop reporting just because the initial boost of traffic and engagement has died down. Remember that these campaigns can continue to pay off with gradual increases over time.

Common brand awareness mistakes

With so much on the line, you can’t afford to dive in unprepared. Here are 7 rookie mistakes that often fly under the radar yet profoundly impact your brand awareness strategies and goals.

Mistake #1: Scattergun approach

Spreading yourself too thin is an easy trap to fall into. You can’t please and cater to everyone—and you shouldn’t. In fact, attempting this futile endeavor will result in satisfying no one.

Case in point: many startups establish accounts on every social network they can, only to find that managing them all is virtually impossible. Even if you do post to every network with the help of automation, you’re not delivering a great experience tailored to that platform—and you’re likely missing out on a lot of engagement.

Instead, do your research to find a highly targeted market. Know who they are and understand their habits, wants & needs. You have to find where they are and spend time there, not in a hundred places where you desperately hope to stumble upon them.

Mistake #2: Passive social presence

A “build it and they will come” mentality does not work on today’s internet. You can’t just set up a website or social media page and hope to see customers eagerly interacting with your brand. First, you have to engage the audience. Responding to comments in a timely manner is a good place to start… but it’s only a start.

Come up with a content calendar and post on a regular basis. Talk to users and influencers, and ask them for opinions. Use your social presence to carry out customer service around the clock via instant messaging and other channels. Social media is about building lasting, meaningful connections that strengthen brand loyalty. You can’t simply stuff your messages with hashtags and expect magic to happen.

Mistake #3: Incoherent cross-channel strategy

Rookie marketers tend to lose sight of the big picture and how coherent their messages appear across different channels. This is not the way to build strong credibility and inspire trust. Successful brand marketing is deeply rooted in consistency.

This journey calls for much more than investing in a decent logo and slapping it everywhere you can. You will need to use elements like the color palette, fonts, visual identity, images, and voice to set the tone for your marketing campaigns. Tailor to the medium and the platform, of course—but never lose the integral pieces of your brand’s identity. [ ]

Mistake #4: Overcommitting to digital

Cost-effective digital platforms have unparalleled reach, but they are not be-all and end-all of brand marketing. Not everyone is tuned in to social media, apps and online search. Depending on your target market, you could work wonders with print collateral or merchandising.

In other words, you can let human psychology work to your advantage and leave a lasting impression by giving away branded office supplies, quality printed shirts, and other handouts. Don’t overlook the potential of printed media. You could reach a lot of people via brochures, business cards, flyers, newsletters, and other printed marketing materials. In the digital era, print is personal and memorable.

Mistake #5: Going all-in on advertising

Advertising is the mainstay of many brand awareness campaigns. However, it’s generally a bad idea to put all your eggs in one basket-especially if you’re a rookie who’s worried about wasting your budget.

What’s more, people have grown weary of aggressive pop-ups & ads, even when they’re targeted with laser-like precision. They install ad-blockers to completely shut them down.

Instead, try to start small and set aside a limited ad budget. Test your awareness campaigns over a course of few weeks and evaluate the results. Paid marketing works best when you prioritize ROI, so as you learn the ropes, gather data and scale your campaigns based on your insights.

Mistake #6: Misunderstanding content marketing

Viral marketing is one way to enter with a big bang, but directing all your efforts there is a double-edged sword. If you win, you win big. If you don’t, you get nothing. You’re probably better off crafting compelling, quality content on a consistent basis. Be entertaining, educational, and add value to people’s lives.

Once you start producing a stream of relevant content, you have to promote it. Bear in mind that you might not achieve immediate success. Don’t cut corners, and show patience. It takes time to gain momentum and traction. In due time, your efforts will start to snowball via word-of-mouth and social signals.

Mistake #7: Disregarding or copying the competition

It always pays off to scope out the competition. Doing this homework will show you what works for them—and what doesn’t. You gain valuable insights that help you set your brand apart. You should always keep an eye on what others are doing, but refrain from imitating them.

Looking and feeling like another business stirs brand confusion and slows the development of your own reputation. Instead, being genuine is the best way to win people over and keep them in your camp. That being said, you can still borrow good ideas and implement them in your marketing strategy. Just make sure you’re doing it in a way that’s fresh and authentic to your brand.

Key takeaway: Brand awareness by design

Effective brand awareness campaigns are hard to pull off. You have to put the right messages in the right place and serve it to the right people. Much easier said than done. There’s a lot of ground to cover without losing your footing and plenty of tools to consider.

Right away, put a sound strategy in place and let it guide your efforts across channels and platforms. Steer away from common mistakes that can bite off a big chunk of your budget and hinder your brand. Concentrate on turning curious visitors into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers into satisfied brand ambassadors.

Think of some of the most iconic brands all time. What comes to mind? Nike? Apple? Disney?

Most likely you think about a logo, a slogan, or a general aesthetic that is unique to the brand. Whether sleek, futuristic or full of princesses, you should be able to conjure up some visual.

Why do these brands leave such a strong impression? Because they have been able to craft a consistent, creative message that sticks with you.

Any company will benefit from brand consistency in all touchpoints along the funnel. But before we talk about how they benefit, let’s break down what this really means.

What are the touchpoints?

According to Salesforce, consumers interact with 6 to 8 touchpoints just to get to sales in the funnel. That’s a lot of times to touch one brand before you commit to a conversation. And that’s only the top of the funnel.

As someone is transitioning from an unknown prospect to a customer (and an advocate), these are some of the touchpoints they encounter.

As you put effort into each of these touchpoints, you want your audience to connect the dots. This saves you time, effort and money down the road.

What do we mean by creative consistency?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines consistency as “the quality of achieving a level of performance which does not vary greatly over time.”

In a creative sense, that’s assuring your logos, design elements, messaging, tone and imagery stay the same from one touchpoint to the next.

This is often achieved by first implementing a brand style guide and templates across teams, then maintaining open lines of communication and support with other teams creating touchpoints.

Creative consistency means a level of work with your brand over time which does not vary greatly, such that people will recognize your brand from one interaction to the next.

Why is this important?

Creating a consistent brand image from one touchpoint to the next is important to for both psychological and economic reasons within your organization. It can help your company achieve the following results.

1. Makes your brand easily recognizable

Humans are hard-wired to look for patterns. Since the beginning of time, we’ve looked for patterns as a way to survive. We’ve used them to speed up our information processing, as well as look for dangers in our environment.

Creating a consistent brand helps people easily recognize and place your brand over time. It also helps people be more comfortable interacting with your brand along different touchpoints because they know what to expect.

2. Builds trust across channels

Have you ever gotten an email that just doesn’t look right because it’s different than what you expected? If so, it’s entirely possible that was a dangerous phishing email—and hopefully, you deleted it. Remember our reliance on recognizing patterns to survive? The same goes for building trust.

Since humans are hard-wired to look for patterns, we’re also wired to be suspicious of anything that deviates from the norm. Keeping your logos, colors and messaging consistent helps people see that they can trust your brand.

This goes double for any communications from your support and services teams. Since people reach out to those teams when they’re vulnerable and need help, creating a pattern of trust gives them reason to be comfortable working and sharing with your team.

3. Sets expectations with users

Have you ever clicked an ad for an article, only to find out the article was not what you expected to read? It doesn’t feel good for the user. How do you know you won’t be disappointed again the next time you click? Users want their expectations met as they click from one touchpoint to the next.

As users progress through your brand’s touchpoints, they’ll start to recognize each one as part of a larger picture. Everything you create will be part of that story. Creating consistency across everything from ad copy to messages from sales reps will reinforce the customer’s expectations as they move from one phase to the next in your sales process.

4. Lays a good foundation for content

Before you build a solid marketing plan, you have to start with a few building blocks—create some personas, map your customer journeys, inventory your assets and resources. Imagine how hard it would be to produce creative brand content when you’re missing those pieces.

To build an effective campaign, you have to know what imagery and messaging resonate, and what your audience expects to see. Do you have a quirky mascot, tagline or hashtag that you can build on? Then you can iterate on that concept’s success to tell a better story.

5. Promotes effective storytelling

One-off, single-channel interactions are out. Omni-channel, multi-touch processes are in. This is why we use techniques like ad re-targeting and marketing automation. As a marketer, you must connect the dots from one channel to another.

Consistency across these marketing touchpoints builds a story over time. They may not see the pieces all at once, but they will feel their cumulative effects. You’re more likely to respond to retargeting ads when the brand is one you recognize and trust.

Think of how much money you spend to acquire a single customer. Almost always, that acquisition is not done as a single event, but done over the course of multiple touches. Each of those touches costs money to create (either in dollars or in time). To maximize that investment, potential customers should feel these touchpoints form a single experience.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel with every project or campaign. While we should always be improving and building better campaigns than the last, it helps to start with a consistent design, template or ad, rather than continuously spending time or bandwidth to re-design it.

Key takeaway

Building touchpoints with creative consistency leads to an effective, cohesive, trustworthy brand, and the more time your company can spend on the same page working towards that vision, the better.

Want to know more about the impact of brand consistency? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

When we consider brand-customer relationships and interactions, many of us instantly think of viral examples of “brands behaving badly”—like a tweet about a lost online order or a post about terrible airline service. And then there’s the aftermath of such an interaction, where the brand scrambles to do damage control by pledging to do better next time and make changes going forward.

But, what if there was a way companies and brands could respond to every customer in real time with a completely personalized approach? There is a new way of cultivating and maintaining customer relationships. It’s faster, easier and cheaper than any call center.

Enter chatbots

First, what are chatbots? Chatbots complete automated tasks and services via messaging apps. They also respond to users by pulling answers from a database and relying on pre-programmed phrases. Some bots employ artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and get “smarter” with each interaction, like voice assistants Siri and Alexa.

Because of their ability to interact and provide instant answers to users’ questions, bots are uniquely suited for improving customer service. Here are just a few ways chatbots can benefit brands.

Chatbots are available 24/7/365

Thanks to apps like Lyft and Uber Eats, our society has become even more accustomed to instant gratification. We want everything right here and now; it’s the definition of the on-demand economy that apps and bots helped to create. So, it makes sense that bots would step in to fulfill our need for immediate interaction with brands and companies.

Protecting your brand’s reputation for stellar customer service could be as simple as deploying an after-hours chatbot for your website. Long after your human customer service reps have clocked out and gone home, your bot is hard at work fielding questions from customers.

Additionally, since bots are designed to complete tasks and gather information, brands are positioned to solve some of their unique customer service challenges with the implementation of chatbots.

One thing to note: Be upfront when customers are communicating with a bot. In other words, don’t disguise the chatbot as a real person. In fact, bots are favored over humans when it comes to answering quick questions. So, let customers know that after-hours customer service is handled by chatbots.

Chatbots are proactive

Browse through any e-commerce website, and you’re likely to encounter a bot in the form of a helpful personal shopper. More brands are using chatbots to interact with customers and establish contact proactively in anticipation of shopper needs.

Why the shift? A recent poll found a whopping 83% of shoppers say they need help while shopping online. The thought behind this strategy is that not connecting with a shopper until they actively reach out with a question often results in the loss of a sale. But, if a brand can reach out and start a conversation with a customer at the beginning of their shopping experience, there’s a better chance of keeping them on the website.

Brands like Aerie and Whole Foods are using chatbots exceptionally well to proactively engage with customers and offer things like discounts and recipes.

Think of all the possible ways a bot could help a browsing customer before they even know they need help:

Chatbots are more consistent, faster & cheaper

Humans get burnt out, have bad days, and need to take breaks. Bots have no such problems. Bots can work around the clock and never waiver in the level of customer service they provide. Humans have a limit to how many people they can realistically help during a shift, while bots are not beholden to any such rules. Because bots are inherently adaptive and exist solely to help users, they can even build relationships more efficiently than humans. (That is, to a degree.)

Chatbots are great at collecting data from their interactions with customers, which can then be used to improve or personalize future communication. Instead of a customer starting over each time they visit your site, a bot can pick up right where they left off and build upon the previously established relationship.

Bots can handle tedious tasks (like gathering and verifying account information) much faster than a human employee, and they do it all without the need for a paycheck. Plus, the overhead required to staff a 24-hour call center far outweighs the cost of programming a chatbot.

What’s next?

Humans will never be fully replaced by chatbots for meaningful interaction, especially in face-to-face instances. But, as engineers fine-tune their programming to become more sophisticated and handle increasingly complex requests, more brands will use chatbots as a way to stay “always on.”

Every business owners’ hope is that their business will grow. Whether it’s a small, medium or large business, there’s always room for growth. It’s an exciting process, but it might be short-lived if you’re unable to manage your brand consistently.

As you add more people to your team and start producing more content (such as landing pages, social media posts and ads), how do you keep everyone on the same page? How do you maintain brand consistency to keep your brand’s message clear and strong?

Here are five tips on how to do just that.

1. Create a brand style guide

With more employees and less time to look over every piece of content, it’s difficult to catch off-brand materials before they go out.

Create a brand style guide that shows employees how to use your branding properly. This will help your employees create on-brand content that shares a consistent look and feel.

Your brand is more than just the logo and colors that you use, so naturally, your brand style guide will cover more ground than that. Here’s a list of useful sections to include.

Mission

What does your company do? Lay the foundation for your style guide by first addressing your company’s goals and what you hope to accomplish in the future.

If you haven’t written a mission statement or want to spice yours up, here are some powerful examples.

Target audience

Discuss who your target audience is. What’s most important to them, and why do they use your product? This will help your employees better understand who they’re talking to and why it’s important to communicate with your audience in a consistent way.

Values

When someone reads through your brand style guide, they should be able to relate to your brand and anticipate how your brand will respond in certain situations. This is why it’s important to have a section dedicated to the values of the company.

What values must come first in your company? By including these, your employees will know how to communicate with your customers.

Brand personality

Your brand personality comprises the characteristics you use to describe it. If your brand was a person, what would they be like? Professional, witty, funny?

If you’re struggling to think of characteristics that describe your company, survey your customers and ask them what personality traits they feel your brand has.

This helps bring your brand to life and give better depth to your brand’s voice, tone, messaging, and even its visual elements.

Visual elements

This section is where you put all the specifics regarding your logo, colors, typography and imagery. Provide as much direction with these elements as possible. For example, show each version of your company’s logo and describe how it should be used, where it should be located, when to use certain colors, etc.

For more help in setting up your brand style guide, check out our post on great examples of brand guidelines. You can also look at this 99designs blog post that goes into more detail about brand guidelines.

2. Pay attention to messaging & tone

Communicating with customers is often achieved through writing. Text appears on your advertisements, in your product, in blog posts and on your website—just to name a few examples.

Imagine how confusing it would be if you had a friend who always spoke with a Midwestern accent, but then one day, they showed up talking like a Californian surfer or a seasoned New Yorker? All of these accents are great, but you’d be pretty confused about what was going on with your friend. Could you even trust them anymore?

This is why consistent messaging is important for your customers. If the writing on your website uses a formal tone, but they receive emails from you that sound like a casual conversation, they’ll be wary—and rightfully so.

While creating your brand style guide, focus on describing your company’s tone and provide writing examples that fit your company’s voice.

When you read what other employees have written, give specific feedback about what is on-brand and what is not. Over time, they’ll learn which words, phrases and punctuation are appropriate for the brand.

3. Regularly train your team

Now that you have a brand guide for your employees, show them how to use it. If you don’t, your brand style guide will likely end up being ignored. If you can get your employees excited about your brand, they’ll be inspired to represent it well by following your style guide.

The opposite is also true. If you fail to get your employees onboard with your branding efforts, they may reject these new “restrictions.” This will promote more inconsistency and upset employees.

Keeping your brand consistent is a team effort that requires everyone to be onboard. Prepare an engaging presentation to introduce the brand style guide and strategy. Listen to their feedback, but make sure everyone understands the importance of consistency.

There might be a need for additional training for employees who are more involved in branding efforts such as writers, designers, marketers, customer service reps and managers. Once these employees are ready to build up your brand, ask them to share the same training with new employees as they onboard.

Keep an eye on the enthusiasm surrounding your brand. As it fades, you’ll have to recalibrate with reminders and additional training. It’s important for employees to know that you will champion the brand over the long term.

Key takeaway

When you focus on building a brand, the most important thing is to commit to it. No matter how well thought-out your brand is or how clever your messaging is, if it’s inconsistent, consumers will lose trust in you.

Create your brand guidelines, train your employees, find the right messaging and stick to it. The best companies in the world have championed their brands for decades. This consistency is part of their success—they’ve become familiar, beloved names for millions of customers. Lay the foundation for your brand today, so it can reap the benefits for years to come.

Want to know more about the impact of brand consistency? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

When you’re fine-tuning your brand, it’s important for everyone in your company to be on-board.

Let’s face it: Keeping your brand consistent is a tricky task—but it’s one that’s almost impossible if your staff aren’t fully educated about the strong brand you’re trying to create.

But, how can you keep everyone up to speed with the branding guidelines you’ve put together? In the modern age, when teams are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, an old Word document with a bulleted list of brand elements isn’t the way forward.

There’s one not-so-tiny thing that can help: a brand platform.

Here’s how you can create your own brand platform, and a free template to help you get started.

What is a brand platform?

Acting as the overarching document that includes important details about your business, a brand platform typically includes:

Every company, no matter what industry they’re operating in, should have a brand platform.

Why do I need a brand platform for my business?

It’s all well and good for me to harp on about brand platforms, but you want to know why this document is so important for businesses, right?

Here’s your answer: This central document helps to make sure everyone in your business is on the same page. From sales and marketing teams to creative departments, your business’s brand platform should be accessible by all employees, and clearly understood before undertaking any new marketing strategy or messaging.

This helps to keep your brand consistent—a tactic that has been proven to influence a 23% increase in revenue, on average.

In short: You’d be foolish to neglect it!

The perfect template for creating a brand platform

While brand platforms are critical, creating a document that is well-received by all members of your team isn’t an easy task.

However, we’ve created this brand platform template to provide inspiration for your own development. Simply open the template in Lucidpress and edit each element to match your brand.

various branded pieces of content

Download this free brand platform template.

3 tips for adding your own identity to this template

Now that you’ve got a template to base your brand platform on, use these three tips to add your own identity.

1. Dig deep into your business’s true values

Certain sections of this template require you to dig deep into the core of your brand—including the mission statement and brand personality sections.

So, avoid filling this section of your template with fluff. Remember: A strong brand has a strong reason behind the things they’re doing.

You could gain valuable insights for this section of your brand platform by:

The latter option is fantastic because you’re able to identify which of your branded elements have worked previously. For example, if you notice an overwhelming number of customers purchased because of your company-wide passion against animal testing, don’t miss out by failing to include this in your brand platform. It’s already proven to be effective.

2. Use your brand platform for every type of marketing activity

Planning to launch a Facebook advertising campaign? Looking to use Google Ads to sell more products? Gearing up to attend an industry trade show?

In any of these occasions, your brand platform is critical.

Why? Because a powerful brand is consistent. Think about it: One of the most recognizable brands in the world is Nike. I’ll bet their signature checkmark logo wouldn’t be as iconic if it wasn’t plastered across their sneakers, website and social media profiles.

So, use this consistency concept when doing any type of marketing activity. Encourage all members of staff to refer back to the brand platform when representing your company, and you’ll be on the road to a strong, powerful brand in no time at all.

3. Don’t try to be something you’re not

Did you know that 94% of all consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand when they commit to transparency? Attempting to be something you’re not isn’t going to sit well with the people you’re working so hard to win over.

Going back to our tip on digging deep into your brand’s true values, pretending to be something you’re not—and fabricating your values to seem more interesting—shouldn’t be part of your brand platform creation process.

Instead, be true to your brand. Marketing to the beat of your own drum is much better than following the crowd. 

Final thoughts on creating a brand platform

Are you ready to make a start on your brand platform and experience the benefits of consistent branding?

That’s great, but don’t let your hard work go to waste.

Make sure every member of your team is fully on-board with your brand platform before publishing any marketing materials—including social media posts, online ads or blog posts.

Whether you’re printing out the template and pinning it to your office wall or holding a company-wide meeting to explain each element, your new brand platform won’t be effective if it’s not being taken seriously. Be the champion your brand platform needs, and you’ll see results in no time.

Customer loyalty separates historically successful brands from the rest. Why do people consistently drink Coca-Cola or wear Nike sneakers? The answer is a simple one: Those brands have earned trust from their customers. Their products are of high quality, and their brand messaging has remained consistent, making it easy to cultivate brand integrity with customers.

Building integrity through your brand requires following the correct blueprint. You can’t build an entire house by following instructions on how to assemble a new sofa. In the same vein, building and maintaining brand integrity starts by using strategies that help you stay on-message and foster loyalty and recognition.

If you’re looking for the right blueprint, consider following these five guidelines to build and maintain your company’s brand integrity.

1. Choose the right products

One misstep can create a long-lasting negative impression for a brand. IHOP drove this lesson home when the company changed its name and logo to IHOB to announce new burger offerings on its menu. Customers and critics alike lampooned the decision, stating that the company had strayed from its breakfast roots. IHOP reverted to its old name and logo, and it claimed the move was only a temporary promotional stunt. Even if that’s true, it didn’t undo the negative publicity the brand endured.

The lesson here is simple: Choose the right products to maintain consistency in your brand message. Trying to go “off the menu” to deliver what you think is a better product could confuse customers, employees, vendors and other parties. Products should always feel cohesive and congruent with your overall brand identity. That consistency lays the foundation for brand trust.

2. Make customers your top priority

Customer engagement forms the backbone of any successful business. Your company gains strength by offering high-quality products and reliable services to its customers time and time again. It’s the cornerstone for building relationships of trust with those customers.

Dropping the ball can be a disaster. Customers notice when your company makes mistakes, such as producing inferior products or offering poor customer service. Such slip-ups can convince them to leave, which ultimately hurts your brand reputation and negatively impacts your bottom line.

One of the best things your business can do is to fulfill what your brand promises by putting your customers first. Start by

Because when your business is approachable, customers are more likely to trust your brand to find solutions for their problems as they arise.

3. Be honest

Chances are, when you see an infomercial pop up on TV, you quickly change the channel. Why is that such a common reaction? The simple answer is that no one likes feeling manipulated.

Infomercials have a lousy reputation partly because the products featured are often long on promises and short on results. From cookware guaranteed to never wear out to miracle cures for a host of ailments, these products are often too good to be true. No customers enjoy feeling misled, and the brands associated with “As Seen on TV,” products often suffer the results of negative perception.

Your business should be wary of falling into the same trap. Always be truthful in advertising and other forms of communication with customers — respect their intelligence. Be honest about what your products and services can do, and play to their natural strengths.

Fostering integrity with your brand starts with honesty. If a customer can’t trust your brand messaging, how can you expect them to trust your business?

4. Employ realistic marketing strategies

Reckless marketing campaigns give the wrong impression about your brand to customers and employees alike. It’s tempting to kick the hype machine into overdrive whenever you roll out a new product or service. But bigger isn’t always better. If your marketing veers into uncharted territory by making promises your business can’t keep, the road back to restoring brand integrity can be long and treacherous.

How do you feel when a product works as advertised? It’s amazing! You want to give that same feeling to your customers and employees. Give them a reason to feel excited, of course, but make sure you’re still coloring within the lines. Focus on the real benefits and results of your products, rather than allowing your creative energy to devise claims that aren’t achievable.

5. Maintain a consistent moral code

Doing the right thing for the right reasons is not an antiquated virtue. Businesses who play dirty often end up looking dirty in the eyes of the customers they want to attract.

Understanding which values your customers cherish is essential. Take enough time to learn what those values meanwhile you’re conducting market research. Then, take it a step further and weave those values into the fabric of your brand.

If your brand has core values that define your company’s culture, stick to those values. Doing so fosters an authentic and favorable brand image. Betraying those values can do more to undermine your brand’s integrity than just about anything else. The last thing you need to do in a crowded marketplace gives customers and employees a reason to turn away and march into the arms of a competitor.

Key takeaway

Building and maintaining brand integrity is a long-term strategy for success, but the results are well worth the investment. By choosing the right products, putting customers first, making promises your brand can keep, and sticking to your company’s values, you build a long-lasting brand that customers and employees are proud to support.

Want to know more about how to build your brand? Download our free ebook on how to build a brand in 2020.

Do you want to learn how you can make your company stand out from the crowd?

Or how to position your company so a prospect sees you as the only viable option when choosing between you and a competitor?

And finally, do you want to learn some little-known tricks that some of the biggest companies in the world use to turn people into loyal fans?

You’re in the right place.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand what digital branding is, why it’s important, and how you can adapt the methods big brands like Nike & Apple use to sell more products.

You’ll see concrete examples of how to plant in your prospects’ minds the brand image you want them to perceive.

Whether you want your company to be seen as the best, the cheapest, the fastest or the best customer experience, these actionable techniques will help you.

But before getting into the strategy, let’s cover the basics.

What is branding?

Digital brand management example

How would you describe this shape? It’s called a swoosh. But, you know what’s really interesting?

Most people don’t know what a swoosh is. And most people don’t know why Nike adopted it as a logo or what this shape is supposed to convey.

Still, we’re willing to pay more for a T-shirt with this shape on it than for a plain T-shirt made with the same cotton.

Nike isn’t the only example, of course. Take Mercedes or BMW—or any other well-known brand. Do you know what their logo means? Their history? Why they’re better than their rivals?

If you’re a huge fan, maybe. But, most people don’t.

Still, we have preferences. When it’s time to open our pockets, we eventually choose one over the other. How and why do we choose one over the other if we don’t know that much about either?

The answer might seem a little obvious: because they made us feel something.

When you buy a Mercedes, you aren’t just buying a car. You’re buying status. When people see you driving it, you feel accomplished, educated, wealthy and so on.

When you buy a fresh pair of Nike Jordans, you feel empowered like a great athlete, you feel like you’re going for it, and you almost feel like a star.

Why do we feel that way? Because that’s how brands are telling us to feel.

Branding is not what people know about your company, products or service. It’s not a static set of characteristics to remember about you. It’s not your content marketing, social media or creative advertising.

Branding is everything you do to make people feel a certain way.

This leads us to our next question.

Why is digital branding so important?

Why should you put a lot of effort into making people feel a certain way about your brand?

Imagine you go into a sports store to buy a T-shirt. You have three brands sitting in front of you: Nike, Adidas and a generic brand. All the same color. All the same fabric.

You don’t care about the material since they’re all made of basically the same fabric. They look the same. They feel the same. The only difference is the logo and the price.

But in a matter of seconds, you make a decision. You decide intuitively that brand A is better than brand B. And that’s why branding is important.

Branding is a promise that buying a product from brand A will give you more benefits than buying a product from brand B.

Now, how do you plant the perception in people’s minds that your brand is better than your competition?

This leads us to our next section.

Essential digital brand management tips

Branding shares similar principles whether it’s happening online or offline. Your goal is to make people feel a certain way about you, no matter what channel you’re using.

Since everything is shifting towards the digital world, below you’ll find mainly digital brand management tips that will help you build your online identity and stand out from the crowd.

1. Find your core values. What do you stand for?

If you want to build a strong, lasting brand, you need a strong, lasting strategy. Any powerful branding strategy starts with the company’s core values.

Here’s Apple’s mission statement from 2017:

“Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

Words like “the best,” “leads,” “revolution” and “reinvented” clearly tell you that creativity, innovation and being different are things Apple cares deeply about. And we’ll see in a minute how they express that.

But first, let’s return to a previous example: Nike. What does Nike stand for?

It isn’t about the shoes. It’s about great athletes, striving and going for it. It’s about being the best version of yourself. Or, to put it in their words:

Digital brand management example

“Our mission is what drives us to do everything possible to expand human potential. We do that by creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainably, by building a creative and diverse global team and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work.”

Considering these two examples for reference, how do you want to be perceived by people?

At Lucidpress, our mission is to make creating beautiful, on-brand content quick and easy for everyone. We believe each brand has a story, and our graphic design software exists to make it easy for brands to tell their stories visually. You can see how this mission influenced our homepage design:

Digital brand management software

2. Express those values consistently in everything you do

If you want people to feel about you in the way you decided, you have to keep representing those values in everything that you do.

Let me give you some examples to show what I mean.

We mentioned earlier that Apple stands for creativity, innovation, and being different, right? Here’s how they express it, even in the small details.

Not that many years ago, there were only black headphones. That was the norm.

When Apple released the iPod, they had a problem. The device lived in people’s pockets, so no one could tell you were listening to an iPod just by the sight of your black headphones.

What did Apple do?

Digital brand management example

They designed white headphones.

As psychologists and business experts have noted since the iPod’s release, the decision to make its earbuds white sent Apple’s reputation as an uber-cool company into the stratosphere.

That’s an offline branding example. Here’s how they deal with digital branding on their website.

Digital brand management example

In every aspect of its communication, Apple keeps repeating its core values.

Even if it’s not explicitly stated, they suggest them to you, which is often more powerful than just saying it.

Let’s return to Nike. As stated earlier, they don’t just sell shoes. They celebrate great athletes, and they want to expand human potential.

If you look at their digital branding, you rarely see pictures or videos showing off their shoes. Instead, you see athletes and performers being the best version of themselves, exemplifying one of Nike’s core values.

Digital brand management example

3. Keep your style & communication consistent

If you want people to recognize your brand instantly, then keep your style consistent across all channels, including digital branding and offline branding.

What do I mean by style?

It’s the fonts you use. The colors. The tone of voice. The choice of words. Your logo. Everything that defines what your brand is. This area of branding is also known as brand identity design.

Here’s a digital branding example from Carlsberg. If you take a look at this post, you’ll see that they’ve repeated part of their value proposition: probably the best beer in the world.

Digital brand management example

For more, head over to their Instagram profile. Almost every post uses green, and they use their value proposition innovatively to describe experiences related to enjoying a beer.

Digital brand management example

Or on this real-world banner where they don’t even show the bottle, but you can instantly recognize it’s about Carlsberg.

Digital brand management example

This consistency builds recognition and trust, because the brand has become a familiar personality people can relate to.

4. Make it easy for people to understand

Find a way to concisely tell customers who you are. And I’m not referring just to the tagline here, but to your communications as a whole.

Don’t try to play clever word games that become too complicated. Don’t try to use big words and phrases that have no real meaning.

Your message should be closely associated with your brand’s values, and you should condense it into one or two sentences.

This part of the brand building process goes beyond your logo and tagline to define:

To summarize, your definition should be instantly understandable while simultaneously striking an emotional chord. Make it resonant.

Think about it this way: You don’t have half an hour to explain to your customer what your company does. In most situations, especially if we’re talking about digital branding, you barely have half a minute.

Carlsberg is probably (see what I did there) one of the best examples of a clear value proposition.

But as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t have to be about the tagline. Effective digital branding can be done in the details, like your website’s headline, the signature of your email or a short description on your business card.

Brand management example

Okay, so we’ve reviewed a few crucial digital branding tips. But, how do you make sure your brand stays consistent throughout all your marketing channels?

What if you go through a rebrand? What if your marketing team goes through some personnel changes? How do you make sure your brand maintains its style and core values?

Fortunately, we’ve got some tips here, too.

5. Establish brand guidelines with a clear identity

To make sure everyone is on the same page, you need to have documented brand guidelines that anyone in the company can find and use.

It’s a document that contains all the rules for composition, design, and general look-and-feel of all a brand’s collateral.

For ideas and inspiration, here are a few great brand guideline examples.

Medium

Digital brand management example

See the full brand guide here.

Skype

Digital brand management example

See the full brand guide here.

Scrimshaw Coffee

Digital brand management example

See the full brand guide here.

If you want a few more great examples, check out our post: 10 best corporate identity design examples

And if you’re ready to create your own brand guidelines, we’ve got a handy template to help you get started: Brand style guide template

Speaking of templates, let’s move onto our next point.

6. Invest in templates which reflect your brand’s aesthetic

Ok, so you have the guidelines. But, what if a new person joins the team and hasn’t managed to get a solid grasp of them yet?

One easy way to minimize errors is to invest in a designer who can create “best practice” templates that are in line with your brand’s ethos and aesthetic.

This ensures no one in your company has to take matters into their own hands, because they can draw on templates that reflect your brand every time they create a new document.

If you’re using Lucidpress, you can customize templates to easily create stunning content without having to start from scratch every time. And because of its innovative Brand Assets feature, you can make sure everyone is using the latest version of your branding elements. Fonts, colors and logos are all pre-loaded and ready to go.

Digital brand management software

7. Make sure you update your brand messaging & visuals everywhere

At this point, you have (or will have) a brand manual and a handful of templates that are in line with your brand aesthetic.

But, what if you go through a rebranding? What if your designer has to make a small change to your logo—how do you ensure your team uses the right version?

There are two ways to avoid this.

The hard way: You create a spreadsheet where you keep track of every edit you’ve ever made. Of course, you realize how tedious this can be—not to mention this method isn’t foolproof.

The easy way: You can use brand management software to make things much easier, and you can be 100% sure there are no errors.

Digital brand management software

Of course, we’re biased here, but with Lucidpress, your team has access to all brand assets in one place. Beyond that, you can lock down branded elements in your templates that should never be changed.

Lucidpress also offers real-time collaboration, which makes it easy for anyone on the team to work together and make sure your brand stays consistent throughout every channel.

Key takeaways

There are two main things I would like you to remember from this article.

1. Consistency is key to building a strong brand.

A strong, lasting brand takes years to be developed. Just look at the big brands out there. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. That’s why consistency is key.

2. Start with your company’s core values.

Before starting any brand marketing, make sure you clearly define your company’s brand identity. Your values, who you want to be, how you want people to perceive your company.

Because if it’s not very clear for you, don’t expect it to be clear to customers—no matter how often you’re communicating with them.

When you know exactly what you want to communicate, you’ll easily find ways to convey that message, and your audience will notice.

Want to know more about the impact of brand consistency? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

The early stages of a brand’s lifespan are crucial because it’s during that time when it’s usually easiest to set expectations and form habits, instead of attempting to do those things for an already established brand or company.

Productivity impacts how efficiently employees get things done, whether a brand’s goals are met, and if teams can complete projects by deadline. Here are 6 tips to help new brands boost their productivity and increase the likelihood of their success.

1. Encourage employees to focus on one thing at a time

One of the typical characteristics of new brands is that staff members fulfill many roles that weren’t part of their initial job descriptions. In other words, they become multitaskers. However, contrary to popular belief, multitasking makes people less productive than doing one task and finishing it before going on to the next one.

The American Psychological Association investigated and found when people attempt to do two things at once, their performance on both of them goes down. That’s because the human brain isn’t designed for multitasking.

A common productivity hack of successful CEOs is that they devote themselves to focused work instead of getting distracted by numerous unfinished tasks simultaneously. It’s smart for the entire workforce associated with a brand to do the same.

2. Understand the power of setting firm boundaries

There’s a common perception—especially at customer-facing brands—that being seen as busy is a good thing. It suggests the brand is thriving and in-demand if flurries of activity consistently characterize its offices.

However, being too busy can negatively impact productivity, especially if it means employees don’t use their time wisely. When new brands set boundaries, whether interacting with clients or deciding how soon a new task can be accomplished, they’ll find it easier to progress steadily toward task completion and not get overwhelmed.

Saying no is difficult for many people in today’s society. They fear that by doing it, they’ll make others regard them as unwilling to accept responsibility or work hard.

Research shows, though, that people find it easier to set boundaries by saying “I don’t” instead of “I can’t.” The latter response suggests a person might want to do something, while the former indicates there’s no room for debate.

When individuals associated with new brands initially get into the habit of effective boundary-setting, they’ll likely feel that they’re letting people down. However, firm boundaries boost productivity by ensuring brand representatives don’t take on too much.

3. Don’t urge workers to sacrifice sleep

Many people who assist with bringing new brands to profitability might only sleep a few hours per night. They justify it by telling themselves things like, “I’ll get back to a healthier sleep schedule after we finish the logo design / once we can hire a full-time social media manager / as soon as we release that new product line,” and so on.

What they don’t realize is that a lack of sleep is probably making their productivity plummet by causing a lack of mental clarity, poor decision-making and other unwanted side effects. Scientists have also discovered that when people don’t sleep, they have trouble regulating and processing emotions.

That could result in a problem where a new brand’s company culture becomes full of tension, frustration and not enough thorough judgment. Plus, when people are deprived of sleep, they might have trouble even keeping their eyes open during meetings. That’s definitely not the tone you want to set in the office.

4. Use some carefully chosen productivity tools

Some productivity tools encourage collaboration, while others block access to certain websites during work hours. Leadership might resist investing in some of them due to a desire to save money. Fortunately, various productivity tools have free options, allowing business owners and others to try them without paying.

Science shows that certain aspects of the workday or environment—such as superiors who constantly interrupt workers or meetings that are too long and frequent—could cut down people’s productivity so much that they aren’t to blame.

Rather, their employers or workplaces are the culprits. That’s why it’s useful to see which productivity tools could reduce interruptions or foster fluid collaboration that would make lengthy meetings less necessary.

For example, a brand templating platform can save your team hours of time by providing brand-approved templates for every kind of marketing collateral. Teams can collaborate on designs and submit them to management for approval. Rather than waiting weeks to get creative work back, everyone has what they need, right when they need it.

5. Don’t waste too much time studying competitors

New brands often get bogged down by paying attention to competitors’ actions. That may seem like a smart thing to do, especially if the competitors are significantly more successful than the newer brand. However, finding success when launching a new brand requires paying attention to the target audience and what they want.

Customers appreciate when brands understand their needs and aim to cater to them. It’s impossible to do those things without getting acquainted with a target audience first.

In one study, 80% of respondents said brands hadn’t ever communicated with them in ways that were too invasive or personalized. So, instead of getting hyper-focused on other members of the marketplace, new brands should be using their resources to get to know their clients.

6. Consider setting “quiet hours”

Most workplaces feature an assortment of sounds—ringing phones, chatter and people typing on keyboards—that eliminates the potential for anything close to silence. As established earlier, people perform their best work when they’re focused on one thing at a time… but noisy workplaces prevent that from happening.

Some companies have established quiet hours intended to increase productivity. During those periods, people cannot send or receive emails. They don’t get or make phone calls during quiet hours, either.

There may be instances where it’s not feasible to stick rigidly to the rules, especially if a person requires email and phone communications to complete a project. When those occasions arise, it’s useful to set aside a particular place for individuals to go—such as an unused meeting room—to take care of activities that cause noise.

Scientists know silence gives the brain a break, and that people subjected to environments with lots of noise are often more stressed than those who are in quieter places.

Depending on what a brand needs to get done, scheduled blocks of silence could help everyone buckle down and accomplish things, then feel refreshed when the noise level in the office returns to its usual din.

Key takeaway: Practice productivity from the start

A brand’s performance could depend on some of the longest-standing principles the company sets in the beginning. Regardless of the industry, productivity is a necessary ingredient for ongoing competitiveness and prosperity.

It’s better for leaders and their employees to adopt solid productivity habits every day than to form bad habits and try breaking them later.

Ready to save more time? Lucidpress makes it easy to create beautifully branded content in a matter of minutes.

It’s something you’ve been told to do for years, as far back as your high school English classes: Define your voice. Voice is sometimes talked about as some ineffable je ne sais quoi. It’s something that’s felt more than defined.

But in reality, voice—the elements of personality that make a brand or person so distinctly themselves—can and should be defined. In fact, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, voice can have a huge impact on how much consumers trust or care about a brand. And that matters, because customers are far more likely to spend money with a reliable brand than an unreliable one.

What is brand voice?

Brand voice specifically refers to the content your business publishes online, in print, and anywhere else. It’s made up of the words you use and how you choose to use them—in other words, it’s the voice with which your business speaks.

Not sure what your brand’s personality is or should be? Here are five tips to help you define and sustain your brand’s voice.

1. Spend time putting words to your brand voice

While this step might look simple on the surface, it’s something a lot of companies overlook. If you want your brand’s voice to be consistent and scalable for growth, you have to clearly document it.

Begin with a voice tool as a starting point, or simply play through a few improv-style scenarios, feeling out how you and other stakeholders would expect the brand to respond in a given situation. As you launch new products, would your brand message contain more excitement or confidence? When customers write in for support, is it more important for your staff to be appeasing or authoritative? Which main values or interests do you want your messaging to regularly drive home?

Carefully document the responses, then identify any patterns or trends. Narrow down your list to a core set of descriptors (between three and five). From there, you can construct statements highlighting what your brand identity is and isn’t. By establishing and documenting the foundation of your company’s voice, you have a point of reference for any future communication or branding.

MailChimp’s voice and tone guidelines are a great point of reference for how to do this. The description is fairly brief, but each word gets a lot of work done.

2. Create consistency in every bit of content and copy

A truly effective voice requires consistency across all messaging. No piece of copy, content or communication should stray from that core persona, or you risk hurting how consistent your brand is perceived. And given that consistency can provide a 23% revenue increase over brands that lack it, inconsistency is one mistake you really can’t afford to make.

Take Cards Against Humanity. Every piece of writing in its games and on its website bursts with snarky sarcasm. The company has even set up training to ensure that support staff can meet customer needs without losing the signature sass that has come to define the brand’s voice.

If you want to follow this model, share the brand guidelines you established in the point above so all staff members know what is and isn’t allowed. Set up QA processes to make sure that everything aligns, from your social voice to your customer support voice. Specific tone can differ to suit different situations, but the central voice that defines your brand should remain constant across all communications and posts.

3. Raise your brand’s voice through proper channels

Everyone has that one extended relative—a grandma or a great aunt—who uses Facebook in a way that’s just a little bit off. And that’s exactly what you want to avoid. Because in a lot of ways, where you share your message matters almost as much as what you’re sharing.

The reason for this is twofold: First, it makes good financial sense to put brand resources and time where they will have the most impact. Second, and maybe more importantly, the platforms you use can impact how your brand’s voice is perceived. A teen-focused brand posting primarily on LinkedIn will confuse a lot of people; the platform lends itself to more formal business voices. Forcing a casual, slangy brand into that mold could be a recipe for failure.

Influencer marketing and advertising deserve attention here, too. If your strategy involves partnering with influencers or celebrities to sell a product—and there are plenty of good reasons to go this route—pay careful attention to how and where they share their messages. You can’t demand that an influencer change their persona to advertise your product without defeating the point of influencer marketing. Instead, spend some time listening to and watching the people you want to partner with to find someone who naturally matches your brand’s voice.

For a great example, look to underwear brand TomboyX. The brand works hard to speak to the LGBTQ+ community in a voice that feels human, confident and aware. TomboyX found an ideal voice pairing in Cameron Esposito, with an influencer-esque ad that plays during Esposito’s podcast, QUEERY. The ad, which involves Esposito giving a positive review of her own experience with the brand’s product, sounds genuine and real, perfectly harmonizing with TomboyX’s voice.

4. Walk the talk

As we’ve discussed, content and copy are huge parts of brand voice definition—but that’s not where consistency ends. For a voice to feel honest and genuine, it has to be backed up by other brand elements, including visuals and products.

A lot of beauty and fashion brands have pivoted to include more “natural” messaging in recent years. “Organic,” “pure,” “unretouched” and similar terms have gone beyond slogans and now feel baked into brand personas. But, how many brands succeed when it comes to backing up those words with concrete action, both in terms of visual advertising and product offerings? Not many.

That’s part of what made American Eagle’s recent #AerieREAL campaign so refreshing: The brand translated its voice and values into its ad campaign photography. For many consumers, this was the first fashion campaign they’d seen that included models with disabilities—real bodies wearing the product they were advertising.

If you really want to sell your brand voice, you have to back it up. Otherwise, even the strongest voice will start to ring hollow.

5. Don’t be afraid to—consciously—grow and adapt

Finally, adjust your voice as your brand grows.

That’s not a call to revamp everything at the drop of a hat—constant rebranding won’t do much to help encourage company recognition or loyalty. But an occasional and purposeful shift to respond to a growing market or changing attitude can and should be encouraged.

A particularly relevant example of voice evolution is Soylent. It started out as a niche, DIY-focused product with a voice that spoke primarily to busy engineers and developers who cared more about the function than the form of what they were eating. The creator himself said that even the brand name was designed for “encouraging further discussion and thought,” solidifying the brand’s methodical, analytical voice.

However, as the product picked up new followers and expanded into new markets, that voice changed. It holds on to some of its original directness but now brings friendlier reassurance to the table. What once read as intentional austerity now feels more palatable.

Since the change, Soylent has seen more commercial success, moving into markets on Amazon and college campuses. It’s unlikely that it would have seen that level of success without some voice adjustment to better speak to its newer, larger audience.

Key takeaway

There’s no denying that it can feel daunting to establish your brand’s voice in a world that already seems saturated with a lot of noise. But, it’s not all about volume. Use the tips above to build a voice that resonates with your audience, and reap the benefits of better brand recognition and a better bottom line.

Do you struggle to manage your real estate brokerage? I don’t blame you—your list of tasks can feel overwhelming. With tracking leads, managing commissions and uploading new listings, there’s a lot that goes into selling properties.

But, there’s one thing that can help: Software.

If you’re enlisting the help of real estate software to help you manage each task, you could cut the time you spend on each activity—and boost your productivity in the meantime.

In this guide, we’re sharing a list of 12 incredible real estate softwares you can use for each major task you’re handling on a daily basis.

1. Copper CRM

Is your inbox out of control? Whether you’re inviting leads to an open house event or coordinating with someone selling their home, you might be struggling to remember who’s who.

That’s where Copper (formerly ProsperWorks) helps.

Because Copper is a CRM with G Suite integration, you can create profiles for each person you’re emailing—allowing you to follow email conversations and manage leads directly from your inbox, without needing to switch between several apps.

Copper - real estate software

Pricing: From $19 per month.

2. Propertybase

If you need more from your CRM, Propertybase is worth investigating.

This real estate software tracks and manages leads, while also featuring a marketing center to manage email campaigns, real-time lead generation dashboards—and even syndications with platforms like Rightmove and Zoopla.

Granted, it’s more expensive than Copper’s CRM, but it could be the only software you need to manage your brokerage.

Pricing: From $79 per user, per month.

3. QuickBooks

QuickBooks is an accounting tool that real estate companies can use to track their finances. But, what makes QuickBooks different is the control it gives businesses without tons of financial knowledge, looking for more than just a spreadsheet.

You can track transactions, along with:

Pricing: From $10 per month.

4. Placester

Every brokerage needs a website—that’s nothing new. But if you’re looking for a platform built specifically for realtors, Placester is fantastic.

Placester allows you to build modern, personalized websites with the aim of generating more leads for your properties. And, with several themes and lead capture templates to choose from, you don’t need a ton of HTML knowledge to create a strong website for your real estate company.

Placester - real estate software

Pricing: From $99/month, plus $99 setup fee.

5. PropertyWare

Are you managing a handful of rental properties at your brokerage? Another real estate software you should add to your list is PropertyWare.

Designed to act as a “toolbox for single-family property management,” PropertyWare is a web-based software that allows realtors to track payments, create online portals for tenants and owners, and screens tenants to make sure they’re high quality.

The best part? It’s built by property managers—so they know what they’re doing.

Pricing: From $1 per unit, per month (minimum 250 units), plus an implementation fee of 2x the monthly subscription.

6. Commission Trac

Creating commission reports can quickly get confusing. That’s where Commission Trac shines.

A real estate platform that allows brokers to manage commission plans, invoices and agent distributions, Commission Trac “streamline back office accounting” and take away the headache from managing commission cuts.

They’ve also partnered with organizations like the National Association of Realtors to offer members 20% off their plans.

Commission Trac - real estate software

Pricing: From $45 per month, depending on how many agents are in your brokerage.

7. HelloSign

Don’t let paper documents take over your office. Ditch the traditional scanners and use HelloSign instead—a tool that allows your clients or tenants to sign documents electronically.

You can use HelloSign for a variety of electronic documents, including:

Plus, HelloSign documents are legally binding (and enforceable in court).

HelloSign - real estate software

Pricing: Free for 3 documents per month; $13 per month thereafter.

8. ShowingTime

If you regularly schedule property viewings, ShowingTime is a software you’ll love.

ShowingTime is a real estate software that allows brokers to collect analytics and provide feedback on home showings. It also allows realtors to quickly schedule and confirm property showings, while helping to offer better customer service to their clients.

Nobody likes no-shows, right?

Pricing: Custom; demo required.

9. CityBlast

You’re likely familiar with marketing software that can help businesses supercharge their growth.

But, CityBlast is different to the rest. They focus solely on real estate businesses and have a live team who describe themselves as “social experts.”

They provide social media PPC campaigns to increase audience growth—meaning you could see more social followers, site traffic and hot leads if you’re enlisting their specialist help.

CityBlast - real estate software

Pricing: From $83.25 per month.

10. AreaPulse

For more in-depth reports on your properties, it’s worth checking out AreaPulse.

In this web-based real estate software, you’ll find every metric you need to track the success of your brokerage, including:

You’re also able to send AreaPulse reports to your potential customers, giving them a solid understanding of the property market. Plus, with the ability to track open rates on these emails, it’s a great way to identify which subscribers could become hot leads.

AreaPulse - real estate software

Pricing: From $49 per user, per month.

11. HouseCanary Value Report

Another incredible option if you’re looking to dive deeper into real estate analytics is HouseCanary’s Value Report tool.

They use data science, advanced software and predictive analytics to create the “most accurate automated valuation model”—meaning you get a full understanding of the local property market, forecast returns over the next three years, and set rent fees that are relative to the area.

Sounds awesome, right? (Spoiler alert: It is.)

HouseCanary - real estate software

Pricing: Custom.

12. Lucidpress

…We couldn’t share a list of real estate softwares without including ourselves, right?

Lucidpress gives brokers a nifty tool to create branded real estate marketing material—such as PDFs, social media images and newsletters—in one web-based portal.

There are hundreds of templates to choose from, making it perfect for real estate businesses that need ahold of their branding campaigns, but don’t have a clue about graphic design.

(Considering that consistent branding increases revenue by 23% on average, you’d be mad to miss this off your list.)

Pricing: From $5.95 per month.

Key takeaway

Now that you’re well-equipped with the real estate software you’ll need to manage your brokerage, it’s time to start seeing results.

Remember to determine which tools are affordable, and start with tools you need (versus the tools you want). You don’t want to go broke in the process.

You’ll soon be experiencing increased productivity—we’re sure of it.

Get started with Lucidpress, the brand management platform for real estate. It’s perfect for brokerages of any size.

Building out a successful brand doesn’t hinge on offering a great product or service alone. You also need smooth, efficient operations that are consistent from location to location.

The most popular restaurant chains, for example, draw customers in everywhere because food quality and service quality are consistent across the board. People know what they are going to get and there’s comfort in that knowledge.

Finding the best franchise management software tailored to the needs of your business is critical to its overall success. It will streamline day-to-day operations and keep everything from distribution to accounting running like a new high-powered engine.

Here’s a look at four examples of franchise management software designed to boost your brand.

Naranga

This versatile cloud and mobile platform is designed to streamline and automate both sales and operations. It’s used by more than 300 brands nationwide, and it handles a wide spectrum of needs for any franchise owner.

Franchise management software

Naranga assists with key functions needed to run day-to-day operations. It can be used to train employees, streamline communications, onboard new franchisees, conduct mobile field audits, organize local marketing efforts, and turn leads into sales. (Phew, what a list!) It features tools like commissions manager to construction tracker to help franchise owners stay on top of daily operations in all franchise locations.

Marketing 360

Advertising is the lifeblood of any brand. You can’t get customers without getting the word out first. Marketing 360 makes marketing so much easier to manage, so you direct your time and money down the avenues that are most effective.

Franchise management software

What sets Marketing 360 apart? It makes point-of-sale (POS) marketing a breeze. This platform features tools that track organic search results through keyword volume and ranking, analyze SEO performance for competitors through those same keywords, and segment and target ads to a specific demographic. Users can create branded webpages that include call-to-action buttons. The platform also makes it easy to customize and edit website templates.

Vonigo

This cloud-based platform sets the standard for service-based franchise software. It’s available with a monthly subscription that includes phone support and product tutorials. Vonigo offers an extensive customer management system that makes it easy to build client relationships and track all aspects of that relationship with built-in reporting tools.

Franchise management software

With the platform’s tools, you can create invoices directly from work orders and route online payments to the destination bank account. It also includes automated route sheets for dispatching, a Google Maps interface for appointments, email notifications, and on-screen signature capture. Cloud-based modules from Vonigo handle multiple tasks including CRM, scheduling, online booking, work orders, invoicing, payments and reporting. All of it is accessible from desktop and mobile devices.

Marq

Branding is paramount for franchises. You want a consistent brand message that reflects the quality of the products or services your company offers. If you want to scale your design and keep it consistent, Marq has you covered with web-based, lockable marketing templates.

Lucidpress - franchise management software

Marketing templates from Marq make it easy to localize your branding. Keep logos, fonts, images & colors all looking smooth, polished and professional. Its drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to combine images and text into eye-catching print and digital marketing materials.

See how D1 Training, a national sports training franchise, uses Marq to keep their brand consistent across every location.

Franchisees can customize and distribute pre-approved templates that prevent off-color or stretched logos. You can create, print and deliver direct mailers to multiple locations simultaneously with the Marq editor. A radial search function makes it easy to target prospects based on age, income, geographic location and other key demographic factors.

Key takeaway

Growing a franchise business is hard work, but it becomes much easier when you have the right tools in your toolbox. Give these four a try to see which one is the best franchise management software for your brand.

Get started with Marq, the brand management platform for franchises. It’s perfect for franchise brands of any size.

Turning your business into a franchise is an exciting process for you and future franchisees. An essential part of creating a franchise is drafting your franchise disclosure documents, often referred to as FDD. These documents help you determine whether your business should be turned into a franchise and how to plan the transformation.

The FTC created this document in response to a number of complaints. In years past, salespeople would convince franchisees to invest in a franchise without all the necessary information. This caused many people to lose their investments.

Now, the FTC states that franchisors must give potential franchisees the FDD at least 14 days before any contracts are signed or any money is exchanged, so the franchisee can make an informed decision about their investment.

Franchise disclosure documents have a very specific format, divided into 23 sections that cover all the information a potential franchisee might need to make an informed decision and sign a contract.

FDD sections explained

Below are the 23 sections that are required for a Franchise Disclosure Document and a brief explanation of what each of those sections cover.

1. The franchisor and any parents, predecessors, and affiliates

This section covers the history of your franchise business, any parent company or companies that have come before the current franchise. This is also where you give an overview of your business model, the competition, and an offer to become a franchisee.

2. Business experience

Provide the backgrounds of key directors, officers, managers and employees who have played a large role in the sale and management of the franchise. This section is all about giving an introduction to the key players in the franchise and reviewing their past business experiences.

3. Litigation

In this section, discuss any past or current litigation your franchise has been involved in. This level of transparency is critical for earning your franchisees’ trust and making sure they’re well-informed.

4. Bankruptcy

Here, you discuss any bankruptcy that has occurred within the business. This includes not just bankruptcy that’s occurred within the company, but also to any of the key people involved in the franchise.

5. Initial fees

This is where you outline any of the deposits and fees the franchisee will have to pay in order to gain ownership and start up their own franchise within your business.

6. Other fees

Here, you outline the fees that will continue for as long as they own and operate the franchise. What ongoing royalties or yearly fees will you charge your franchisees for advertising, renewal of their ownership, or transfers? Make sure you provide a complete and accurate list.

7. Estimated initial investment

This section covers any costs the franchisee will incur to get the franchise up and running. This includes advertising, the cost of operations, and any other costs that may arise before the franchisee starts making revenue.

8. Restrictions on sources of products and services

This is where you include any restrictions you have regarding the sources and types of products and services offered through your franchise.

9. Franchisee’s obligations

In this section, you provide a clear reference to all the obligations the franchisee is agreeing to when they sign this contract.

10. Financing

Here, you describe any financing options or programs available through the franchise.

11. Franchisor’s assistance, advertising, computer systems, and training

This section details the obligations you have as a franchisor when you sign a contract with a franchisee. This section tends to be the longest, as it includes any assistance you offer before their business is open, as well as any ongoing assistance. In this section, you also outline any advertising assistance that will be provided for the franchisee.

Include information regarding any franchisee training programs offered through the franchise, as well as the support offered through the computer systems used throughout the business.

12. Territory

This section covers any territory offered to the franchisee and whether the territory will be changed because of this agreement. This section is going to vary greatly between different franchises, as each has its own philosophies regarding territory.

13. Trademarks

Here, you include information regarding your franchise’s trademarks.

14. Patents, copyrights, and proprietary information

Similar to the previous section, this section outlines information regarding the patents, copyrights and other information about how the franchisee can use these copyrighted materials.

15. Obligation to participate in the actual operation of the franchise business

In this section, you explain the personal obligations the franchisee will have in the actual operation of the business. These can vary greatly, so be specific.

16. Restrictions on what the franchisee may sell

This is where you outline any products or services the franchisee cannot offer from their franchise locations. These restrictions will determine what franchisees can or cannot offer at their location.

17. Renewal, termination, transfer, and dispute resolution

This section covers the costs or renewal, termination or transfer for franchisees. This is also where you cover how you and franchisees will handle disputes. These policies are critical to running a smooth franchise operation with as few disruptions as possible.

18. Public figures

If you use public figures (e.g. celebrities or public persons) for advertising or promotions, then state the amount they are paid here.

19. Financial performance representations

This section is where you provide information regarding the financial performance of other franchise units. According to Entrepreneur:

“The typical Item 19 disclosure consists of three types of information: 1) numerical presentations of revenue and/or expense data, 2) notes and explanations outlining the assumptions used in preparing these numerical presentations, and 3) disclaimers that carefully explain the limitations of the usefulness of the data presented.”

20. Outlets and franchisee information

This section lists information about all the other units within the franchise. This includes updated contact information for each unit, such as addresses and phone numbers.

21. Financial statements

This is where you include audited financial statements from the last three years.

22. Contracts

This is where you should put all the contracts the franchisee will be required to sign. Organizing your contracts this way makes it easier to find and reference them later.

23. Receipts

Franchisees are required to sign a receipt stating that they received the FDD. This protects your business and proves to the FTC that you did your due diligence. It will be placed at the end of the FDD.

Key takeaway

Your franchise disclosure documents are vital to maintaining your business’ health and your franchisees’ success. It’s important that you keep this document in order, up-to-date, and written in clear, concise language.

Your brand matters. If you’re ready to build your franchise brand into a consistent, compelling force that drives your business, this guide will show you how to get started.

Taking your brand global is an exciting prospect but also a significant challenge. Establishing and growing your brand in your own country is challenging enough, but expanding it into other parts of the world will present hurdles different from any you’ve experienced before.

One of the principal challenges is maintaining consistency as the brand spreads into other cultures and regions. Being consistent, though, is key to success. That’s not to say you should ignore the differences between customers in different markets—you need to meet customer needs while still keeping your brand consistent, which is easier said than done.

Maintaining a strong brand while going global requires substantial research and planning, as well as careful monitoring. Here are 6 branding tips to remember when you’re going global.

1. Establish brand guidelines

Before attempting to expand a brand globally, the company should have well-established, consistent brand guidelines. It needs to distribute these guidelines to everyone who will represent the brand in any way and ensure adherence.

What should be included in brand guidelines? They cover the overall definition of the brand, visual style and content style. That’s not to say all of these elements need to be included in the same document, but they should all be well-defined. The guideline should define the brand’s values, mission and vision statement and include a description of the key messages you want to send, as well as the brand’s personality.

These guidelines should include rules for using the company’s logos, colors, fonts and any other visual elements. They should also describe its preferred voice and tone, any words that should be used and any to be avoided. The use of these guidelines must be enforced throughout the company to keep the brand consistent. This will be of immense value, since research shows that consistent brands expect to earn 23% more revenue annually than inconsistent brands.

2. Emphasize your values

Your brand guidelines should include a description of company values, but they should be emphasized through every aspect of the global expansion. This strategy consists of both customer-facing and internal elements and will help the brand maintain its essence, even if the details of how the company operates are different in new markets.

Making sure everyone in the company understands its values is crucial to consistency. Brand values can serve as a guidepost when trying to determine whether something is on brand or not. While representations of the brands should still be subject to review, understanding brand values can help keep ideas on track in the early stages.

3. Be aware of culture & language differences

Before expanding into a new region, a company should take time to research any aspects of culture or language that may affect how their brand is perceived. The business should also conduct a legal assessment to avoid inadvertently breaking any rules or regulations.

If your company is seeking to form partnerships and make business acquaintances overseas, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the country’s business culture. For example, in Singapore, it’s important to talk about any successes as a team effort. The interests of the group as a whole are generally put ahead of individual interests there—something you’d want to keep in mind if you were trying to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

When translating a brand into another language and culture, miscommunications are easily possible.

If a company doesn’t take sufficient precautions, it risks making a faux pas that could damage the brand. KFC fell victim to this issue when it expanded into China in the 80s. The company translated its slogan “finger-lickin’ good” to “eat your fingers off.” While KFC eventually recovered from the mistake, this slogan did not send the right message.

4. Keep it customer-focused

While you need to maintain brand consistency, you also need to ensure that you communicate your brand in a way that will resonate with the new customers you’re attempting to reach. You may need to make small adjustments to better appeal to customers in different regions, as well.

Determining what you can change to appeal to a new set of customers and what you can’t alter without sacrificing brand consistency is critical.

KFC provides us another example—but this time, in a positive way. In the 70s, KFC created a campaign in Japan called “Kentucky for Christmas” that encouraged Japanese customers to go to KFC on the holiday.

The campaign was a huge success because it capitalized on the fact that there weren’t many established Christmas traditions in the country. KFC still catered to one of the traditions that did exist in Japan, however, by including a special cake in its Christmas meal bundles.

5. Optimize your approval process

Companies should have an established approval process in place before expanding globally. This process helps employees to easily submit materials and enables company leadership to ensure brand consistency.

A complicated process can lead to off-brand materials slipping through the cracks. Once they do, these misbranded materials can spread, because people who see them will assume they’re acceptable.

Using a brand templating platform like Lucidpress can streamline the approval process, which encourages employees to get quick approval of their materials and move their projects forward.

6. Promote consistent internal communications

To orchestrate a global brand expansion, a company needs a strong internal communications system to ensure that all offices, departments and employees are on the same page.

You need a reliable communications system to inform everyone in the company of updates to branding guidelines, information about new products, details about new promotional products and more. Internal disconnect creates a risk of brand inconsistency.

Businesses should create an internal communications plan that includes information about communication objectives, target audiences, available channels and more. They must then monitor their progress to ensure that their internal communications are effective.

Also, everyone within a company who needs access to logos and other brand materials should have access to them. Using a cloud-based system like Lucidpress (through which employees can download logos from anywhere at any time) can resolve this issue seamlessly.

Key takeaway

Expanding a brand globally is, of course, no small feat. A global brand has many moving parts that all face different challenges based on their location. Despite these differences, the branding must be consistent throughout the entire company.

Achieving this kind of cohesiveness requires a well-defined brand and open communication about what the brand is to everyone in the company. That information and meaning can then be communicated effectively to customers across the globe.

Want to know more about the power of brand consistency? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

To get people interested in your brand and have them become loyal customers, it’s no longer enough to simply produce a good product or provide a great service.

What buyers are looking for today is an impeccable user experience—one that really makes them feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. This is why top brands appeal to their customers’ emotions; they realize most purchases aren’t rational. Your brand exists in the minds of your audience as all the experiences, impressions and interactions they’ve had with you, both positive and negative.

The power of branding is so incredible that 72% of marketers say branded content is more effective than print advertising. To help you harness that power, here’s our list of 9 ways to make people fall in love with your brand.

1. Focus on user needs, not features

This is where many brands go wrong. They choose to toot their own horn and go on about how great their product is, when in reality, the market couldn’t care less about it. What they really care about (whether they’re looking to buy a lawnmower or reaching out to cheap writing services) is what the brand and its product can do for them.

Make sure your brand focuses on how buying your product will solve a particular issue for your audience or address a particular pain point. Make them feel like the hero for choosing you.

2. Research what your target audience wants

While it’s fairly easy to assume that the attention span of most millennials is only a few seconds or that older generations are not present on social media… If you’re basing your branding strategy on these assumptions, you have failed spectacularly right off the bat.

Researching your target audience and identifying their needs is crucial if you want your brand to connect with them on an emotional level. Find ways to speak to your customers—and ideal customers—about what really matters to them.

3. Respond to consumer feedback whenever possible

According to research, 57% of consumers say that brand’s failure to respond to negative feedback is a good reason to cut ties with that brand. Responding to user feedback and acknowledging it, even if it’s negative, can help turn things around if you try your best to remedy the issue.

By responding to customer reviews and feedback, you’re showing that communication is a two-way street, and that your brand is not generic and faceless like all the others out there.

4. Provide a free solution

Obviously, the whole point of marketing and building your brand is to get potential customers to purchase from you—but getting there doesn’t have to involve you pushing for a sale. For example, you can provide your audience with helpful, applicable, free content that will help them overcome a particular problem.

What this does is inspire trust and establish you as an authoritative resource. When they’re ready to make a real purchase, your brand will be their first choice.

5. Deliver more than you’ve promised

One of the most effective ways to create a positive brand experience is to delight customers by delivering more than you initially promised. For instance, if you surprise them with a discount or throw in a free sample, they’ll be thrilled.

While it might be a sizable investment on your part, keep in mind that customer loyalty can be worth ten times more than a single purchase.

6. Find the right distribution channel

While mobile advertising and branding are the trend of the moment, how successfully you’re going to reach your consumer audience depends on how well you’ve done your research.

For instance, if you’re trying to reach older people with your brand, you might assume mobile advertising is off-limits. And while it’s true many of them don’t use social media, they do still use smartphones—which would mean that your brand might benefit from SMS marketing.

Think carefully about all your options, and don’t take any off the table before giving them proper consideration.

7. Tell a story

It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of making your brand’s message too salesy. A much better strategy is to tell a story with your message. For example, if you’re trying to sell an espresso machine, don’t talk about how it’s made of stainless steel or how it can make you a cup of coffee in less than 30 seconds…

Instead, focus on how amazing that first cup of freshly brewed coffee feels on a lazy Sunday while the kids are still in bed. You’re selling a better quality of life, and your product can make that happen. Figure out how to tell a story that captures what your brand can really do for your ideal customer.

8. Pay attention to the visuals

Up to 90% of purchases are influenced by visual factors—especially color, which can increase brand recognition by up to 80%. Having a website which features eye-catching responsive design is a must, but your brand identify should also extend to your social media, marketing materials and product packaging.

Every visual touchpoint is an opportunity to tell your brand story, so don’t let them go to waste.

9. Find out where your audience hangs out

Make peace with the fact that your brand cannot be all things to all people. While casting a wide net might help you attract a bigger audience, it might not be worth it when you take into account all the marketing expenses.

Instead, find your intended audience online and figure out what they want. Regardless of what your product or service is, there’s a target audience for it out there. It’s up to you to find out where they are, how they communicate, and what they value.

Key takeaway

These techniques will not only make people fall in love with your brand—they will keep them coming back for more. And when it comes to building brand loyalty and driving growth, that’s really the best-case scenario, isn’t it?

Want to know more about how to build your brand? Download our free ebook on how to build a brand in 2020.

At the onset of building a business, branding might not seem like the first thing to conceptualize. Establishing the foundations of your brand by creating a brand book could be a tedious process, but its long-term benefits are well worth the effort.

To help you get started, let’s review what a brand book is, what it does, why you should take the time to build one, and how to best go about it.

What is a brand book?

A brand book can also be called a brand bible, a brand style guide or a brand guide, among other similar terms. Essentially, it’s the document that sets distinct guidelines for maintaining brand identity across all aspects of the business.

From designers to marketers to sales teams, a brand book helps align different departments in communicating consistent messaging.

Some of the things included in a brand book are:

Why do you need one?

One of the biggest benefits of having a brand book is that it gives the business a framework of consistency and cohesion. This consistency and cohesive messaging serve as great tools for defining your company’s personality—which, when committed to over a period of time, breeds trust. Strong, consistent brands are valuable; we know from our research that consistent brands expect to earn 23% more revenue annually.

When your audience sees that there is consistency in color scheme, tone of voice, and logo usage across all platforms, it delivers a level of professionalism that tells your customers you’re a brand they can trust.

Pros of having a brand book

As pointed out by Mayven, having a detailed brand book establishes the voice and personality of a company, governing virtually every aspect of company communication. From in-house communications to marketing messaging, having a well-made brand book ensures everyone is on the same page, consistently delivering a unified message that’s always on-brand.

Cons of not having a brand book

On the flip side, the inconsistency that easily creeps up when you don’t take the time to create a brand book can confuse and, eventually, alienate your customers.

Imagine a coworker who’s always well put-together: perfectly ironed shirt, neat haircut, clean shoes. Now imagine if, out of nowhere, that same person came to work with unkempt hair, ripped jeans and a neck tattoo. You’ll inevitably feel uncomfortable because it’s just not something you’re used to from that person. Chances are, you’ll be wondering if everything was okay with that coworker or if there’s some inner turmoil going on.

Essentially, the same instinct applies to brands and the way they present themselves to their audiences. You don’t want to confuse your audience with mixed messages.

How to create a brand book: Setting up the brand

Before you create a brand book that guides all aspects of the business, you need to envision what you want the brand to be. This means understanding four key components: the brand’s mission, its vision (which includes core values), target audience and brand persona.

Mission

When you’re crafting your brand mission statement, don’t fall into the trap of stringing together buzzwords that merely result in empty concepts and vague statements. As noted by Branding Strategy Insider, settling for a mission statement of that ilk does little to guide the company or employees toward having and maintaining a competitive edge. On top of that, it doesn’t provide motivation or a daily mission to make each workday matter.

Instead of vague concepts, your mission statement should clearly establish:

Establishing these does a number of things for your business: it immediately helps employees figure out whether they fit what the company wants to be, it creates strong brand differentiation from competition, and it inspires consumer passion and engagement.

Vision

As noted by Goalcast, a strong vision statement will serve as a guiding force for all of your business decisions. It’s a virtual compass that points the company towards where it wants to be and what it wants to become.

To help craft your vision statement, you can ask questions like:

Paired together, your mission and vision statements serve as important start and stop points—tools that will guide you as you make strategic business decisions that refine your brand.

Brand persona

Establishing a brand personality is a key element in setting the tone for your brand messaging across all communication channels. Mixed messages make it harder for customers to connect and identify with your brand.

One age-old practice is thinking about what kind of person your brand would be. Do you want your brand to be straightforward and to-the-point? Or would you rather it be playful and witty?

There’s also the old is/is not exercise. This involves listing three to five adjectives that your brand is and three to five adjectives that it is not.

Whatever collection of traits you decide to incorporate into your brand persona, it’s best to turn those into a statement that guides your overall messaging.

Lucidpress—a brand templating platform—uses this:

Lucidpress is the intuitive brand templating platform that empowers anyone to easily create on-brand materials.

In this statement, you can see a number of descriptive branding words:

These traits drive our messaging and many other branding decisions, from how our software should feel to who would benefit from using our platform. Speaking of which…

Target audience

Just as you need to understand your brand, it’s likewise important to understand your target market. What types of people do you want using your products? Which ones do you want to visit your website, consume your content or subscribe to your emails?

To identify your audience, you need to have a solid understanding of what their needs, wants and values are—and how you factor into all of those.

The process of identifying and understanding your target market allows you to narrow down your audience focus. Your messages are always tailored to your audience, and it gives you a clear picture of what you need to be for a specific group of people.

How to create a brand book: Visual guidelines

Logo usage

Coming up with a distinct, identifiable logo is one thing. Ensuring that it remains optimized in different environments is another. This part of your brand book should include all approved versions of your logo and how it will be used in different platforms, from placement to acceptable alterations.

How to make a brand book

Source: Design Shack

As you can see with Adobe’s brand guidelines, it’s very clear how the logo should be used, including its placement, size and white space.

Color palette

Your brand’s color palette is another element that gives your business a consistent look and feel. Most brands choose four or fewer main colors that don’t stray too far from the hues of their logo. As you can see with Heineken’s color palette, they picked one light color for backgrounds, a darker color for text, a neutral hue, and one that gives design elements a bit of pop.

How to create a brand book

Source: 99designs

And just as it is with your logo, you need to outline how and when each color should be used (Which ones are for text and design elements? Which are for the logo, and which are for backgrounds?). Mayven also points out that you should define the following:

Typography

Similarly, there should be a defined font style for both print & digital applications. In your brand book, typography should cover how and when certain fonts are used, which typefaces are acceptable, as well as guidelines for additional styling, size, and use of color.

As pointed out by Mayven, most brands use one or two primary typefaces, a complementary typeface, and substitute typefaces.

Tone of voice

As with all the other elements on this list, your tone of voice needs to be consistent across all communication channels—email, social media, press releases, blog posts, ads, etc. Your voice should be aligned with your brand’s persona, mission, vision, values and target audience.

How to make a brand book

Source: 99designs

You can start by identifying words you like and don’t like to be associated with. Then, decide what type of language fits your brand persona and your target audience. Go back to your list of adjectives describing your brand personality to come up with language that is on-brand.

How to create a brand book

Source: Design Shack

Imagery

Apart from indicating whether you’ll be using photos, illustrations and other types of graphics (as well as when and how you’ll be using them), your brand book should also detail how images will be edited, which colors to place them with, and any other design elements related to image use.

Collect inspiration from successful brands, particularly those that have similar brand messaging as yours. You can also create a mood board with images that convey the feelings you want people to get when they interact with your brand.

Key takeaway

A thoughtfully crafted brand book will bring your business consistency, alignment and cohesion. To avoid confusion, your brand book needs to be detailed, covering all possible bases to ensure everyone’s on the same page. It will give every employee in the company a concrete framework to work with, while still giving them the freedom to do what they do best.

Running a business, in any capacity, takes hard work and perseverance. Specifically, though, for a franchise, there’s a whole different set of unique challenges for both franchisors and franchisees.

The primary challenge comes down to providing a consistent experience. It’s simple: A franchise must provide a consistent brand experience across each of its locations.

What’s not so simple is ensuring that every part of operations is being done the same way. How can you ensure that brand messaging and logos are easily accessible and up-to-date, or that the service is as good as it should be at every single one of your locations?

This article should provide you with a start on how to achieve brand consistency in your franchise.

Make sure franchisees know the importance of reputation management

Let’s first discuss your online brand image. This directly affects how customers feel about your brand.

A positive reputation is something that’s hard to get back once it’s ruined. There are a variety of different platforms in which customers can communicate with other customers about your brand including Yelp, Google, and other forms of social media.

Chris Conner, president of Franchise Marketing Systems, advises, “Right from the initial training with the franchisee, the franchisor should be educating and informing franchisees how brand management and reputation management are important and part of their operational responsibilities in running the franchised business.”

Conner adds: “Once a franchisee is operating and running day-to-day, the franchisor should have regularly scheduled calls with franchisees where reputation management is part of that discussion and addressed in each interaction.”

“Franchisors who are able to grow their networks effectively typically have incredibly strong and consistent mechanisms in place to monitor, respond and execute brand management responsibilities,” he concludes.

Maintain digital consistency

In order to maintain consistency where franchisees communicate with customers online, you need a clear-cut digital marketing plan. The plan should include guidelines for how franchisees communicate via social media, blogs, emails and webpages. Make sure you provide franchisees with easy access to logos, font style, imagery & photos, brand tone and language.

Social media is an integral part of our daily lives. Each location should have a separate Facebook and Yelp page so customers can visit locations and leave reviews. Whether each location needs a separate Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google+ or Instagram account is truly dependent on the brand.

Create a detailed social media policy answering questions like: What type of content should be posted—and what should not be posted? How should complaints and negative reviews be dealt with? You can streamline social media with a process to approve anything that goes out, create templates, or offer pre-approved content. That way, you don’t have to micromanage content for too many locations.

Let your franchisees know what your brand is

Franchisors need to feel confident about the brand before communicating what that brand is to franchisees. This encompasses everything from company-wide goals to how everyday operations are run.

Ask yourself the following questions, and once you’re confident in your responses, make sure your franchisees know it, too.

What is the brand?

Your brand includes the characteristics of your company that make it relatable to people. For example, popular sandwich franchise Subway is a casual, no-frills restaurant where customers can expect consistent, fast service with fresh ingredients.

What is the company’s mission? What are its values and goals?

Subway strives to serve fresh, delicious sandwiches that are made-to-order right in front of the customer. The team at Subway lists out three core values and principles on their website.

  1. “Always provide exceptional service to your valued guests.”
  2. “Provide the highest quality menu items at a price everyone can afford and enjoy.”
  3. “Keep operating costs low and ensure you have great systems in place and never stop improving.”

What story do you want to tell?

Subway offers healthy sandwiches at convenient locations around the world. Subway shows their customers that they have nutritional & community responsibility by “building stronger societies,” according to the company.

Who is buying your product or service? How do you market to them?

Today, it’s easier to understand who your customers are and what they’re looking for. According to customer identity company Signal, personalization is an important part of marketing for brands. When it comes to franchises, that means being able to speak to people in different markets on a personal level. For example, franchises can offer personalized online communication experiences (e.g. paid advertising, personalized emails, etc.).

Don’t forget the details

It might be obvious, but staying consistent in a franchise is about every little detail.

Gary Findley, CEO at Restoration1 and established franchise sales expert, writes that consistency is the most important factor when it comes to business success.

He writes, “Balancing brand uniformity while respecting franchisee independence and regulating brand messages while effectively targeting local communities are two of the struggles that often arise.”

To help achieve this balance, there needs to be a consistent aesthetic, product & experience at each location.

Strengthen franchisor / franchisee communication

Determining how each franchisee should operate and what brand consistency looks like is only half the battle. The real challenge comes in longevity: making it last. To build long-lasting marketing and operations, use the following process.

Key takeaway

It can be difficult for a franchisor to maintain consistency across marketing and operations within a franchise… while also targeting local customers in different communities. Don’t give up on making your franchise marketing consistent.

For the best results, make sure franchisees know the importance of reputation management. Stay consistent with messaging across digital platforms, educate franchisees about your brand, pay attention to the details, and keep the lines of communication open.

Give your new franchisees a head start with our free ebook: The franchise owner’s field guide to success

What is brand authenticity? Well, generally speaking, it’s when brands act, illustrate and feel (or be) genuine to their customers. 

The byproduct of brand authenticity is more important than brand authenticity itself — i.e., brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is the emotional affirmation of your brand’s authenticity. And brand loyalty is what drives your revenue. 

But brand loyalty requires hard work and patience. And it involves understanding your customers’ core values and delivering on them. 

So, what makes a brand authentic? 

Brands that do all three are brands that customers prefer and trust. How can you adopt these qualities and make your brand more authentic? 

We gotcha!

TIP 1: Be reliable – Quality over quantity, and keep your promises

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, there’s an authenticity deficit in the global marketplace today. Not all brands keep the promises they make, not all communicate honestly, and not enough place the customer’s interests above their own. 

Take any variety of tech companies for instance (with admittedly the exception of large-scale corporations like Google, Facebook and so forth… kindly ignore those!) PayPal comms SVP Franz Paasche said: “Tech brands combine the excitement of innovation with [making] the everyday living of life easier, and that gives you a trusted role in people’s lives.”

For example, even when Microsoft felt customers brand loyalty wane after the launch of its disastrous Vista operating system, they hit the ground running to find out why it let their customers down and focused its efforts on trying to right the wrong.

Kathleen Hall, advertising and marketing VP of Microsoft, said: “We went back to our consumers and did a global study, visualizing what the brand meant to them. There was consistency worldwide: Microsoft means opportunity, access and connection, a combination of strength and possibility.”

Ten years later, the company is still enjoying the fruits of that study. The idea is to take stock of what people need and expect from you, then deliver on your promises. What you do on the ground can sometimes speak more than your marketing dollars ever could.

TIP 2: Be respectful — Customer-centricity is key to revenue growth

By far, the most important aspect of a brand’s authenticity is its customer-centricity.

It’s crucial to treat your customers as the most pivotal part of your business. You don’t need a major PR push to show the world how much you care, instead what you need are genuine efforts to deliver the basics and help your customers.

Take the Patagonia brand as an example. The company mission statement is to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” To that end, the company has many checks in place to ensure it hits on that mission statement. Such as:

Now, that’s just the beginning. To see for yourself, check out Patagonia’s core value page!

TIP 3: Be real – Personalize customer communications

Authenticity doesn’t come from the product or service you sell, but from how, why and where you sell it. 

Winning brands take great pains to communicate with customers in ways that feel personal. They see themselves as a productive part of the customer’s life, and each marketing message is personalized for them. They nail practices like cross-cultural marketing, localization, creating dedicated websites for different countries, and identifying as a local brand despite being a global brand.

By being real, you inevitably build trust and rapport with your customers. And to establish that trust, you need to be honest in your words and actions. Michael Boychuk, the former executive creative director of Amazon, said: “You can say whatever you want, however, you want to say it, but if you’re not interacting with people authentically, advertising is nothing.”

Be really reliable, respectful — and really real

Be reliable, be respectful and be real. That’s what gets customers to trust you and perceive you as an authentic brand. Revenue and profits are a byproduct of customer-centricity. Always remember that a good brand serves the customer. If you can take these ideas to heart, you’ll build better brand authenticity than millions of marketing dollars ever could.

Want to know more about the power of a strong brand? Download our free 32-page report, chock full of stats & great insights.

Social media has changed a lot over the last decade—and the way marketers manage social media channels has changed, too. Few marketers have the bandwidth to stay on social media all day, curating and sharing content as they go. Many of us have additional job responsibilities, and we have to be structured and deliberate about the time we dedicate to social.

Fortunately for us, there are lots of tools out there designed to make social media management easier and more efficient. From finding sharable content to scheduling posts, the 30 tools listed below can help you streamline and automate the tasks you can—so you have more time to spend on the ones you can’t.

What is social media automation?

Before jumping into the list and trying out the tools, let’s quickly clarify what we mean by automation. Social media automation is using software or tools to accomplish specific tasks on social media platforms without human intervention. Put simply, it means using a program to automate things like posting and sharing content on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

30 best social media automation tools

Without further ado, let’s get to our list. You’ll find big players and small players here, with a variety of specialties and capabilities, so there’s something for everyone. The descriptions are short, just to give you a general idea of each tool’s primary strengths. If you want more info, give one a click and check out their website.

Our picks for the 30 best social media automation tools out there today are…

1. Buffer

One of the market leaders, this popular tool lets you schedule & publish upcoming posts across all of your social media accounts. It also offers excellent analytics on your campaigns.

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is another popular choice. You can use it to schedule your posts and monitor the competition. Using search streams, you can more easily build a community of followers.

3. Workflow

With Workflow, you can craft the ideal workflows (hence the name) so that the right content is always shared at the right time.

4. SocialPilot

The tool automates the process of scheduling content across various social media accounts. You can also learn more about your followers, so you can determine the right content to post.

5. IFTTT

An acronym that stands for “If this, then that,” this free tool lets you set up rules for how different tools, apps and social media platforms trigger one another. It’s a simple concept that’s hard to explain, so pop over to their website for details and examples.

6. Sendible

The tool is designed to help you schedule updates, reply to followers, create reports, and collaborate with others.

7. Later

Later is a powerful tool for Instagram scheduling that boasts over 600k customers. Unlike many social media tools, you can use this one to manage comments.

8. Tailwind

Tailwind is an automated scheduling and analytics tool that’s great for Pinterest. It will recommend the best times for you to post to reach your audience.

9. CoSchedule

This application helps you to schedule all your posts. In fact, you can schedule over 60 posts at once! You can also use it to lay out your social media calendar.

10. Post Planner

This simple tool helps you to find content and schedule posts for your social media accounts.

11. Iconosquare

Iconosquare arms you with personalized information about your social media accounts that will help you manage activities more efficiently.

12. Agorapulse

You can easily plan and schedule posts across your social networks with this tool, but it’s also useful for tracking performance.

13. Crowdfire

This automation tool helps you root out inactive Twitter followers. It’s also worth using if you want to discover the right cadence and content to share with your audience.

14. Socialert

Social media listening is made much easier when you use this tool. Again, it’s all about finding the best content for your audience and being part of conversations as they happen.

15. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is popular with content marketers because it’s great at finding trending topics. Results can be filtered based on location and domain. You can also find influencers here and start building relationships with them.

16. Scoop.it

With this tool, you can easily curate content from other sources and share in a way that reflects your brand’s personality and values. You can also use it to set up a smart social calendar.

17. Pocket

This “read later” tool lets you save content you find around the internet. The service is free, and you can access it anywhere, so you’ll never lose track of that one awesome article you found again.

18. Sprout Social

Designed to help small businesses use social media more effectively, this tool automates posting. It can also help you engage with an audience and monitor the competition.

19. Mention

You’ll never miss a conversation your brand is mentioned in when you use this tool. It’s also great for identifying influencers and monitoring keywords in real time.

20. TweetDeck

TweetDeck is an awesome free service for social media listening on Twitter. You can set up custom timelines to track brand names, usernames, hashtags, keywords and more.

21. SocialOomph

SocialOomph makes it really easy to manage your Twitter accounts. Effortlessly schedule tweets, track keywords, and more.

22. MeetEdgar

MeetEdgar is a fascinating take on social media automation. You can build a library of content you’d like to share across different platforms, and Meet Edgar will automatically schedule it for you—including repeat posts. It can even write variations of your posts to keep things fresh.

23. Everypost

Everypost is perfect for brands who want to schedule and share visual content on social media.

24. Facebook Pages Manager

No surprise here, this app helps you manage your Facebook pages effectively. You can get insights on traffic, clicks and views from its main menu.

25. Zoho Social

With Zoho Social, you can schedule as many posts as you like and monitor keywords & trends. It’s great for teams who collaborate on social media.

26. SocialFlow

This is one of the best tools for publishers, because it replaces arbitrary scheduling with data-driven scheduling, so your audience is engaging with you in real time.

27. Social Studio

Social Studio by Salesforce offers marketers a range of features such as publishing posts across various platforms, social media listening, and managing marketing commands.

28. Sprinklr

This tool helps you to achieve end-to-end social media marketing management. Data is unified across platforms, and publishing is automated.

29. DrumUp

DrumUp is an interesting tool that helps you discover and share meaningful content with your audience.

30. Kontentino

The last tool on our list provides you with easy, flexible workflow management. Content is easy to schedule, share and modify.

Bonus: Lucidpress

That’s right—it’s yours truly! If you’ve used Lucidpress before, you might be asking yourself: Why are we including ourselves in this list?

The answer: because Lucidpress has a host of new features that actually make it easier than ever to streamline social media for brands.

Everyone knows we offer some of the best free social media templates around—but have you ever considered creating your own branded templates with certain elements locked down?

Imagine if, instead of starting with a blank slate, you could always start with a perfectly sized template that uses your brand’s colors, fonts & logos. That would save a lot of time, right?

Don’t forget, you can share your Lucidpress designs straight to Facebook, Twitter and Buffer… without ever leaving the tool. That makes it a one-stop shop for creating beautifully branded social media posts and sharing them to your platforms of choice.

Key takeaway

Social media automation helps you discover and share the right content at the right time. Automation tools can also help you analyze audience behavior, monitor conversations, keep an eye on competitors, and more. For the best results, consider your business’s goals with social media (and your preferred budget) before selecting a tool.

Ready to drive more leads and engagement with social media? Grab a copy of our free ebook: How to adapt your brand to social media

What’s the one gift everyone likes to receive? It’s cash.

Seriously, have you ever seen a person trying to return a cash gift or leaving it on a shelf to collect dust? I have never. For some gift-givers, however, cash is too simple and impersonal, so they go for the next best thing: gift cards.

Today, nearly all major retailers offer gift cards, and consumers love them. Stats show that people spend over $130 billion on gift cards per year, which is roughly 0.5% of the entire retail market.

Needless to say, retailers love gift cards, too. They’re easy to implement (especially if you’re an online seller), and besides increasing revenue and ensuring cash flow, gift cards also help with customer acquisition and loyalty.

But the question is, does offering gift cards affect brand equity? In other words, how do consumers, in general, perceive businesses that offer gift cards?

And finally, after all is said and done, should you offer gift cards in your store? (Here’s a hint: gift cards come with some risks but also great rewards for building a brand.)

Risk: Unused gift cards can make your brand look bad

Here’s the thing.

Even though gift cards are one of the most-wanted gifts people look forward to receiving on holidays & birthdays, nearly one-third of consumers never use the gift cards they’ve received.

That’s where your brand equity could suffer.

Stats show that out of $130 billion spent on gift cards, approximately $1 billion is lost in unredeemed gift cards. The gift card & credit card marketplace CardHub even found that between 2008 and 2014, consumers had lost over $44 billion in the form of unused credits.

A study by Dan Horne analyzed the impact of unredeemed gift cards on businesses, and it concluded that too many unused gift cards can harm the brand’s image. When gift cards are left unredeemed, the company basically gets money for nothing. “Consumers feel that retailers have taken advantage of them,” the author concludes.

Besides the people who forget about their gift cards, there’s another group: those who try to get rid of an unwanted gift by reselling it online. The problem is, the more often your brand’s gift cards are sold off online—via social media or on platforms specifically created for reselling—the less valuable they’re perceived to be.

Think about it.

The fact that many people are trying to get rid of your store’s gift card makes the products you sell look unwanted. Besides, the more users selling gift cards from the same brand, the lower resale price they offer. That may lower consumers’ perceived value of your products, and your business may start to find it difficult to sell them for the full price.

Rewards: Increased brand awareness, trustworthiness & reliability

Despite the challenges gift cards may pose for your brand, they’re still a great marketing & branding tool.

First of all, gift cards increase brand awareness.

“Imagine a gift card as a tiny billboard advertisement for your company inside the wallets of your customers. Every time they open up their wallets to pay for something, they see your brand on their gift card,” explains Ruby Camara, Chief Customer Officer of SixthContinent.

By offering gift cards or certificates in elegant custom packaging, you can boost your brand’s perceived value. Perhaps even more importantly, it helps your gift-buying customers look as though they’ve put more thought & consideration into choosing the gift.

“Gift cards may be small in size, but these mini-billboards come with very large branding opportunities,” concludes Dana Lambert, Associate Creative Director for The Motion Agency.

Secondly, gift cards can boost your brand’s trustworthiness.

Let me explain.

Having your gift cards placed in stores next to big players like Apple & Starbucks makes your business look like one of the big players, too. That’s a great way for lesser-known brands not only to attract more eyes but also to improve their trustworthiness.

Now, if selling your gift cards in stores is not an option for your business, offering digital gift cards might do.

According to Canadian POS, “Stores that sell gift cards are representative of the upper echelon of retailers.” That is, adding gift cards to your product catalog causes shoppers to perceive your brand more seriously. “This is most likely due to the fact that all major retailers offer gift cards,” Canadian POS assumes.

SixthContinent, a platform that offers gift cards for brands of all sizes in one place, believes that it’s beneficial for small companies to be placed next to big brands. “That increases the visibility and, eventually, the sales of that company as well,” they observed.

Finally, gift cards increase customer loyalty.

And loyal customers make your company look reliable.

When shoppers keep returning to the same retailer for more, it shows other potential customers (and the general public) that this company is doing something right.

When it comes to gift cards, studies show that it’s an effective way to build a loyal customer base. It’s been found that referred customers—including those who’ve discovered a brand through a gift card received from a friend—are likely to become loyal return customers as well.

By giving gift cards to friends and family, we show that we trust a brand enough to recommend it to people we care about. We put those mini-billboards into friends’ wallets, and that way, we make sure they keep thinking of the brand. That’s the perfect recipe for building brand loyalty.

Key takeaway

Gift cards offer great possibilities for improving brand equity—on the condition they’re actually redeemed. Companies that see gift cards only as an additional revenue source and hope to make extra money “for nothing” will lose the game in the long-term.

Brand management isn’t for the fainthearted. Even companies with well-documented brand-building strategies struggle to keep up with an ever-evolving list of marketing channels used to communicate with clients.

One of the core strengths of Lucidpress is that our platform helps you build a cohesive brand across your entire organization. Admins create templates and lock down the important brand elements. Users can customize templates but can’t change any elements locked into place to maintain brand unity.

The digital files marketing teams create with Lucidpress (or any other graphic design software) are commonly called marketing assets. The term immediately brings to mind the many software packages commonly referred to as digital asset management (DAM) or media asset management (MAM) systems.

Today we’re going to take a closer look at these systems and how they relate to brand management, including the benefits of keeping tabs on all that marketing content.

What DAM is and why it matters

Digital asset management is the process of organizing and making digital files available across an organization, managing them, and tracking their usage.

The term is often confused with marketing asset management, but digital asset management can cover files from other departments as well. Even though accounting may have ownership of a specific file — like a vendor setup form — managers from other departments might need to access the form or provide it to other parties.

Unlike the office environment of 20 years ago, paper is no longer the way people primarily communicate. Digital asset management is the online equivalent of an office filing cabinet.

Why does it matter?

DAM often involves a cross-functional team assembled from different departments including IT, marketing and operations.

When looking at DAM software options, most emphasize file management and organization for marketing departments. However, files can be shared across an entire organization, within single departments, or even with outside vendors & contractors.

Keeping content in order was originally handled by the marketing department. But as enterprise IT needs grew, so did the need for technical specialists to step in and help with DAM.

Very large companies often hire digital asset managers to handle this task for the entire company. Digital asset management is also gaining ground in the MarTech community.

There are some drawbacks to traditional DAM systems, including version control and poor customer experience. Since these systems run the gamut from very simple tools to complex custom builds, we’ve created a buyer’s guide to help you understand how these systems work.

Because Lucidpress is a branding platform, we take brand protection and file management very seriously. Our software can serve as a very simple DAM or integrate with more complex solutions, depending on the size and needs of a particular business.

Digital asset management (DAM) vs. marketing/media asset management (MAM)

We’ve touched on the fact that digital asset management and media/marketing asset management are different.

If you try to search for a DAM system that only handles files from accounting, you probably won’t find one. This is because, in most enterprise companies, the marketing (and sales) department produces the largest amount of digital assets.

That being said, the definition of digital asset management as a business practice differs tremendously from the definition of DAM software.

Additionally, marketing asset management and media asset management are often used interchangeably, even though they have different meanings.

Let’s clear up the confusion here with a few definitions:

Understand the difference now? It can be confusing when you spot all of these in the wild, but these definitions are something you can refer back to if needed.

Marketing asset management use cases

According to CampaignDrive, there are four generic use cases for marketing asset management that are typically handled by DAM software:

  1. Content creation. This is where Lucidpress excels and most DAMs fall short. Some DAMs assist with content creation, but marketing content usually requires graphic design or other programs built for professional creation.
  2. Version control. Most DAMs are focused on content storage, which means you only have access to the current version of any particular file. However, some do allow you to view file history, publish to the final channel and focus on version control.
  3. Print & offline marketing. Although companies often operate with a digital-first mentality, certain industries like e-commerce and local business services often need to invest in print marketing as well. DAMs really shine here, as print designers can pull logos, previously printed pieces, and other brand elements as needed.
  4. Local marketing. Enterprise companies with local branches (such as franchises and restaurants) have a greater need for customization & control, as marketing teams in the field might not always have or use correctly branded assets. A few DAM systems support “distributed DAM” or local marketing automation (LMA) to help with this.

Types of files typically included in marketing asset management

Your marketing department often handles many different file types, depending on the channels and campaigns it manages. Given how many there are, it’d be impractical to list every file type supported by a particular DAM or MAM system.

Instead, let’s paint this with a broad brush. Generally speaking, MAM systems are mostly used for audio & video file management. DAM systems are mostly used for file types that aren’t as large or complex, like documents & graphics.

That’s not to say you can’t use a DAM system to store videos. But, a MAM system is better built to support them, from the interface to search capabilities to storage capacity. It might seem like a small distinction now, but those factors become more important as your library grows.

Marketing asset management ROI: Who benefits from marketing asset management?

For enterprise companies, the marketing department directly benefits from having a formal system in place. It saves time for designers who are looking for branded templates and the latest version of your logo and other marketing materials. Brand managers save time, too, because final quality checks will be faster and easier.

Another practical benefit: Properly organized files with good version control will save you money & embarrassment by preventing incorrectly branded print & digital ad campaigns.

Another benefit of marketing asset management is that it improves the relationship with IT. Many art departments and in-house creative studios already work side-by-side with dedicated IT employees, and having a formal system to manage files can help both sides stay on the same page.

Overloaded servers, multiple versions of the same file, and other problems create real headaches for companies trying to manage computer networks and hard drive space. Marketing asset management helps alleviate that, especially if the company has a dedicated digital asset manager.

Employee productivity is another benefit of marketing asset management, since creatives spend less time looking for files and more time fulfilling creative requests.

Key takeaway

Marketing asset management is a fairly new concept, but it’s already distinguishing itself from digital asset management in a few key ways. Understanding whether your brand would benefit from DAM, MAM, or a combination of both will make it easier to build the right system for your business.

Learn more about digital asset management in our comprehensive buyer’s guide.

Your brand is one of your company’s most powerful assets. It encapsulates everything you want people to know about the business—what you value, what you stand for, and what you’re trying to do.

Which is why brand extension can be such a stressful process. Using the strength of your brand to enter a new market gives you a headstart that new companies can’t match.

Understanding how to extend your brand is crucial for engaging markets. Before you launch a new product or adopt a new strategy, you’ll need to think about a few things.

Before we get into those things, though, let’s agree on a brand extension definition.

What is brand extension?

Brand extension is the use of an existing brand name and logo on a new product. The original brand identity is called the parent brand, and the new products are called spin-offs. Companies use this strategy to capitalize on the brand equity of their existing brand to launch new products and enter new markets.

Let’s look at Apple. For 25 years, the company built personal computers. And they were good at it. That’s what they were known for—powerful, attractive computers that were easy to use.

And then they entered an entirely new industry: personal music devices. The iPod was an immediate and immense success. We’ll talk about how Apple pulled this off in a bit. First, let’s talk about why it was a good idea.

Why brand extension is so powerful

Apple had built a very strong brand over 25 years of making personal computers. Why would they risk diluting that brand by entering a new industry? The stakes are high, and the chance of failure keeps many business owners from even considering a big move like this one.

But Apple knew that building on their brand would be immeasurably valuable if they did it right.

Companies spend years and millions of dollars solidifying their brand. Marketing campaigns, social media interactions, advertising, public relations, and product development all contribute to a brand’s strength.

Why? Because consumers recognize and value brands. People are more likely to buy products from brands they know, whether they feel explicit brand loyalty or not.

This type of brand recognition means that the presence of a strong parent brand—like Apple—can significantly boost the sales of new products. Introducing a completely new product is hard. It’s much easier when that product is backed by a recognizable brand.

But sometimes his type of thinking can get companies into trouble.

Where brand extension goes wrong

Not every brand extension builds on a strong brand to create huge sales. Let’s look at an entertaining brand extension failure: Zippo Fragrances.

Zippo is a very strong brand in the world of cigarette lighters. Their name, design, and even the sound of the product is very distinctive. If you see a Zippo, you know it. Can you name another brand of non-disposable lighter? Probably not.

This is a strong brand. Zippo wanted to use their brand equity to enter a new field.

Why they picked perfumery is anyone’s guess.

The company actually used some good brand extension tactics. They kept the brand name and even used their distinctive lighter design for the perfume and cologne bottles.

But absolutely no one thinks of Zippo when they think of perfumery. Instead of seeing the brand and thinking, “I trust Zippo,” people think “Why would Zippo make a cologne?” That’s a failed brand extension.

Zippo missed a crucial ingredient of the brand extension recipe.

How to get it right

If you’re thinking about extending your brand, it’s worth looking at some recent successes. Look at Tesla’s expansion into trucking, for example. O, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine. Tootsie Pops. Virgin Airlines (and dozens of other Virgin-branded forays).

What do these brand extensions have in common? Above all, they play to the parent brand’s strengths. Tesla already knows how to build great vehicles. Oprah knows how to tell stories that capture the hearts and minds of her audience. Tootsie Roll knows how to make a candy that people love. Virgin knows customer service better than almost anyone.

Successful brand extension strategies place the new product as a logical extension of previous ones. That’s why Zippo perfume isn’t a household name. Everyone knows Zippo for their lighters. Their brand equity didn’t transfer to their beauty products.

Apple knew their brand equity would transfer to the iPod because their brand was already adjacent to the music device industry.

Be careful with brand extensions to reap their rewards

Brand extensions can be hugely valuable. But when used without enough forethought, they can also be disastrous.

It’s crucial to give any potential brand extension a great deal of thought. If you do decide to extend your brand, make sure to apply your branding consistently to take advantage of the loyalty that you’ve been building for years.

Don’t be like Zippo. Be like Apple.

How can brands stay competitive in today’s design-centric world? Explore the rise of the design democracy, then learn how your organization can ride it to the top.

Here’s a promise: by the end of this article you’ll know exactly what a brand promise is and you’ll have plenty of examples that will help you have your own in a matter of minutes.

And there’s something more.

Are you ever a bit confused about some of the marketing jargon out there?

Maybe you’re wondering:

I understand—everyone is using these terms with their own interpretation, right?

Fortunately, by the end of this article, everything will be clear. Promise.

Ready? Let’s dive right in!

What is a brand promise?

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say Las Vegas? Was it something related to gambling, poker, blackjack, casinos or nightlife?

What’s the first thing you think about when I say Volvo? Was it something related to safety?

What’s the first thought you have when I say Mercedes? Was it something about quality and luxury?

You see, a brand promise is your perception of how you feel about a brand.

A brand promise is not a tagline.

Do you know the tagline of Mercedes or Volvo?

Probably not, right? But you know what their promise is.

You know that they promise you a luxury car (Mercedes) or a safe car (Volvo).

And there’s one more important thing. You know that they can keep their promises.

But, this is starting to sound like a unique value proposition, right? You promise something that only you have, and people will remember you. Or… is it?

Let’s see.

A brand promise is not a unique value proposition (but it incorporates one).

A unique value proposition (or a unique selling point) basically says:

  1. What you do
  2. Who you serve (or sell to)
  3. How you solve your customer’s needs
  4. And how you’re different.

Here are a couple of examples:

For {target} who {statement of the need or opportunity}, {Name} is {product category} that {statement of benefit}.

For content marketing companies who always have tight deadlines, ContentBoost is the content creation software which helps teams produce long-form articles, blog posts and ebooks on high-speed because it lets you build on each other’s ideas.

We help X do Y doing Z

We help content creation teams write better and faster by dragging and dropping research into documents.

We do X, but the difference is {primary differentiator}

We help content teams put all their content together, but the difference is that writers are also able to pull from that database and add to a library of bite-sized research.

Is this enough to have a strong brand promise? Let’s do a quick imagination exercise.

You and I don’t know each other.

But let’s say we randomly meet at an event, and I tell you I recently started a company that creates the safest cars on the road ever — even better than Volvo.

Basically, let’s say I just tell you my unique value proposition. A simple statement that says what my company does for who and how we’re different.

Would you believe me? Probably not, right? You’ve just met me.

And if someone asked you half a year later what the top 3 safest car brands are, would you mention my company?

There’s probably 0 chance you have that instant association between my company and your safety. This is why a unique selling point is different than a brand promise.

So what is, in fact, a brand promise?

There are two kinds of brand promises: an implied one and an explicit one

For instance, an element of every airline company’s brand promise is that they will get you to your destination safely. You don’t have to promise that any more. It’s an obvious (implied) brand promise.

Let’s take another example.

A restaurant’s implied brand promise will be that they provide great food with great service. No one comes to a restaurant expecting an awful customer experience, right?

But, there are also other elements that are explicitly stated.

For instance, when FedEx first started out, they promised you that they “will get your package to you by 10:30 am the next day.”

This is a promise that 1) was different from what everyone else had, and 2) was also something people might not expect, so they stated it explicitly.

Here’s the most simple, short and down-to-earth brand promise definition:

A brand promise is what you instantly KNOW and FEEL about a brand.

But how do you create such a lasting brand purpose or promise? How do you get people to instantly associate your brand with a certain quality like safety, quality, luxury, or whatever you want?

How do you move people from being total strangers to trusting your brand?

You will see that a brand promise is, in fact, more like a process — and it’s part of the whole branding strategy and brand identity.

Let’s see what the essential elements you should take into consideration are if you want to create an effective brand purpose that people will remember.

1) Start with a promise that you would tell a friend

If you want people to remember something about your brand, it first must be clear for you what that something is.

And the way you do that is by actually telling it to a friend or an ideal customer.

Let’s do a short exercise that will help you create a first draft of your brand promise.

Imagine you’re drinking a coffee with your core customer. He is right in front of you, and he’s the best buyer in the world:

And now, he is just waiting for a reason to buy something from you.

What do you promise him in exchange for his hard-earned money?

It all boils down to this:

If you give me X amount of money I PROMISE I will give you _____ {this product / service} which will help you do / achieve / become _____ {introduce benefits} better than ____ {other services/products} because ____ {why you’re unique}.

Let’s say you’re the marketing manager or the CMO of an electronic e-commerce business.

Here’s an example of what your brand promise can be:

If you give me $1000, I promise I will give you this super-fast, octa-core laptop which will help you simultaneously work on however many engineering programs you want (without buffering or crashing).

What makes us unique is that we’re the only ones who use quantum computing, and we’re also the only ones who offer 10 years’ guarantee on every single product you buy from us.

You see, the brand promise isn’t a tagline. It isn’t “Just do it” or “Think different.” Because that’s not what you would say to a person face-to-face.

And this doesn’t have to be limited to a single product or service. It can be also adapted to a more general promise.

Let’s take the example above and apply it to the company level.

If you choose to do business with us, I promise you’ll never have to suffer from having a dysfunctional device, whether it’s a phone, laptop or any other electronic device.

This is because we’re the only ones who have developed special partnerships with all our suppliers, and we’re giving you not just a 10-year guarantee for almost any product you get from us, but free full service and support for the period your device isn’t functioning properly.

But is that all? This is the brand promise?

What if someone else comes along and says the same thing — or what if you don’t have something so unique to begin with?

What if, for instance, you want to create a brand promise for a restaurant, but you don’t have any special dishes?

This is how you start developing a more effective brand promise.

If you want people to remember it and instantly associate the quality you want — like great customer service, for instance — you also need the next elements.

2) Create a mental movie in people’s minds by making everything ultra-specific

One day, a friend of mine decided to do a little experiment:

He randomly called about 10 local pizza shops. He said something like: “Hello, I want to come to your place with 10 friends, but one of the guys insists on going to another restaurant. I need your help to convince him: why is your pizza better?”

Here are just some of the responses he got.

Response #1: (Annoyed) “Hmm… Not sure. It’s your call.”

That’s how not to make a promise…

Response #2: “We use high-quality ingredients.”

This sounds good, but what does quality mean? Plus, do you know anyone who says they don’t use high-quality materials, no matter what they’re selling?

You see, this is an implied brand promise. Quality, great customer service, great food, etc.

You don’t go to a restaurant and expect bad food, right?

So, there must be a better way to make a brand promise. Let’s look at another response my friend got.

(Full disclosure: the person who answered this time was actually the owner of the restaurant.)

Response #3“Oh, well, we use high-quality ingredients. For instance, our sauce and flour are made with true Italian ingredients.

Take the cheese, too. It’s not just cow-milk mozzarella. Instead, we use a buffalo-milk mozzarella.

And there’s also the sauce. Sir, we don’t use pre-prepared sauce. We use genuine San Marzano tomatoes right from Italy!

We’ve been handcrafting pizza for 5 generations. With every crispy bite you take, you taste 90 years of pizza-baking mastery!”

You see, the promise is really simple: You get tasty, Italian pizza with high-quality, authentic ingredients, and you can be sure it’s good because they’ve been perfecting it for generations.

See how it all changes when you actually put a picture in people’s heads about what those high-quality ingredients mean or what experience means?

Now, is this enough to earn a special place in people’s minds?

Well, it is a good start. But if you really want to get people to remember your brand promise, you need to apply element number three from our list.

3) Repeat it over and over again. Across all the channels.

By now, you’ve created the first draft of your brand promise.

You know what to promise if you’re face-to-face with your ideal client.

You also made it ultra-specific, and you can give people all the details on how you’re different and why they should choose you.

But, there are so many other brands that try to do the same. How do you get through the noise and get people to remember you?

Here is the simplest but most powerful thing you can do:

Repeat it as many times as you can. And keep it consistent across every communication channel you use.

Why is this so efficient?

Well, because each time you repeat your brand promise, you deliver it to people who might not have noticed it previously.

There’s more.

With each repetition of your core message, your audience gets more familiar with your brand, products & services, and company.

This leads to familiarity, to that feeling of acceptance.

Once people begin to accept your brand, and your promise, they also begin trusting you.

Ultimately, this opens the door to more sales with less resistance.

The bottom line is this: no matter how strong, unique or specific your brand promise might be, people won’t remember it unless you repeat it often.

How do you repeat a brand promise without annoying people? Here’s how.

4) Use the power of suggestion to make your brand promise memorable

How do you suggest to people what you want them to remember?

Metaphors, comparisons, analogies and stories are some of the most powerful persuasion techniques you can use. They’re like a backdoor to the human mind (see what I did here?), which make your ideas stick faster and longer than a rational explanation or affirmation.

By employing these little techniques, you can repeat your brand promise without annoying your audience.

For instance, here’s a visual metaphor used by Viagra when it began selling on Amazon.

Elements of an effective brand promise

As… bold as that was, you can still go a step further. Here’s a mind-blowing example.

Red Bull’s promise is that it gives you the energy to achieve whatever you want. It will help you do extraordinary stuff because it increases your performance, concentration, reaction speed, vigilance, etc. It empowers you to go beyond limits, right?

So, how could they express this better than a jump from the stratosphere?

During a 9-minute fall, Felix Baumgartner set records for both the height of the jump and the speed of descent (830 mph!).

Who gave wings to Felix? Red Bull — the event organizer and company that made all this possible.

The bottom line is this: let people get the moral of the story. This is how you build that instant association between a certain attribute and a brand.

5) Keep your promises. Even in the little details.

You know what they say: trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.

It’s true for human relationships, and it’s true for brands, too.

You spend a lot of money to get people to finally believe in your promise, but if you don’t pay attention to the little details, it can all fall apart.

Here are some photos I’ve taken over the years that perfectly illustrate brand promise misalignments.

For instance, let’s say you’re boarding a plane and you see this:

Elements of an effective brand promise

The implied brand promise — that they will get you safely to your destination — is gone. In an instant.

It’s possible the plane was perfectly safe and the window wasn’t a threat to anyone’s safety, but the message communicated by this photo screams anything but.

Or, here’s a sign that I saw posted by the side of the road:

Elements of an effective brand promise

They might have a class “A” office, but they definitely get an F for design.

Based on this sign, would you truly believe they have an impressive office?

Or, let’s say you’re waiting in a doctor’s examining room and you see this:

Elements of an effective brand promise

Is this where a doctor should keep his thermometer sleeves?

I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a used cup — but if you think about it, the implied brand promise of any company is (or should be) attention to detail, clean supplies, etc. By failing to pick up on that, you could be sending harmful messages about your brand promise without even knowing it.

Now, let’s see a positive example of a brand promise.

FedEx’s core promise is that they will go to great lengths to deliver your package on time. And they have stories to prove that. For instance, a driver called Mike O’Donal single-handedly salvaged Christmas for one of his customers.

The customer found out just a few days before the holiday that he sent the package to the wrong address, and it didn’t reach its destination.

The package contained the only Christmas gift the customer could afford to give her daughter, and now it was in someone else’s hands.

So, the driver tried to retrieve the package. When the person at that address denied receiving it, O’Donal decided to play Santa Claus.

Elements of an effective brand promise

He purchased a duplicate gift out of his own pocket in time for Christmas Eve.

Through his actions, O’Donal did more than just replace a gift — he earned the customer’s gratitude and loyalty.

A quick recap on how to create a brand promise that sticks in people’s minds

A brand promise is like the moral of the story. Just like in the fairy tales, the moral was rarely directly stated or called out, but it’s implied through every aspect of the story.

For instance, nowhere in Pinocchio does it say that lying makes you look bad — but in the end, that’s the message we take with us.

So, here are the most important elements of a successful brand promise:

  1. Tell your brand promise as you would tell it to your ideal customer face-to-face.
  2. Describe your promise in detail. What does “quality” actually mean?
  3. Repeat it across all the channels. Repetition works.
  4. Use the power of suggestion: start with analogies, comparisons & metaphors.
  5. Make sure you keep your promises, even when it comes to the little things.

Ready to start building your brand? Learn about the 10 assets you need to effectively manage a brand online in our free ebook.

Folder structures. Files by the thousands. Cloud sharing that goes awry when trying to search for something.

“Where can I find the latest version?” messages over Slack or email.

Download V5. Upload V6. Share it with the team for feedback.

“That doesn’t look quite right.”

If you’re familiar with this scenario, you’re most likely looking for an effective way to solve it and ensure a solid foundation for future growth. We’re here to provide clarity and solutions so you can streamline how you create and manage your visual assets.

We do this every day for our customers and believe your marketing team can become a lot more productive with the right tools and workflows in place.

You can use this practical overview to validate use cases for image management software in your organization to save time, money, and a lot of energy.

Let’s dig in!

What is image management software?

The contemporary marketer needs to deliver high-quality work in a visually compelling manner that fits every platform in a custom approach. This requires being able to preview, find, work with, and share images faster than ever before.

An image management system caters to these specific needs. It provides your marketing team with a platform where you can cluster and organize all your digital images and visual assets so everyone can view, use, and distribute them.

As your brand grows, makeshift solutions won’t do. You need image management software that’s tailored to your challenges so you can focus on growth instead of answering repetitive operational questions.

What’s more, using it means you’ll spend less time adjusting access levels as your team members change. It also helps to worry less about security issues which have become prominent in recent years.

A high-performance marketing team knows that the right software can boost productivity and free up mind space for valuable creative work.

Streamline your workflow with visual assets

Today’s best image management software options are cloud-based, built for accessibility, and highly flexible.

For example, marketing teams that create a lot of content want to be able to track the entire life cycle of their marketing materials. This means being able to:

An image management system that’s well implemented within a marketing team reduces friction by enabling content creators to both be self-managed and collaborate effectively.

Marketing managers can also improve their speed when reviewing visual assets and giving feedback. They can also:

Once you’ve experienced the challenges of not having a dedicated software solution in place, you know how valuable it is to align teams across departments and get them to use the right visual assets on the right channels, in the right formats (without being annoyingly repetitive about it).

The visibility and control image management software provides is fundamental for maintaining brand consistency. When everyone uses templates, images, graphics, and illustrations that belong to the same design iteration and have the same quality, your brand becomes stronger, stabler, and even more trusted.

Digital asset management vs image management software

Two main challenges have led to the creation of specific tools to address them:

Two of the main options marketing managers have are DAMs (digital asset management systems) and IMSs (image management software).

To make it easier for you to choose the right platform for your team, here’s the big picture comparison between their usual features.

Features

image management features

While digital asset management software can handle most file formats your company works with, image management solutions may be a little less flexible.

DAMs usually support a variety of file types, from JPG to AI, DOCX, EPS, FLV, GIF, INDD, M4A, RAW, WMA, ZIP, TIFF and many more.

For security reasons, both DAMs and IMSs restrict uploading executable files (such as EXE, MSI or DLL).

Close the gap in your visual assets’ life cycle

As you can see, there is some overlap between image management software solutions and digital asset management ones, with the latter providing a richer set of features.

However, you should know that your choices aren’t limited to these two types of platforms.

In fact, if you find their core functions falling short of your needs, you can use a brand templating platform to close the gaps in their offering.

Say the design team has just wrapped up a set of illustrations for a guide your company created for customer onboarding. You might want to make those illustrations available for the content team that writes articles for the company blog.

You can upload them to your DAM or IMS, tag them, add a quick note for context and share them with the appropriate team.

However, you need to ensure they’re used on-brand and at the highest possible quality. (No one likes blurry visuals in blog posts in this day and age.)

Your team can use Lucidpress to create graphics that integrate the illustrations while respecting brand guidelines. In Lucidpress, you can store approved colors, fonts, logos, and templates and other elements content creators need to work with.

What’s more, you can lock individual elements or specific attributes in a template so that brand consistency is always on point. The elements you can lock include shapes, images, text boxes, and more.

Once your digital assets are ready, you can easily export them from Lucidpress to your DAM or image management software of choice in a variety of formats such as PNG, JPG, SVG, PDF, INDD, IDML and more.

Key takeaways

If you find yourself looking for solutions to improve your productivity, streamline processes in your team, and keep your brand consistent across channels and assets, know that you have plenty of options to choose from.

Moreover, you can set select them so that they integrate with each other, saving you even more time and energy spent on moving visual elements from one platform to another.

Hopefully, this kick starts a new era for your marketing team, defined by increased productivity and a stronger brand coherence every time you show up for your customers.

Learn more about digital asset management in our comprehensive buyer’s guide.

According to Bain and Company, the luxury goods market is set to double in size from 2020 to 2030, reaching over $617 billion by 2030.

From watches to condos, business is booming. Even discount retailers like Target partner with designers like RHODE to attract customers shopping for high fashion at affordable prices.

But what does it take to build a luxury brand? What makes good luxury branding stand out? Here you’ll find everything you need to know about building a luxury brand from the ground up. 

Let’s get started, shall we?

What is a luxury brand?

The definition of a luxury brand can change depending on the type of brand you’re describing.

In consumer goods, it’s Louis Vuitton and expensive couture fashion. In hospitality, bespoke travel experiences in exclusive or boutique locations would be considered luxury.

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[Some of today’s most recognizeable luxury brands]

According to THAT Agency, five factors clearly define a luxury brand:

Ultimately, consumer perception plays a huge role in elevating luxury brands above others. People associate luxury brands with higher prices, higher quality, rarity, and a sense of exclusivity.  

Take Louis Vuitton, for example. Since 1854, the French brand has consistently worked to perfect their luxury brand. Today, they stand out for several reasons:

LOUIS-VUITTON-YAYOI-KUSAMA-THUMBNAIL-1024x536

How to build a luxury brand

Ready to learn how to build a luxury brand from scratch? We’ve got you covered.

The brand leadership experts at Martin Roll suggest a five-step framework to build a strong luxury brand:

Get specific about who you’re targeting. 

There’s a niche audience out there that cares about your brand/product/mission. Figure out exactly who they are, and focus on one audience persona when you’re getting started. After your brand is well-established, broaden your definition of an ideal customer.

Do things differently. 

Differentiation is a key focus for emerging brands. Narrow down what makes your luxury brand unique? Do you specialize in custom made, bespoke products or services? Are your items handmade? Highlighting what makes you unique is essential to standing out.

Become a status symbol.

Focus on how influencers in a specific niche are using your product or service. By creating the perception that only the most discerning buy into your brand, everyone in your target market will too.

Create exclusivity. 

New luxury brands can tap into exclusivity by offering special perks to existing customers. High price tags and scarcity are other ways to employ this strategy. For example, Aston Martin combined a high price tag with scarcity when it created the Aston Martin One-77. The British car maker made a whopping total of 77 cars and sold them at $1.8M dollars each.

Consistently delivery on your brand promises

The bar for luxury brands is high. You’ll need to raise your game and keep your brand promises in every single customer interaction. Never compromise on your mission, purpose, and commitment to quality.

How to market your luxury brand

Once your luxury brand is established, it’s important to maintain a consistent brand identity through marketing.

Create a consistent brand from day one.

Start with a company style guide that gives your marketing team technical details about your brand’s look, including appropriate colors, fonts and styles. Keep in mind this is a living document that will evolve with your brand.

Make branded templates to protect brand identity.

Avoid a brand identity crisis by using brand management software like Marq. Create locked templates that keep logos from getting stretched and colors from being changed, no matter who’s working on your materials.

Engage in cause marketing and brand activism.

Cause marketing (aka brand activism) is a great way to get customers to connect to you on an emotional level. Consider your brand’s purpose and what it stands for. Are there any nonprofits or groups you can collaborate with or donate to to raise awareness?

Go all-in on SEO.

No matter how luxurious your brand is, no one will know about it if they can’t find it on Google. Invest in SEO strategies to increase visibility for your brand in the long-term.

Key takeaway

Building a strong luxury brand isn’t for the faint-hearted. With a detailed strategy and proper brand building techniques, you’re well on your way to becoming the next big thing on the luxury scene.

Need help keeping your luxury brand identity consistent? Marq has a template for that. Browse our brand template library here

Do you remember the dark days before cloud storage and internet searches? I know I do.

Today, if you have a question or need to know something right now, I’ll bet you do the same thing we all do… Google it. Gone are the days of the Dewey Decimal system and library searches that limit you to the knowledge in books they have onsite. Gone (thank goodness) are the days of inserting floppy disk after floppy disk (despite your best labeling efforts), madly trying to find that one photo you need for an ad or that flyer your team created last year that you to repurpose for a last-minute client meeting.

If you’re a young millennial or younger, you’re likely shaking your head no. You’ve grown up with the internet and all of its magical powers of information filing and seeking. But before Google became synonymous with finding things on the ‘net — and storing them for you via Google Drive (or Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive) — finding your files and sharing them sometimes felt like the hero’s quest for the grail.

Of course, this didn’t solve every file management problem. It’s one thing to have a system for storing your own collection of files and media — but what happens when you add more people to the equation? Predictably, it becomes much more complex. That’s the situation many companies and marketing teams find themselves in as they start to grow and build up their multimedia assets.

What is media asset management?

Details, please. A media asset management (or MAM) system provides a single warehouse for storing and managing video and multimedia files.

Think of it like your own private ‘Google’ that you can adopt for your media storage, brand integrity, usage analytics and team collaboration needs, helping you and your team easily find, edit, share and centrally store all of your media assets and projects so that the most recent versions are accessible to anyone (to whom you grant access), anytime, anywhere.

Yes, content is king. But asset management is most definitely queen.

The right media asset management software empowers you to build a strong, consistent brand and maintain its consistency across all types of marketing collateral. Most users are impressed by how intuitive, flexible, logical, and easy the software is to use. It’s a cost-effective approach that has proven very successful for the world’s most powerful brands in managing their digital assets.

Why it’s so important

So why is media asset management so important? If your organization is still depending on internal folder structures and email to manage content, it’s likely costing the company money.

This is money in lost time, inefficiencies, recreating the wheel over and over, emails back-and-forth between team members, and reduced production or ability to take on new work. It may also be causing the company less tangible side-effects like employee stress, breakdowns in brand compliance, loss of version control, and loose file security.

So much media, too little management. Much like the saying “With great power comes great responsibility,” today most of us have more media than we know how to (properly) manage. And it’s costing us big time. According to PR Newswire, inefficient knowledge sharing costs large businesses $47 million per year.

According to the Panopto Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report, “U.S. knowledge workers waste 5.3 hours every week either waiting for vital information from their colleagues or working to recreate existing institutional knowledge. That wasted time translates into delayed projects, missed opportunities, frustration among employees, and significant impact on the bottom line.”

Talk money to me. That’s one solid reason to switch your content management to a MAM system or brand templating platform. But what is the full ROI of media asset management?

Based on impact to the bottom line alone, it’s crucial for every brand to manage their assets properly, using media asset management software (or digital asset management software – but we’ll get to that later).

Have you ever had to find a flyer your team made sometime last year right now to impress a new client with samples of your work, with little regard for the 40,000 files in your internal folder structure? Or put a few grey hairs on your head trying to work with multiple players across your organization to storyboard, produce, animate, and record voiceover for a video highlighting a new product? 

If so, I’ll bet this took hours or weeks. With a MAM system, you can reduce this to minutes and days. Imagine the time (and sanity) saved by gaining hours of your life back for other tasks — not to mention the money…

MAM: What marketing managers, CMOs, and digital asset managers need to know. The leadership and tools you provide your team, and the instructions they follow, produce the future you create.

Next-generation media requires new ways to manage it. Lucidpress is revolutionizing modern media asset management that keeps companies in control of their content, regardless of industry, size, or the number of people on your team. Learn more >>>

Use cases for media asset management

A MAM system gives you and your team greater control with your media, digital assets, and content over how you:

The difference between MAM and DAM

I’m listening. So, what is the difference between media asset management (MAM) and digital asset management (DAM), you ask? The answer isn’t always clear.

First, the similarities: Both MAM and DAM relate to content management and are used to store, organize, and retrieve digital assets that must instantly accessible. You can think of them much like Pinterest and many other social networks and consumer sites, including Instagram, Canva, and Flickr that people use to store digital files. The goals are the same, while some of the features differ.

And the differences? In the past, DAMs wouldn’t typically manage rich media assets like audio and video (you needed a MAM for that), but that is quickly changing. With these changes, often the terms MAM and DAM are used interchangeably. The systems share similar features and there is a lot of crossover.

However, there is still a fine line between the two. DAM software takes the control, flexibility, portability, and access also found in MAM systems, and adds reporting to it – the ability to track and measure digital asset engagement across an organization and its potential reach.

In general, a DAM asset is defined as the media content and its metadata. The metadata can simply include the name, author, or creation date of a file, or track more complex information like extracted speech converted to text from a stored video, or the rights and fees around image use. Here is a page that explains the benefits of DAM nicely.

Which is better (DAM or MAM)? It depends. If you’re looking for audio or video storage and close integration with editing applications, MAM may be the way to go. Conversely, if you’re managing thousands or more assets of different types for many different users within your organization and want to allow different permissions for many of them and need to use analytics from metadata to tailor your content and reach your target audience, a DAM is a better bet.

Features to look for:

You want a straightforward solution to easily manage all of your content, videos, assets and graphics. You’ll also want to make sure the system is expandable later, as your company and your team grows, and provides enterprise-level functionality.

It goes without saying that you want a platform that allows easy migration from your current system while preserving your existing content archives without downtime or the need to restore media during migration.

Here are some must-have features to look for in a MAM or DAM platform:

The best asset management platforms have even more features to help your team manage your brand assets properly. With the Lucidpress brand templating platform, you can:

Who benefits from media asset management?

The short answer: everyone. The longer answer: every member of your team, from management to marketing to design to sales.

The proof is in the profit, and I don’t mean only the cash-money bottom line (though, as we’ve learned above, it definitely helps that, too). I’m talking about the importance of building a strong, consistent brand through employee and team efficiencies, stress reduction, data security, knowledge capture and preservation, and brand asset management.

The tools you use are just as important as the work you put into creating the content. Better outcomes. (Less swearing.) Sometimes the hardest work of all is figuring out how to make it easy.

A brand templating platform like Lucidpress is a great way to help marketing teams stay on brand and generate all the marketing content you need. In fact, Lucidpress can be an excellent partner or replacement for DAM software.

Key takeaway

If you’re doing it right, your brand assets are audience-ready. You have instant access to the most up-to-date files to deliver the right content and target your customer in the most effective way. And that should make any content marketer’s job easier.

No matter which MAM option you choose or currently use, by integrating Lucidpress with your stack, you can easily and quickly design on-brand content, then store and share those assets with your employees.

As secure technology becomes more important in many businesses & organizations, there is a growing need for new positions & roles so that there are plenty of people to manage all this new IT. One such role is that of the digital asset manager.

This position is now very important within any company that obtains & stores any kind of digital assets. These might be things like photos, videos, website content, and much more. If these aren’t stored, managed and used correctly, then it could potentially cause some really big headaches for the company.

Since digital asset managers are still a relatively new position, some companies are still unclear why they might need one. Here’s our complete guide to what a digital asset manager is and does.

What does a digital asset manager do?

First, let’s take a look at what a digital asset manager does. One of the first things to note is that you shouldn’t confuse this with digital asset management (DAM), as this refers to the software that helps with the job. The digital asset manager is the person who is responsible for all digital assets. Here’s an overview of their general responsibilities.

What skills should a digital asset manager have?

There are a lot of transferable skills that a successful digital asset manager will possess, as well as a few that are very job-specific. Not sure if you have what it takes to tackle this role? You might be surprised.

If you check out some of the digital asset manager roles advertised on sites like Glassdoor, you will see what companies expect from their applicants. Here’s a rundown of some of the main skills that are required in most digital asset management positions.

There are plenty of skills that a digital asset manager requires, but thankfully, most of them are ones that can be quickly picked up and learned on the job. You can give yourself a head start over the competition by searching for opportunities to practice these skills in your current work situation.

Key takeaway

As you can see, this relatively new role of digital asset manager is becoming more important to a range of companies, industries and sectors. If you run a company or manage a brand, then you should definitely consider hiring a suitable candidate as soon as possible. In the mean time, you can purchase DAM software to help protect your company’s brand and its digital assets.

Learn more about digital asset management software in our comprehensive buyer’s guide.

Making sure every touchpoint — from content to sales — remains on-brand is essential. But when you have seemingly limitless decisions to make regarding a new product, marketing campaign, or anything else related to your business, it can be difficult to keep all the moving parts properly aligned.

That’s where a brand positioning statement comes into play. A brand positioning statement is a helpful point of reference whenever you need to make decisions about strategy, marketing campaigns or products.

What is a positioning statement?

A brand positioning statement is a short and concise description that sums up your brand. It includes:

A brand positioning statement is designed to be used internally. That said, it can provide helpful context for any content being created by in-house writers, freelancers or creative agencies. And while a brand positioning statement isn’t necessarily very long, you should still dedicate a solid block of time to crafting it.

In addition to creating a positioning statement, you should also write a value proposition. A value proposition should describe the beneficial features of your product, services, strategy, or approach. It includes:

The difference between a positioning statement & value proposition

The key difference between a brand positioning statement and a value proposition lay within the who, what, when, where, how and why. In theory, each statement should answer the following questions.

Brand positioning****Value proposition Who is your brand? What are the benefits of your products and services? Who is your target audience, and what are their pain points? How does your company plan to solve (or resolve) your customers’ pain points? Which category or market does your brand fit in? How does your company benefit the customer?

In other words, a value proposition illustrates a brief overview of the benefits that the product or service provides. A positioning statement focuses more on what your brand delivers to customers and how it’s differentiated from your competition.

The importance of a positioning statement

A brand positioning statement is an internal aspect of your overall brand strategy as it defines your brand’s identity and personality. It also doubles as a guardrail to help test any potential business decisions. Some businesses choose to have more than one positioning statement, perhaps addressing different market statements or brand personas.

Ultimately, a brand positioning statement is important because it helps you keep everything consistent and in line with your brand — no matter what you’re doing. Every creative asset will be measured against your brand positioning statement, so it’s essential to take time to craft it.

How to write a brand positioning statement

If you’re ready to write a brand positioning statement, there are some essential elements for it to include. For example:

If you’re ready to start writing your brand positioning statement, feel free to use the following template:

For [your target market] who [the primary need of your target market], [brand name] provides [the main benefit that sets your brand apart from competitors] because [the evidence that you can deliver on your brand promise].

Most brands will adjust the template to fit their taste, like in these two examples:

The result may be short, but you can easily spend days or even weeks getting this short statement to feel just right. And remember — while your value proposition focuses on the specific benefits your customers will receive from your products, your positioning statement is about why your brand is the right one for your audience. Be sure to include the unique value you provide and how that differentiates you from your competitors.

Tips & tricks to writing a brand positioning statement

When writing and evaluating your brand positioning statement, you need to double-check to make sure the statement is going to serve its purpose.

By asking yourself these important questions ahead of time, you gain the clarity and groundwork needed to write a concise, compelling statement.

Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily hit the nail directly on the head with your first draft. Once you’ve written it, go over it with a fine-tooth comb and ask yourself whether it answers all the questions mentioned above. Should you find glaring errors or gaps, you can edit and rewrite it as you see fit.

If ¬— or, rather, when — elements of your advertising & marketing change, your brand positioning statement will still inform them. You might have a new tagline or different messaging, but the same guiding principle is behind these decisions.

4 brands with strong positioning strategies

When you look at how some companies handle their branding, you can also clearly see the brand positioning statements that stand behind their advertising and creative assets. Here are some of the top brands that have strong branding – and even stronger brand positioning behind them.

Amazon

Amazon rapidly grew into an online retail brand that now dominates virtually all sectors. You can get just about everything you want from Amazon. Their audience is broad, with services offered to anyone who wants access to a large range of products all in one place — along with convenient delivery. Amazon differentiates itself from other e-commerce brands by putting its customers first, as well as being innovative and committed to operational excellence.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s offers affordable, quality food choices for families who want fast food paired with efficient customer service. They provide a consistent experience across thousands of locations worldwide, following tight standards at every location. They’re set apart from other fast food restaurants because of their determination to continually improve both service and operations.

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is for families (and adults!) seeking unforgettable, magical experiences. Their goal is to help people of all ages make their dreams come true, and they work hard to create and promote a fun, exciting environment. As a company, Disney has been around long enough that it now inspires nostalgia in multiple generations. There’s only one Walt Disney World, and many people have come to associate it with their childhood.

Whole Foods

Whole Foods was created and inspired by people who care about their health, as well as the environment. They provide healthy, sustainable food products, using ingredients that are closely connected to those who grow them — and to the earth. Whole Foods sets itself apart from competitors by holding itself and the food they sell to high standards so that they can always deliver on their brand promise to their customers.

Key takeaway

At the end of the day, your brand positioning statement should inform your business decisions for at least a couple years. It’s worth taking some time to write it — instead of rushing it — so you have a statement that truly sums up your brand and what it has to offer. Once you’ve written it, make sure everyone at your company can access it, use it, and find creative ways to elevate your brand.

Ready to start building your brand? Learn about the must-have templates and assets to build your brand

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Originally published in 2018 and 2019 and updated in 2021 to reflect updated data.

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Brand consistency is the key to earning customer trust and elevating your ROI. And alternatively, inconsistent branding dampens brand status and creates confusion in the marketplace.

In an effort to better understand how exactly brand consistency drives revenue and growth, Lucidpress surveyed over 400 brand management experts to ascertain the analytical impact of brand consistency.

brand consistency infographic

Branding is crucial to every business, but it’s so much more than a few colors, nice fonts and a fancy logo. It tells people that you care about what you deliver, that you live up to what you promise, and it shows off a glimmer of your personality — after all, it’s the make-up for your public image; an identity that people can relate to.

Managed well, branding can meet customers’ expectations and drive your authority through the roof. You’ll see a surge in new customers, leads, and conversions if you do one thing to your entire brand: make it consistent.

Here’s why brand consistency is important, and four ways you can put your business in the hall of fame for excellent brands.

What is brand consistency?

To be consistent is to be reliable — and when you’re reliable, you’re also recognizable and more likely to earn new customers or repeat ones because you’re front and center.

Brand consistency is the act of delivering the same brand messaging, voice and visual elements in every graphic, and piece of content. This ensures visibility and recognition within your target audience groups, so you stay top of mind, especially when they need you most.

Why is brand consistency important?

Think about one of the world’s largest sportswear brands. You see a check and instantly think of Nike, right?

You associate Nike and their logo because they’ve been consistent with it. After all, you’ve seen their signature tick on every piece of clothing they produce.

A brand is what people will remember most about your company, so it needs to be representative, strong, consistent and instantly memorable if you want to make a lasting impression.

You want to be their go-to company: customers should feel as though they could recommend you to friends and family, or call on you when they need additional products or services. Plus, your customers expect great design and consistent branding. For today’s customers, consistent branding and good design are key components when evaluating whether or not they do business with you.

Overall, constituents from our survey estimated that if their brand was consistently maintained, they would expect to have a 10-20% increase in overall growth, which in turn offers companies the additional revenue required to hire much-needed staff members or access to technology or software they otherwise might not have.

Ultimately, brand consistency has an extensive trickle-down effect that, when implemented correctly, can boost your bottom line, brand status, and employee morale. But unfortunately, inconsistent branding jeopardizes all that.

Impact of inconsistent brand usage

When you’re building a brand, the last thing you want to do is confuse the market. Those people could be your perfect customers: ones that drive your business’s bottom line and deliver great ROI on your branding efforts.

However, not using a consistent approach to your brand could limit your chances to generate leads or sales. That’s because people buy from brands they connect with, and brands which feel authentic. It’s hard to connect with a brand that doesn’t have a consistent appearance.

Advice from brand managers on maintaining brand consistency

How to maintain brand consistency

So, you’re looking to keep your branding consistent at every stage in your customer’s journey. But how do you do that, and which elements should you focus on?

1. Set branding guidelines for your company

Branding guidelines include details about your tone of voice, preferred professional terms and general code of conduct. Every business should have one, no matter their stage in the journey to perfect branding.

But once you’ve created them, don’t let them slip.

While 85% of organizations have brand guidelines, only30% are consistently enforced… hence why these companies aren’t seeing results. [Tweet this] Not only does this mean time creating them is wasted, but staff might not understand your true brand, which will make it hard to stick to.

Treat these guidelines like the core of your entire branding activity. It’s a central document that all members of staff should use when creating marketing materials or representing your company.

2. Give staff a branding masterclass

We can all relate to the feeling of sitting in an hour-long meeting which could’ve been a 15-minute email conversation. That’s the beauty of office life, right?

However, as soon as you’ve created your branding guidelines, you’ll need all members of staff to be onboard. You can do this by giving them a brand masterclass meeting, detailing everything they need to know about the business’ history, core values and tone of voice.

Once this masterclass is over, everyone will be on the same page. Store your brand guidelines centrally and remind staff to check back on this document if they’re unsure about how to represent your brand.

Say goodbye to a mismatch of marketing messages that confuse potential customers, and hello to consistent branding. Whether staff are speaking with a customer or crafting a blog post, each stage in a customer’s journey will be perfectly branded when staff understand what you’re trying to achieve.

3. Provide staff with branding resources

All staff have been given a branding masterclass and understand what your brand is about… but how can they maintain consistency if they need to create things for external use?

The answer: provide them with branding resources.

Think about the marketing material that your customers will see. Whether it’s social media graphics or whitepapers, branding resources can keep these consistent and avoid confusing potential customers.

In the same folder as your branding guidelines, provide staff with:

You can also create branded templates to save time and keep a high level of consistency. Lucidpress offers a large assortment of free brochure templates, social media templates and more.

4. Think wider than your website

Did you know that the average revenue increase attributed to always presenting the brand consistently is 10-20%? You could see a huge uplift in revenue if you’re always referring back to brand guidelines—not just for your website.

Many businesses assume that a logo and a website are enough to put the cherry on the branding cake. They think a simple website theme is enough to give a great customer experience, but that couldn’t be further than the truth.

That’s because every stage in your customer experience should be branded in order to maintain consistency. So, think about the typical journey that your customer has. That might be:

  1. Found your site on social media
  2. Visited your website
  3. Subscribed to your email list
  4. Purchased from you

…But if your branding isn’t consistent across the first three platforms, a purchase is unlikely to happen. Remember how we said people buy from brands they feel connected with?

On social media, it’s easy to just rattle off a series of posts to make it look like you’ve been doing it for years. But remember: all communications need to be consistent. Consumers are savvy—if there’s an out-of-place tweet that doesn’t fit your brand, it’ll stand out like a sore thumb.

People will wonder what is going on if you don’t have a consistent voice. They won’t know the team behind your company (or trust them), leading to asked questions and cash spent elsewhere.

Key takeaway

Once you’ve implemented these five steps into your branding efforts, you’ll soon see a surge of results. From paying customers to feedback like, “I love everything about your brand!”, remember that consistency is key.

Stop changing your message repeatedly and losing your customers’ interest. You want them to remember your brand—not forget it.

For a real-life example of a company mastering their brand consistency, read about Club Pilates and their experience using brand templates here.

Want to know more about the power of brand consistency and the impact it has on your creative teams, brand reputation, and more? Download our 2021 state of brand consistency report and gain insight into helpful analytics and key takeaways to ensure your brand stays consistent and visible.

*Please note that while we provide insights and tangible takeaways, this survey and corresponding ebook are designed to shed light on the intricacies, theory, and data science behind brand consistency rather than provide hard-and-fast facts. Each company, and therefore branding, is bound to encounter unique obstacles relative to consistency.

CMO’s are in a unique position to own, understand, and implement customer experience not just as a marketing function but as a fundamental component of every aspect of a business. As a CMO you’ve known for years the importance of cultivating customer relationships and building a brand customers trust. Now, with customers demanding an even more consistent and comprehensive customer experience, you can connect marketing and branding activities not just to leads generated but also to higher sales conversion rates, greater customer retention and higher numbers of brand advocates.

Start at the beginning of this post for CX beginners and go to the end for specific CX measurement and implementation strategies.

What is the customer experience?

The customer experience is the summation of every interaction a customer has with an organization. These interactions span well beyond a conversation with a customer support rep or account manager. Every interaction with your company from the website to the product to your employees impacts a customer’s experience with and perception of your company.

Your product or services should inspire or wow your customers. And then, should issues or questions arise, you should feel confident in your customer support representatives to offer applicable solutions, and provide a memorable customer experience.

Why customer experience matters

Today’s customers expect a personalized customer experience — 33% of consumers who abandoned a business last year left because their experience wasn’t personalized. Another survey found 81% of marketers expect to be competing mostly on the basis of CX within the next two years.

CMOs who focus on developing a comprehensive customer experience program now will find themselves at a significant strategic advantage over those who wait to recognize the importance of delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Customer experience vs customer service

A customer considers the whole picture when thinking about what your business offers and so should you.

Both customer service and customer experience are important pieces in making your business a success. But you shouldn’t draw a hard line between the two. There’s quite a bit of overlap between how a customer uses a product or service and how they interact with the people supporting it. So, you’ll want to approach customer experience strategy and customer support as mostly one-in-the-same.

Customer experience

Customer experience (also known as CX), encapsulates the broader customer journey that people have across your organization, involving every interaction with your customers and your business including customer-facing services.

However, more importantly, it highlights and showcases how the customer experiences your product or service, their interactions with self-service support, their experience in-store, customer service and much more.

Customer service

Customer service is the human part of the customer journey — it’s the assistance and advice given to a customer regarding any of your products or services.

It requires your customer-facing team to have a unique set of skills including patience, product knowledge, and perseverance so they can give the assistance any and all customers need, regardless of where they’re at in the customer journey.

So, what’s the difference between the two?

Customer experience involves the entire journey — from initial queries to purchase, as well as customer service. Customer service offers limited insight into what the customer wants and needs, whereas the customer experience covers a holistic overview. Keep in mind, understanding customer experience often involves analyzing data from teams who aren’t customer-facing but do contribute to a customer’s experience with your product or service.

How to measure customer experience

Customer experience is very important for sustained growth. You need to provide a positive customer experience in order to:

In today’s market, the customer (not the seller or service provider) is the one with the power. Thanks in part to the rise of the internet, your customers have more options than ever before and it’s very easy to switch their loyalty to a competitor.

Customers also have a great deal of power when it comes to influencing your business’ reputation through online reviews and social media. For that reason, customers are your best resource for growing brand awareness in a positive way if you’re delivering a great customer experience.

To that end, you’ll want to measure the customer experience via the following metrics:

What is customer experience management?

Customer experience management, or CEM, is a strategy used to track, oversee and organize all customer interactions. CEM helps a business focus on the needs of its customers, so your business can connect the dots within the customer experience — and give folks the customer experience they expect, want and deserve.

CEM software can be easily leveraged to bridge the gap between touchpoints or journey steps. And it can be used to automatically collect and analyze customer feedback for you to use, so you can easily and tactfully improve your client experience. A good CEM system delivers deep insights replete with an analytical dashboard, reporting options and other specialized integrations with your customer relationship management software.

11 customer experience strategies

To help you get on your way to creating and nurturing an effective and successful consumer experience strategy, we compiled eleven of the most important and relevant tactics.

So, what are you waiting for?

1.) Understand your audience and create buyer personas

In order to offer a great customer experience, you need to know a lot about your customers. You should know who they are, and what their motivations are — which is where creating buyer personas comes into play. Work hand-in-hand with your support and sales teams to identify customer personas as well as personality attributes.

From there, you can utilize these personas within your marketing and creative efforts, in turn empowering you to cast a wider, more accurate net. Plus it helps you gain a clearer understanding of your customers’ needs and enables your outreach efforts to be personalized to real people with relatable hurdles or experiences.

Spotify is a great example of using data to create a memorable customer experience with their clever, tongue-in-cheek marketing that draws from their users more unusual listening habits. Check out their 2018 advertising campaign — Spotify leveraged metrics and user statistics to create compelling marketing copy that represented actual Spotify users, cultivating a sense of familiarity and building rapport.

2.) Evaluate CX based on your brand’s mission and values

A successful CX strategy starts with creating alignment between your company’s stated value proposition and values and the customer’s perception of your business based on their experience with your company. What gaps are there between customer expectations and experience in your business? Are your internal processes doing a good enough job at supporting your customers? What tools could you use to improve the customer experience?

3.) Use CX-centric tools to help you

Creating seamless customer experiences can feel overwhelming. To get started, you’ll need to understand how customers interact with your product and what they expect from it. Using CX tools can simplify this process for you by capturing relevant customer data and offering actionable insights. Tools like this are equipped with various capabilities such as content management, customer analytics, and customer feedback. For example, try using:

4.) Work backward to create the ideal consumer experience

Start with the end, ideal experience and work backward toward the technology and processes you’ll need in order to create the ideal consumer experience. Unsure what it is? Start by mapping the customer journey. Doing so helps you identify opportunities where you can make a lasting impression and avoid CX failure as a customer moves between touchpoints. Remember to focus on practical issues too, like autofill on forms to save your users’ time.

5.) Hire team players and get the team invested in customer experience

You can’t deliver a great customer experience without the right employees. You should train your team to pay keen attention to customers — no detail should be spared. This can be as simple as noticing that a customer mentions a birthday and making the effort to give them birthday wishes when they come in. Doing so empowers your team to create a personalized customer experience. So, when you’re hiring, be sure to look for strong interpersonal skills, a solid ability to connect with a wide variety of people and patience.

6.) Eliminate bad or rogue design early on

User experience, or UX, is critical. Customers arrive at your site through a variety of mediums, but your brand needs to remain consistent no matter how a customer gets there. One bad or inconsistent experience could be enough to put them off, sending them to a competitor never to return. To avoid this, create a branded style guide and empower your teams with a brand templating platform, so they can create on-brand content whenever, wherever. Ultimately, you want your content to be easy to consume and even easier for customers to find the information they need from you.

7.) Pay attention to customer needs and use feedback loops

If you’re going to provide an experience your customer truly finds helpful, you need to know what your customer expects, wants and needs. To do this, create a feedback loop — post-interaction and real-time feedback surveys are a good start. From there, support staff can easily follow up over the phone and ask about their experience. Use social media and other means of customer interaction touchpoints to keep tabs on your reputation amongst your existing customer base — and prospective ones, too.

8.) Research your competitors

Take the time to analyze competitors and market trends to build a clear picture of who the competition is and what they’re doing in contrast to your organization. If you know your business needs to improve, use this market research to help you bridge the gap between where you’re currently at and where you want to be. Do this by creating strategic goals and objectives that help you implement a successful CX strategy.

9.) Building systems for effective resolutions

Customer feedback requires a company response. Implement an unobtrusive support system for every stage of the customer lifecycle. Make it easy for your customers to find the support solutions they need — whether it’s a live chat option, text messaging, webinars, social media, self-service solutions, email, or phone calls — you must make yourself available. Be sure to keep your response time promise relative to what’s realistic.

10.) Dial-in your brand personality

Make your brand personality and presence something that customers want to be a part of. A strong personality helps to build a large, loyal customer base. To get started, think about who your brand would be if it was a person. Then, define it relative to your brand mission and values. For example, are you:

Alternatively, check out our brand archetype quiz jump start your brand personality efforts.

11.) Use machine learning or AI to deliver a seamless end-to-end experience

With artificial intelligence, you can set up auto-responses to routine customer queries and guide your customers with curated content. AI customer service interactions reduce the need for staff to attend to every customer query, enabling them to focus on more complicated, high-visibility problems. You could also use AI to segment your customer base and provide a more personalized experience. AI can use information from browsing data, pages visited and past interactions to send targeted messages automatically.

A seamless end-to-end customer experience provides your company a lot more than initial earned revenue — in exchange for going the extra 1% for your customers, you gain brand loyalty and authority within your industry. And in turn, you gain customers for life.

Customer experience — the summation of every interaction a customer has with your brand — is critical. A great customer experience translates into satisfied customers, therefore boosting customer retention, improving the reputation of your business and elevating your bottom line.

Today’s brands have to develop a trusting relationship with their customers to continue to grow, and the majority of CMOs recognize the importance of customer experience (CX). But implementing an effective customer experience strategy that flows seamlessly from touchpoint to touchpoint and department to department is easier said than done.  

How to improve the customer experience 

Naturally, creating a memorable and good customer experience can feel challenging. But like any large project, you just have to break it down into smaller bits and pieces. To help you navigate it, we’ve compiled eight tips you can undertake to enhance the customer experience within your company.

branding

Develop a CX culture

Since every employee is a potential touchpoint for failure in a customer experience program, customer experience has to be infused into the very DNA of your brand. Successful companies develop a culture where customer experience can flourish. 

A culture primed for a great customer experience includes the following:

A culture based on data and testing

Gone are the days when a persona based on intuition and sweeping generalities is enough to produce a relevant experience. Instead, every team must learn to collect and use data to understand the customer as people. Then use that data to create experiments to see what experiences best resonate with customers and which ones fall flat.

Creating a culture that embraces diversity and inclusivity for many different perspectives opens your organization up to be more empathetic and understanding of your customers’ point of view. Not only does it give your employees the language and tool kit to know how to understand your customers but it also creates an environment where employees feel heard and cared for opening them up to extend that same feeling to the customer through great customer service.

A customer-centric culture

Creating a customer-centric culture sounds like a given for any company prioritizing CX, but according to the CMO Council, “Only 14% of marketers say that customer-centricity is a hallmark of their companies.” One reason for this is the majority of metrics and compensation plans still focus on sales or the product rather than customer service and success. Developing trackable metrics for every team that ties directly to the customer experience will put the customer front and center in the minds of every manager and employee.

A culture infused with your brand’s core purpose and identity

A great customer experience strategy should be intentional, which means your brand’s core purpose should be easily identifiable and should influence every decision made by every department. Adoption of a brand’s purpose starts at the top and must be an ongoing conversation to ensure it becomes a part of the company culture rather than a nice saying on the wall. 

Shift Your Recruiting Mindset

You also need the right people on your team. These folks are an essential part of making sure that your customer experience is the best that it can possibly be. Because, at the end of the day, if your employees aren’t paying attention to the needs of your customers, you’re never going to be able to create the kind of customer experience you want. 

Think about not just who is qualified in your industry but who is qualified in your customer’s industry? Who can speak their language? Every marketing team will benefit from having subject matter experts who thoroughly understand the customer’s point of view.

Find people who are right-brained and left-brained– people who can understand the CX data points. A marketing team that’s both creative and analytical will be better able to understand and apply customer data.

Beyond the marketing team, every addition to the company should be hired for customer orientation. Make it a mandatory part of the interviewing process for every hiring manager. This not only ensures you’re getting the right talent in place but also re-enforces a customer-centric culture.

Use CX technology

CX technology plays a critical role in understanding where people are at in their customer journey. Start by developing a centralized command center to unify global data. Data silos limit your ability to see the entire picture and can create disjointed experiences. 

With machine learning, you can create a personalized experience for each customer by proposing the next step in the customer journey based on where they’ve been and what they’ve read so far.

Many organizations have experimented with customer-facing bots to provide instant one-to-one interaction. However, agent-facing bots can also be a great tool to help coach customer service agents to answer questions faster and improve customer service.

brand templating platform democratizes the content personalization process, so anyone on your team can quickly create professional, personalized content.

Communicate values

Creating content that is relevant and insightful is an important part of the customer journey, but today’s buyer often prioritize working with companies that share their values over the product’s value proposition or price. As you’re mapping content to the customer journey, think about how you will communicate your company’s values as part of the education process. 

Hubspot, for example, communicates openly about their culture code and how they’ve actively worked to create a place where their employees love to work. 

Personalize content to the customer

You know your customers, or at least you think you do, right?

For the most part, yes. Most successful businesses will already have a strong idea of their customer base, but it’s not enough to think about this in terms of broad strokes. 

Your customers offer unique insights and highly informative data sources — from conversion driver and motivating factors to content funnels and more. You must pay attention to your customers’ habits and preferences. 

You’ll want to create a detailed profile of your average customer. Use reference points like:

Once you’ve done that, you’re in a much better position to personalize the content based on how you can meet your customer’s needs. Content personalization is one of the best ways to ensure that your customers feel valued, appreciated and heard by your business. 

Unsure how to personalize your content? Try customizing:

At the end of the day, this kind of targeted experience makes everything feel much smoother and more effortless for your customers.

Related: How to create a great digital customer experience

Customer loyalty rewards

Improving the overall customer experience isn’t just for new customers — it’s for your existing and repeat ones too. Recognizing customer loyalty through kickback programs is a surefire way to ramp up engagement and customer commitment. 

That said, loyalty isn’t just about giving out discount codes: there are other ways you can gather customer loyalty by highlighting that you appreciate and value their opinion, as well as their purchase. For example:

Loyalty rewards are a wonderfully simple way to make sure that everyone — from a brand new customer to someone who has been connected to your business for years — feels as though they get something in return when they choose to do business with you.

Pay attention to customer feedback 

Understanding your customers isn’t terribly difficult. But unfortunately, a lot of marketing leaders find themselves wondering what customers do and don’t want from them — and how they can acquire that information. 

The solution is pretty dang simple: your customers will tell you. But they’ll only tell you if you give them that opportunity. 

To start gathering customer feedback, make it as easy as possible for them to offer feedback in the first place. Meaning, you need to provide them with feedback options through their channel of choice. This can be via social media, email, texting and more. Find out what makes the most sense for a majority of your customers and customize it from there.

Ultimately you want to ascertain customer opinions — what do they think is going well, what went wrong, and what could be improved. Doing so will give you a solid grasp on the direction your business is moving, and it allows your customers to feel as though they have a great deal more agency in the direction of your business, too.

Pre-empt solutions

Of course, if you want to be sure that your customers are always having the best possible experience with your business, you need to be able to predict and preemptively deal with any and all problems. This means carefully testing your various user experience touchpoints to make sure that they always function properly and dealing with any potential problems as quickly as possible.

A final note on how to improve the customer experience

This might seem like a great deal of effort in a lot of different directions just to focus on one specific element of your business. But the truth is, the experience your customers have with your business is simply too important for you to ignore. 

If you’re not able to nurture an improved customer experience, then it won’t matter how great the other elements of your business are. You could be running the most efficient business in the world with the most incredible product, but that doesn’t matter if the experience of interacting with your business isn’t a pleasant one for your customers. Without this essential ingredient, your business simply won’t be able to reach the kinds of heights that you know it to be truly capable of.

Elevate your content experience with Lucidpress.

Why the customer experience matters

Existing in today’s business world requires much more than simply producing a product or service for people to buy. So much of it comes down to creating a great customer experience (CX). In fact, the vast majority of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience and more than 62% of companies are recognizing the impact customer experience has in contrast to competitors.

With a large part of shopping and customer interaction happening digitally, great customer service has evolved beyond discounts or quick product fixes. Now, it is more about giving people a good feeling about your business and nurturing customer loyalty — with the end goal being that customers spread their love for your brand by word of mouth to friends, family, colleagues, which ultimately concludes with more sales and more loyal customers.

To stand out among the competition, your brand and business need to create and deliver more customer-centric experiences and campaigns as it gives your target audience a compelling reason to stay and become repeat customers.

That said, in order to deliver this customer experience, you need to combine data from your online and offline initiatives. You also must create an emotional connection between your brand and customers, putting them at the center of your marketing strategies. To give you an idea of how to accomplish this, we’ve rounded up some of the best customer experience examples.

Check out these unique customer service experience examples below.

7 of the best examples of great customer experiences

1. Microsoft: customer-centric innovation and engagement

In the early 2000s, Microsoft was experiencing a hitch in its growth until its new CEO came in and led the change from a bureaucratic corporation to an innovative collaborator who focused more on its partnerships and customers.

Microsoft began partnering with B2B companies and sharing best practices to build new products, which not only gave Microsoft the boost it needed, but it democratized access to technology and empowered businesses and teams with the type of technology they truly needed to get the job done.

They also began to invest more in their social media presence. Today, Microsoft has a strong presence on Twitter with multiple accounts dedicated to various themes, which include careers, development, events, security and customer service. Through social media, Microsoft customers can interact and engage with just about every aspect of the brand.

CX lesson: It’s easy to accomplish this type of approach by simply asking questions through polls, surveys, chats, forums or asking for feedback. Each of these can encourage engagement, which can lead to innovation or changes that keep the customer involved and coming back for more. Just remember to respond to comments on social media in a timely manner. The quicker you respond, the more satisfied customers will be and the more they will feel that your business values them and their feedback.

2. Tommee Tippee Cups: 1-to-1 marketing

Small but mighty, one of the best examples of a great customer experience comes from Tommee Tippee Cups.

Through social media, the company stumbled upon a father looking for a replacement of a limited edition Tommee Tippee sippy cup for his son, Ben, who has severe autism. The sippy cup was the only one Ben would drink from, as such, the father created a hashtag #cupsforBen. The result was a viral tweet, amassing thousands of likes, retweets and shoutouts, which of course caught the company’s attention.

The company ended up announcing they would be creating a limited run of the discontinued cup, especially for Ben.

CX lesson: By paying attention to your business’ social channels, you can turn listening to your customers’ feedback into truly memorable customer experiences.

3. AirBnB: Personalized user experience

AirBnB provides a great example of personalized customer experiences. By recognizing the two different types of customers in their industry — those looking to rent out their place and those looking for a place to stay — AirBnB has made a simple search experience for both audiences on the same platform.

Through their home page, you can either become a host or book a place to stay. Additionally, with consistent branding and design across their mobile app and web browser, they’ve made this marriage between UX and customer experience even more seamless.

CX lesson: When customers lead, you follow — and understand that your customers do not exist within a binary. There might be other important use cases your company offers. Be on the lookout for what those might look like.

4. McDonald’s: In-restaurant customer experience

When McDonald’s started suffering a decline in sales, they decided to turn things around not by changing their marketing tactics, but instead by focusing on customer experience.

They started by making an effort to listen to their customers and providing them with a more streamlined experience — like the one customers had been requesting. Based on customer feedback, McDonalds created a simpler menu, improved order accuracy and started using higher-quality ingredients.

McDonald’s also took the time to upgrade store interiors for a better look and installed digital, self-order kiosks and table service, resulting in lower wait times for customers. As these changes were implemented, BTIG projected a sales growth of 4.1%. And in turn, McDonald’s is able to set themselves above competitors by elevating their overall customer service experience.

CX lesson: Listen to what your customers are asking for — and then implement changes as best you can.

5. Adidas: Digital customer experience

In recent years, Adidas has been fine-tuning its digital experience by committing itself to better customer experiences

One of its biggest initiatives came about as it recognized customers were shopping online more. Adidas ended up pouring resources into a simple and tailored-to-fit customer experience by personalizing its messaging and content based on data insights and user engagement.

The company also began listening to customer feedback. This introduced them to a desire for more sustainable goods from customers. The company began producing shoes from ocean waste and sold over 1 million pairs in just one year.

CX lesson: By investing in CX, you can change your company’s growth trajectory and even establish yourselves as a leader in your field.

6. Delta: Empower employees

Delta Airlines has been awarded high praises for their customer experience and many of these are due to the way in which they empower their employees. They boast a retail-like experience which is a new way to think about air travel given that it is a generally stressful situation for most.

Delta was named best overall service airline and their latest marketing campaigns feature customers sharing their great experiences due to the employees. From their pandemic response to their acts of empathy, Delta has cultivated a reputation that is built on the people who work for them.

CX Lesson: When you empower your employees to engage with your customers and offer human interactions that identify with the human experience, your brand will be known for it.

7. Casper: Omnichannel customer experience

A truly unique approach to perfecting the customer service experience can be seen through mattress company Casper.

The ship-to-your-home mattress company created a free chatbot just for insomniacs. By simply texting “Insomnobot3000” from their mobile phones, customers can talk to the chatbot about whatever is on their mind and have a real conversation.

But the Insomnobot3000 isn’t just for insomniacs to get a little peace of mind to help them fall asleep. Through the chatbot, Casper is able to collect mobile numbers and send promotional offers and discounts. And courtesy of the Insomnobot3000, Casper pulled in $100 million in sales in just the first year of the chatbot’s launch.

CX lesson: Make it easy for customers to connect with you on their channel of choice. And furthermore, you need to humanize the customer experience as you do so. Because, after all, we all sleep on mattresses, but who or what audience can you tap into and elevate the customer experience for?

Make your customer experience a memorable one

By looking at these seven great customer experience examples and the approach each company took to improving its customer experience, you can find your own solutions to help your business outpace the competition.

So much of the customer experience entails listening to and collecting feedback from your target audience and then using that feedback to incite change. Whether this change happens in your products or services — or even a design flaw in your website or app — it can result in better UX and CX experiences for your customers. And in turn, result in happier customers.

But don’t forget! Listen to your employees as their perception of your brand can also influence their own interactions with your audience, for good or bad.

Not too long ago, universities didn’t have much need for a strong brand. But as the market for funding, recognition, academic talent and even student recruitment has started to heat up, the need has become critical.

survey by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup showed that in 2017, only 34% of schools polled had met their enrollment targets for the fall term on May 1, which marked a decline from 37% in 2016 and 42% in 2015. With recent setbacks like Covid-19 affecting enrollment, more universities have begun to focus on branding. At the moment, 85% of university leaders are concerned with accelerated rates of student attrition in the short term and 88% are concerned about a decline in overall future student enrollment due to Covid-19.

A strong brand and message can easily convert to higher enrollment, but with the current approach to education branding, it’s easy to see where many universities fall short. To build a stronger brand and improve student retention, follow these steps to develop a stronger brand and message.

How to develop stronger university branding and messaging

1. Collect brand perception data from every group

Universities have a lot of different stakeholders from every corner of campus. If you focus on only one group, it’s easy to miss out on some great university marketing opportunities. In order to solidify your brand and make it accessible to the majority, you need to collect brand perception data from every facet of your campus.

Most universities can be broken down into the following groups:

2. Identify student personas

Once you’ve collected perception data surrounding your university’s brand, you can begin identifying student personas. Developing these personas is a key part of your university branding strategy because it will prevent you from generalizing your brand decisions.

Your established personas will help you recognize the specific attitudes, concerns and criteria that drive prospective students toward you or your competitors.

Follow these steps to build the right personas:

By building these personas, it can give you insight into current trends other competitors may be using for recruitment.

3. Identify unique traits

Once you’ve created your student personas, you can start to identify unique traits among them. Begin by considering student niches, your location and your history.

How to maintain your university branding

Follow these steps to maintain your university’s brand:

1. Keep brand assets in one place

A critical part of university branding is consistency. If your staff or faculty can’t access your brand assets easily, you run the risk of having marketing items developed that don’t follow your brand. This in turn can undermine all the research and work you’ve put into building a brand that drives enrollment. To avoid this, keep your brand assets in one place.

2. Use lockable templates

Lockable templates will also help keep things consistent across campus. By providing lockable templates, you can put a stop to any rogue designers and ensure that everyone is using your brand assets correctly. Lockable templates don’t have to be rigid — you can provide templates that different departments can personalize.

3. Share templates with faculty and staff

Finally, be sure to share your templates with all faculty and staff. With lockable, easy-to-use templates, anyone can quickly create posters, brochures, flyers and more that can be used throughout your university.

A university’s brand is key to driving enrollment. Your brand is what draws in students, and during a time where enrollment is dropping, it’s more important than ever that your university’s brand is solid and enticing. To get better insight into attracting the modern student, check out our free ebook that will teach you how to evaluate your brand and also offers tips for delivering a consistent recruitment experience.

When it comes to marketing, every team has its challenges. Amongst non-profit organizations, however, those challenges can be vast. 

Bound to a tight budget, small teams and few resources to draw from, it may seem near impossible to create a successful marketing strategy to help your organization grow. For some, it may not be clear why a marketing strategy is necessary — you’re not working for profit, so why market at all? 

Marketing is more than just getting sales and boosting the bottom line; marketing creates valuable, memorable experiences that positively impact people for the long-term and, therefore, impact your business. 

You may not be looking to use your marketing goals to pull in revenue, but the right strategies will still work to bring in traffic (think new supporters or donors), funds and awareness to your mission.

We’ve created a quick how-to for creating a non-profit marketing strategy. By following these steps, you can grow your organization’s impact, and they won’t break the bank.

6 steps to creating a non-profit marketing strategy

1. Set marketing goals

Before you can do anything else, you need to set your marketing goals. These goals should focus on transforming your organization’s mission and objectives into actionable items. 

For example, if one of your objectives is to bring clean water to rural areas of a particular country, you should brainstorm three to five marketing ideas for advancing that objective.

One way you could use marketing to advance that objective is to post on social media about your organization and the people you are helping or by sending a weekly newsletter highlighting specific families or individuals impacted by your work.

Once you’ve brainstormed, you should turn these ideas into goals. These goals should be measurable, with specific steps to help accomplish your overall objective. 

To provide another example, you could state that one of your goals will be to see a 20% boost in traffic to your social media channels by posting X amount of times a week or month and by interacting with X amount of people on those platforms.

2. Create personas

A big part of marketing is understanding your audience, and one of the best ways to do this is to create personas of your donors, volunteers and recipients. 

It’s essential to define and understand each of these audiences because your marketing goals and strategies will differ based on which group you are addressing. For example, an email to a donor will have a different message than an email asking for volunteers.

3. Complete research on fundraising psychology

Being successful as a marketer includes having a basic understanding of human sociology and general psychology — when you know why people behave the way they do, you can start to create content they will identify with and respond to positively.

It will do wonders for you to complete research on fundraising psychology, just like researching consumer psychology aids for-profit businesses. This research can help you understand why more people donate when a campaign is closer to reaching its goal or why some people are more inclined to helping an individual than a larger group.

4. Craft messaging

The next step for creating a non-profit marketing strategy is to craft your messaging. This step is similar to creating a jingle or slogan for any business. 

You need to craft a key message that includes all the information your audiences need to hear, remember and hopefully share about your organization. You need to do this ahead of time, as it will help you keep your organization aligned. It will also simplify your marketing while keeping your different audiences organized.

5. Identify strategies and tactics

Although you may want to head straight for this step, setting up your personas and identifying actionable goals will make this step far easier and more successful. At this point, you’ve answered the who, what and how of your key messages and audiences. 

Now, you will identify which channels you are going to use. These can include social media, email marketing, events, blogs, etc. Once you decide which channels you plan to use, you will work up the strategies and tactics you plan to use on these channels (we’ll dive more into strategy specifics in the next section).

6. Measure results

It would be silly to implement any marketing strategy without a plan of measuring its success or failure. Doing this step will help you iron out any kinks and further solidify your non-profit marketing strategy. Regular analysis will help you figure out what is working and what isn’t.

Non-profit marketing strategies

The following are the best non-profit marketing strategies that will help you grow your organization’s impact. 

Focus on relationships

According to Emily Logan, a longtime activist — as well as a non-profit growth and advocacy strategist — focusing on relationships is one of the most important things a non-profit can do long before asking for anything. 

The emotional connection you make between your cause and potential donors can have a more significant impact on your organization than anything else. 

It’s not easy for people to part with their hard-earned money and according to VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, “you can’t just expect someone to donate to your cause without bringing value to them first . . . it’s an open, transparent conversation and dialogue. You need to respect your target audience.”

One great non-profit marketing strategy is to capitalize on current events and social trends.

Do you know what ALS is? You probably at least recognize the disease simply because of the ice bucket challenge that went viral years ago to help raise awareness of the illness and the search for a cure. The ice bucket challenge became a huge social media trend that everyone was participating in, from grandparents to celebrities. Current events and social trends can be one of the most accessible strategies to utilize when coming up with content marketing ideas.

Work with social media influencers

In tandem with social trends, you should start working with social media influencers. 

“Influencer” is in their title for a reason, some of the biggest names have millions of followers, and you better believe that if Jane from Carlsbad tells all the middle-aged moms to go buy this nifty kitchen gadget now, they’re going to do it. People trust individual influencers, and if you can win over a couple who will be able to spread your message, you can make a significant impact.

But, you don’t have to take our word for it. Per studies conducted by TapInfluence, “influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing,” and “influencer content on social media earns more than 8X the engagement rate of brand-direct content.” 

Not sure where or how to engage with influencers? Start by looking for micro-influencers in your local community or within your network and then go for the big dogs.

Incorporate video in content marketing

Videos are a huge part of content marketing today, and it would be a massive loss if you didn’t utilize it in your non-profit marketing strategy.

In 2017, HubSpot research found that most people will skim written or audio content, but (more noteworthy) these people were “more likely to pay attention to video content.” You’ve probably already seen other non-profits using this tactic. One great example is Charity: Water’s video — This is Pipeline.

Be sure to follow best practices with video — they don’t need to be lengthy segments to be successful. Also, video also can be produced quite easily without breaking the bank. Apps like Adobe Creative Cloud are affordable ways for a non-profit to create and edit great video content.

Find ways to automate email and text marketing

Email and text marketing can be powerful tools to have in your toolbox. When people join your email or text lists, it’s an indication of their investment — as in they care about your cause and want to support you. 

So, this likely means they’re receptive to seeing messages from you in their inboxes. To help you save time, start automating these messages. According to HubSpot research, Boomers and Gen-Xers prefer email or video content, so if they’re in one of your audience groups, you need to use email as a tactic.

Follow up after donations

It may feel small, but having someone follow up after donations can take your message a step further with donors. 

It shows you care about them — remember you’re trying to build relationships — more than just their donation. According to research from Software Advice, 60% of donors want information about impact stories, and 46% of donors prefer a personalized letter.

Build trust with consistent branding

Consistent branding is a smart practice for any organization, profit, or not.

In a case study between Lucidpress and MHA, MHA’s Community Marketing Specialist knew they needed a solution to help unify independent messaging. MHA provides care, accommodation and support services for more than 16,000 seniors throughout Britain. 

By using Lucidpress’s branding templates, they were able to streamline their messages and work seamlessly with their local homes, getting more done in less time. Having consistent, easy-to-use branding templates can save you a lot of time in the long run. Templates are easy to use for everyone within your organization and can be completely customizable.

Build your non-profit and your brand

By following these content marketing strategies of building relationships, capitalizing on social trends, working with influencers, incorporating video content, automating email, following up after donations and building trust through consistent brand, you will be able to grow your organization’s impact and start to see real results. 

Just as MHA found help with Lucidpress’s customizable templates, other non-profits are also finding help with Lucidpress. To learn more, check out how YMCA was able to keep their brand consistent across every location with Lucidpress’s lockable templates.

As a non-profit organization, your brand isn’t just a logo or text. It’s a symbol and a feeling — one that resembles hope, inspiration or kindness.

For your program participants, non-profit branding is often associated with the experiences they have while enrolled in your program. For your volunteers and donors, your brand is deeply connected to the feeling they get from giving back to the community and to others in need. 

To that end, non-profit branding and its image are synonymous with a mission and message because the brand doesn’t just serve the non-profit — it serves communities, too. 

For instance, when people see your logo or branding, whether you’re a YMCA or a garden project non-profit, you want them to remember what you’re working towards and call on you to help or be helped.

Why does non-profit branding matter?

Just as financial or food insecurity can prohibit growth, brand insecurity can have a similar impact. Writing grants and fundraising takes time, money and energy. Not only that, but it also requires you to tell a story, one of which you may not have the luxury of iterating again and again. But, if you find yourself worried that your non-profit is missing critical (and digital) fundraising opportunities, you’re not alone — 66% percent of charities share that concern.

However, a strong brand helps tell a non-profit’s story.

To quote the folks of Stanford Social Innovation Review, “a brand is a psychological construct held in the minds of all those aware of the branded product, person, organization, or movement. Brand management is the work of managing these psychological associations. In the for-profit world, marketing professionals talk of creating ‘a total brand experience.’ In the non-profit world, executives talk more about their ‘global identity’ and the ‘what and why’ of their organizations. But the point in both cases is to take branding far beyond the logo.” 

So in sum, there are two core components a strong non-profit brand can lend a hand in:

  1. Fundraising
  2. Identity

For many non-profits, these two components are inextricably linked. The stronger presence and identity you possess, the more likely people are to donate money. And the more money you can accrue, the more you can build your brand presence. 

By building a brand, you extend your capacity and reach. But, how do you do that when you’re already strapped for resources and time?

How to build your non-profit brand

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. 

The work you’re about to do (i.e., brand building) might sound counterintuitive, but it’s not. Take a minute and remember that your non-profit brand experience contributes to your collective community effort, which in turn empowers you to build a brand that lasts.

Maintain long-term brand authenticity

Whether your non-profit is well-established or relatively new, you must maintain long-term authenticity for branding to be effective.

Authenticity, while a relatively played out terminology, is a critical component to ensuring your non-profit messaging can stand the test of time and resonates with donors, program participants and volunteers. Authenticity can manifest itself in many forms, for example:

Evaluate your current impact

Having a clear, measurable impact translates into a clear, memorable experience, as well as more donations or grant opportunities. So, start building your brand strategy by evaluating your impact effectiveness.  

To do so, ask yourself, board members and core staff:

While this might be a time-consuming task at first glance, answering each of these questions ensures your organization has an appropriate and solid foundation from which to build your brand strategy from. To learn more about basic marketing strategies for non-profit organizations, check out our comprehensive (but approachable, we swear) blog post.

Make a statement

There are two statements worth making — a brand positioning statement and a value statement. 

As we mentioned in one of our previous blog posts, “a brand positioning statement is a short and concise description that sums up your brand. It includes: 

Whereas a value statement (or proposition) “should describe beneficial features of your product, services, strategy or approach.”

Keep in mind, both your brand positioning statement and value proposition are not intended to be used or seen by folks outside of your immediate organization. Both are intended to serve as a north star for branded content creation. Whether you’re writing a grant or creating new program collateral, leveraging these two statements can help content stay on-mission and helpful.

Be consistent

We can’t stress this one enough. Being consistent is your key to unlocking access to new donors, volunteers and program participants. To be consistent is to be recognized. Because being consistent not only helps set the stage for future content creation, but it also helps ensure your message is understood loud and clear.

Consistency can mean a lot of things. For example, consistency is:

Streamline and templatize

Making do with very little is the M.O. for most in the non-profit sector, so it makes sense to streamline, templatize and craft easy-to-duplicate (or copy and paste) content wherever possible. While it might feel redundant, empowering colleagues with cut-and-paste (with some customizable flair) content ensures that collateral and messaging stays true to your north star mission.

non-profit report
non-profit report

(Screenshots are from the Philanthropy report template found in the Lucidpress gallery)

Do your non-profit branding justice

Your brand, and more importantly your community, deserves a proper foundation from which you — and your colleagues — can build out from. Doing so not only ensures your ability to successfully create content in the future but it also ensures you remain visible, consistent and memorable to your target audiences. Regardless of whether or not these folks are donors, volunteers or program participants. To learn more about how to specifically create a consistent brand story from touchpoint to touchpoint, check out our ebook on nonprofit messaging and how to make do with very little.

Editor’s note: Originally, the Lucidpress blog featured two different blog posts that highlighted two eras — past and present — of Black graphic designers. In an effort to ensure the post accurately reflects the folks featured in it and to honor the need for diverse representation in graphic design, we have combined the two blog posts into one and audited them with up-to-date information.

At Lucidpress, we’re passionate about great design and inspiring everyone to create beautiful things. So we’re delighted to bring you this list of influential Black designers, reaching back to the beginning of the 1900s and continuing up to the present day. Let’s dive in!

Charles Dawson

We start with Charles Dawson, who was born in 1899. He became well-known in the 1920s-30s for his illustrated advertisements, especially for beauty products and Black artists. Unsurprisingly, his journey includes many firsts which paved the way for students after him to pursue their passions.

O Sing A New Song musical poster by Charles Dawson

“O Sing A New Song” musical poster

In 1907, Dawson was the first Black student admitted to the Art Students League in New York. It was a challenging environment where he faced many instances of bias and discrimination. In 1912, he took the summer to work in a buffet car and save tuition for the Art Institute of Chicago, which he observed was “bias-free.” An active student, Dawson was involved in several jobs and student organizations. He was a founding member of the Arts and Letters Society, the first Black artist collective in Chicago.

Dawson started working for Chicago Engravers in 1919 and departed three years later to become a freelance designer. With fellow alumni from the Institute, he established the Chicago Art League, an exhibit group for Black artists. Throughout his career, he would break more barriers:

For much of the 1930s, Dawson worked for Valmour Products. In 1944, he became the curator for both the Museum of Negro Art & Culture and the George Washington Carver Museum, where he served until his retirement in 1951.

Learn more about Charles Dawson at AIGA.org.

Aaron Douglas

Aaron Douglas was also born in 1899, but his contributions to the Harlem Renaissance (then called the “New Negro Movement”) helped to propel the art style forward. He blended the geometric shapes of Art Deco, the linear rhythm of Art Nouveau, and the rich traditions of African art to create something entirely new.

Aspects of Negro Life mural by Aaron Douglas

“Aspects of Negro Life” mural

Graduating with a BFA from the University of Nebraska in 1922, Douglas taught art in Nebraska and Missouri high schools. In 1924, he moved to New York to apprentice for Winold Reiss. After designing magazine covers for Opportunity, The Crisis, FIRE!!, and Harlem, he became a highly sought-after cover illustrator, especially among Black writers.

Douglas continued to shape the Harlem community, crafting several murals including the famous Aspects of Negro Life. In 1938, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to found the art department at Fisk University—a department he chaired for nearly three decades before retiring in 1966.

Learn more about Aaron Douglas at AIGA.org.

LeRoy Winbush

We jump forward a few years to LeRoy Winbush, who was born in 1915. His ambition might be summarized best this way: though it took him 11 years to be accepted as the first Black member of the Art Directors Club of Chicago, it took him only five more to become its president.

Album cover designs by Leroy Winbush

Album cover designs

Winbush started designing in 1936, merely one year after high school. He apprenticed making signage, murals and flyers. When he joined the sign shop at Goldblatt’s department store, he was the only Black employee. Seven years later, he was the company’s Art Director, overseeing a staff of 60 people.

In 1945, he founded Winbush Associates, his own design firm. Colleagues say he split his day between art-directing for Consolidated Manufacturing Company and for Johnson Publishing (Ebony, Jet). His career spanned many highlights:

Winbush also gave back to his community through education. Despite having no formal education himself, he taught visual communication at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He also developed a long-term exhibit about sickle-cell anemia for Chicago’s Museum of Science.

Learn more about LeRoy Winbush at AIGA.org.

Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller was born in 1920. When he graduated from the Ray-Vogue College of Design in 1950, he was the institution’s only Black student. Soon afterwards, he was one of two to be accepted into the Society of Typographic Art.

Founder's mosaic at DuSable Museum by Thomas Miller

Founder’s mosaic at DuSable Museum of African American History

Miller enjoyed decades as a successful commercial designer. After working for Gerstel/Loeff, he joined the international design firm Morton Goldsholl Associates, where he worked for 35 years on large ad campaigns, such as 7-Up’s major redesign in the 1970s.

When he wasn’t working, Miller still followed his own artistic passions, creating oil paintings and monotypes in his signature style. One of his most well-known projects can be seen today in the DuSable Museum of African American History: he created mosaic portraits of the museum’s eight founders.

Learn more about Thomas Miller at The History Makers and Wikipedia.

Emmett McBain

A graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Emmett McBain (born in 1935) also studied at the Ray-Vogue College of Design as well as the American Academy of Art. He became a designer for Vince Cullers and Associates, the first Black-owned ad agency. But that wouldn’t be the last time he was a pioneer in African-American advertising.

What Color is Black? poem advert by Emmett McBain

“What Color is Black?” poem advertisement

McBain enjoyed a varied design career, from being Playboy’s promotional art director to designing album covers for Mercury Records. He worked for J. Walter Thompson and Associates, where he took part in Ford’s 1964 campaign to introduce the Mustang.

In 1971, McBain partnered with Tom Burrell to form Burrell McBain Inc. This ad agency pioneered advertising to African-American markets and introduced corporations to the concept that “Black people are not dark-skinned white people.” Their campaigns recognized and emphasized the demographic and cultural differences that had been previously ignored in mass media. Though the agency is still around today as Burrell Communications Group, McBain left in 1974 to pursue art and support Black artistry.

Learn more about Emmett McBain in this NewCity article.

Archie Boston

In one of his most famous ads, Archie Boston leans over a table of pens and eyes the camera. “I told Pentel what to do with their pens,” the headline declares. “And they did it.” It’s a single example plucked from Boston’s long career of self-aware, provocative work.

Pentel packaging designs by Archie Boston

Pentel packaging designs

Born in 1943, Boston attended Chouinard Art Institute (later called CalArts) in 1961—and nearly dropped out to take a job in advertising. Instead, he took an internship at Carson/Roberts during his senior year. After working with his brother Brad on a variety of projects, the two founded Boston & Boston design in 1967. They never shied away from race in their work, opting instead to acknowledge it directly and challenge audiences to rethink their assumptions and prejudices.

In 1969, Archie joined Botsford Constantine and McCarthy for eight years. During his time there, he also founded Archie Boston Graphic Design and began taking clients in 1973. Later he became the first Black president of the Los Angeles Art Directors Club.

From his 20s onward, Archie has been a teacher. He started at Chouinard, and currently he’s a professor at California State University Long Beach (CSULB), where he’s taught for nearly 40 years.

Learn more about Archie Boston at AIGA.org.

Sylvia Harris

The first female designer on our list, Sylvia Harris was born in 1953. She earned her BFA in communication arts and design from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her MFA in graphic design from Yale University.

Exhibit design for The Women's Museum by Sylvia Harris

Exhibit design for The Women’s Museum

Harris spent much of her career in the public sector, planning and improving the communities around her. She started as a designer for WGBH, Boston’s public TV station. From there she moved on to The Architects Collaborative (TAC) headed by Walter Gropius, and then the prestigious Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). It was at SOM that Harris got involved in environmental urban planning; her clients there included the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In 1980, along with two partners, Harris founded Two Twelve Associates, a graphic design consulting firm. She worked on projects for many clients, including the New York State Council of the Arts, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Central Park Zoo. She also taught design students at Purchase College State University and at Yale.

Learn more about Sylvia Harris at AIGA.org.

Gail Anderson

Gail Anderson was born in 1962 and studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The art of words and letters have played a major role in her design career, starting from the beginning when she worked at Vintage Books and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. As an expert in conceptual typography, she works with all sorts of materials—traditional and non-traditional—to create eclectic expressions of style.

New Vintage Type by Gail Anderson

“New Vintage Type” book cover

Anderson was an impressive fixture at Rolling Stone Magazine for 15 years. Starting as an associate in 1987, she rose to become its Senior Art Director before departing in 2002. From there, she joined SpotCo, one of New York’s largest entertainment design agencies. Again, she rose to the top to become its Creative Director before departing in 2010.

Residents of New York City are likely familiar with Anderson’s work without even realizing it. Her poster designs for Broadway and off-Broadway plays have been hung all around the city and featured in outdoor transit advertising.

Currently, Anderson is a partner at Anderson Newton Design with Joe Newton. She’s also a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts, and she’s co-published several books on typography and graphic design.

Learn more about Gail Anderson at AIGA.org.

Eddie Opara

Born in England in 1972, Eddie Opara studied at the London College of Printing and at Yale University. After earning his MFA in 1997, he moved to New York City to work for Imaginary Forces.

Fast Co. infographic by Eddie Opara

Infographic about infographics for Fast Co.

It wasn’t too long after that when Opara became the Art Director for 2 x 4, the influential design studio. In 2005, he founded his own interactive design studio, The Map Office, in New York and began work for clients such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Architecture Research Office, the Queen Museum of Art, and New York University. In 2010, Opara joined Pentagram as a partner.

Opara’s work sits at the intersection of design and technology. He has earned numerous awards in his career, including a Gold Cube from the Art Directors Club. His work is the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In 2012 and 2014, he was named one of Fast Company‘s 100 Most Creative People in Business. Today, he’s also a senior critic at Yale.

Learn more about Eddie Opara at Famous Graphic Designers.

Michele Washington

Michele Washington, who studied at the School of Visual Arts and Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute before working for Vogue Butterick Patterns. Her career in media is wide-ranging, from newspaper design at the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times to editorial art direction at Essence and Self magazines.

Mausam packaging by Michele Washington

Mausam product packaging designs

Washington has taught a grad-level exhibition class at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). She founded and leads her own design firm, Washington Design, in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. Today she also provides creative direction for Cox Matthews Associates and user research for Cerebral Design.

Multi-cultural influences abound in Washington’s work, as her colorful designs often incorporate language, patterns, and textures from many cultures around the world. One example is the bright and earthy product packaging for her line of natural home & body products. Many of her design influences are featured in articles she’s written for her website, CulturalBoundaries.com.

Learn more about Michele Washington at AIGA.org.

Dana James Mwangi

“Creatives can do good business.” That’s the headline on Mwangi’s website , and this mantra captures her holistic approach to web design, branding & entrepreneurship.

If you’re worried you’re not creative enough, or your ideas are just too far-fetched to work, Mwangi has something to say about that — her words are inspiring and certainly ring true if you work in design or any creative field.

Black branding & design experts

@danajamesmwangi | @cheerscreative

Timothy J. Hykes

Tim Hykes is a UX consultant and frequent speaker at design conferences including Adobe Max, Design + Diversity, and AIGA. In fact, he’s become a leader in AIGA, the largest community of design advocates in the nation.

He’s also a co-founder of the Design + Diversity conference. “The Design + Diversity conference explores proactive ways to make the design industry more diverse…This is the only conference that focuses on diversity issues in the design field. This event provides a platform for constructive conversation among those who design, innovate, and lead.”

@timothyhykes | @plusdiversity

Hassan Rahim

A self-taught artist and designer, Hassan Rahim has developed an enigmatic style and dark sensibility that’s landed him work with clients like Nike, Urban Outfitters, Warp Records, and Marilyn Manson. According to an interview with Eye on Design, his big break came when a skate brand noticed his designs on MySpace and reached out to offer him work. He was 17 years old.

@hassanrahim | @hassanrahim

Antionette Carroll

Antionette Carroll sees design differently. In a world where everything has been designed—including systems of inequality—we can use design as a system to create a more equitable world. In her powerful TEDx talk (Carroll is a 2018 TED fellow), she introduces this concept and challenges us to find ways to intentionally redesign our communities.

In line with this mission, Carroll founded the Creative Reaction Lab, a nonprofit that “educates, trains, and challenges cities to co-create solutions with Black and Latinx populations to design healthy and racially equitable communities.” She calls this new form of creative problem-solving Equity-Centered Community Design.

Black branding & design experts

Currently, Carroll is an AIGA National Board Member. Along with Timothy J. Hykes (who we introduced earlier in this list), she’s also a co-founder of the Design + Diversity Conference.

@acarrolldesign

Jewel Burks

Jewel Burks has the distinction of working for and partnering with some of the biggest brands in the tech industry, from Google and Amazon to Collab Capital. Even more impressive is the fact that she founded and sold a tech startup called Partpic, a program that uses visual search algorithms to streamline the purchasing of manufacturing parts.

Burks is currently a board member for Goodie Nation, a nonprofit that supports innovative problem-solving in underserved communities. “The big thing I want in starting a business is to make a difference in my community,” she says on her website. As one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30, she’s off to an incredible start.

@jewelmelanie | @goodienation

Nakita M. Pope

Nakita M. Pope is an experienced branding strategist with nearly 20 years in the industry. She holds the fabulous title of Chief Chick at Branding Chicks, her boutique branding agency. Branding Chicks specializes in women-owned businesses and female-centric brands. She works with them to narrow their focus, boost their confidence, and clarify their messaging so it resonates with their audience.

Black branding & design experts

Pope is currently a diversity and inclusion officer for The Creative Circus, an advertising school where students can build their portfolios. She’s also a board member of AIGA Atlanta and a member of the AIGA National Diversity & Inclusion Task Force.

“I love the strategy of design. I love how designers think and solve problems visually,” she says in an interview with 28 black Designers. “As I’ve morphed into a brand strategist, I realize just how much strategy I was already doing as a designer and how that is what makes the difference between design that is simply aesthetically pleasing and design that is smart and achieves an objective.”

@brandingchicks | @realbrandingchicks

Dian Holton

Dian Holton is the Deputy Art Director for AARP. When she isn’t designing and overseeing creative work there—such as AARP’s The Magazine and TheGirlfriend—she also creates compelling window displays and mannequin styles for The Gap. Her vibrant, fresh design sensibility makes her portfolio (and her social media feeds) a visual delight.

Black branding & design experts

A graduate of the Yale School of Management, Holton serves as the Mentoring Director for AIGA’s Washington, D.C. chapter, where she oversees a mentoring speaker series with a local high school.

A post shared by Dian Holton (@dianholton) on Feb 1, 2018 at 8:52pm PST

Check out Holton’s awesome Daily Digits series, where she photographs numbers made of daily objects (like flowers, hairpins and gummy worms). The project just surpassed 1,000 posts, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

@dianholton | @dianholton

Wrap-up

This is only a handful of the incredible Black designers who’ve shaped our visual culture and continue to influence it today. It’s important to recognize not only their talent but their determination to overcome any obstacles and pave the way for future designers. Major thanks to the AIGA for being an invaluable resource in researching this post. Another round of gratitude for the African American Graphic Designers group on Facebook for being a constant source of inspiration and for introducing me to many of the folks on this list.

When you think about Coca-Cola, what pops into your head — is it the taste? The fizziness? The dark caramel color? Maybe you think of a classic ad. If you’re like me, it’s the vivid red-and-white logo adorning the label.

When you think of all of these things, you’re thinking of Coca-Cola’s brand as a whole. If lots of different Coke-related images popped into your head just now, then Coca-Cola’s marketing team has done its job.

Coca-Cola

Too many people think branding begins with choosing a name and ends with picking a logo — but it’s much more than that. It affects everything.

So, when a company wants to rebrand, it’s not about just changing the logo. It’s also about changing goals, messaging, tone, voice, style and anything else that contributes to your image. It can be a tricky thing to get right, because ultimately, you can’t control what people think. But a well thought-out and defined brand is the backbone of many successful companies.

If there’s so much to it, why would anyone dream of rebranding? When is rebranding the best option?

Well, you could have gotten it wrong the first time. Many businesses overlook branding when they’re starting out and later find they need to rethink it. For some, they need to appeal to a broader audience. Others need to change tack when they decide to expand into other markets.

Long-established companies aren’t immune to the need to rebrand, either. It might be necessary after an acquisition or merger. Changing industries, attitudes and new competitors can also ignite the need for a fresh image. When a company needs to reposition or rejuvenate itself, rebranding makes sense.

Deeper issues, like an antiquated image or a negative reputation, can spur a rebrand. Sometimes, it can even come down to involvement in a damaging public scandal.

When you face challenges like these, you have two options. You can cling to the old branding that you had, or you can put together a rebranding strategy and work towards a new image.

Whatever the reason, make sure you have a strong case for the rebrand. Though there’s a lot to it, rebranding is part of the life cycle for many growing companies. Very few of us wear the same clothes now as we did in high school — so why wouldn’t a brand evolve as well? 

Reasons to do a rebrand:

Reasons to do a brand refresh instead:

Considering the points above, it may be that you don’t need to go through an entire rebrand: Your current brand may just need some polish, also known as a brand refresh. A refresh is a much lighter version of a rebrand, and though they both entail a lot of the same work, a refresh simply updates your current brand instead of making the sweeping changes that a rebrand does.

If you’re still not sure if rebranding is right for your company, check out our rebranding questionnaire

Rebranding strategy

Rebranding a company doesn’t happen overnight. You need a solid rebranding strategy, testing and approval, and then you need to roll it out internally before your big debut with your customers. 

Here’s our advice on the five steps to follow to get rebranding strategies right. 

1. Research before you rebrand

Before making any changes, you’ve got to do research to find out how your brand can improve. What do people like about your brand? How can it connect with modern consumers? There are endless questions to ask when building a new identity. The more knowledge you have, the more effective your rebranding strategy will be.

During this process, find out what attracted customers to your brand initially … or why they went to a competitor instead. Figure out the problems you need to address with the rebrand.

Coca-Cola once decided to rebrand, but its New Coke campaign flopped. Coca-Cola didn’t have any issues with its product’s taste or image, but it decided to change both. The result wasn’t an energized image but confused loyal customers. So, make sure to do your research.

Burberry’s rebranding strategy is a great example of how to strike this balance. After a century-and-a-half of success, Burberry’s image started to suffer when — through no efforts of its own — the brand became associated with gang wear and fashion for older generations. Thanks to this double punch, clubs in the U.K. wouldn’t allow entry to anyone wearing the brand’s iconic plaid.

Burberry

Faced with this unsavory situation, Burberry decided to rebrand, but it did its research first. The company hired an anthropologist to rediscover its roots so that Burberry could highlight its heritage in a way that would appeal to younger audiences (while also disassociating its name from gang wear).

2. Set out clear goals

From your research, you’ll know what’s wrong, and this should help you figure out what you want to achieve. Burberry needed to disassociate its brand from gangs and build a modern youthful image.

Knowing it needed to appeal to younger audiences, the label added more modern styles to its line and recruited well-known celebrities like Emma Watson to promote them. This led to a boost in sales and an image readjustment for the brand, which once again became a luxury name.

There’s no point rebranding a business if all you change is the name. When it became The Shack, RadioShack did exactly this. The business wanted to stem the flow of losses, but a name change just didn’t cut it. Maybe if it had gotten to the root of the problem and set out more strategic goals, the brand wouldn’t continue to close its doors.

With thorough research and clear goals, your rebranding strategy will be well-informed and should make an impact.

3. Get all company stakeholders on-board

To get customers on-board with a rebrand, you’ll need to get all stakeholders involved first. Your employees are the main touchpoint between your brand and the outside world, so they need to understand the importance of your new brand. You want to make sure what they say and do is in keeping with your new image.

The CEO who led Burberry’s turnaround, Angela Ahrendts, knew there was a problem when she saw that none of the company’s managers wore the brand. How can expect your customers to love your brand when your own staff doesn’t?

If your rebranding strategy aims to address a bad rep for customer care, you’ll have to invest in training and resources to deliver better customer experiences. In situations like these, it can be a good idea to rebrand internally first.

When setting out a rebranding strategy for a client in the financial sector, consultants Spyglass Creative decided to do just this. To convince the board of management of the importance of stellar customer service, waiters with silver platters served lunch to the members and introduced the idea of “sterling service.” With a clear view of the vision for the rebrand, they supported the new approach.

4. Have a process planned out

Once you’ve got stakeholders on your side and know exactly what needs to be achieved, you can put together a plan of action. In the case of Burberry, the company was active on many fronts. It introduced new designs and bought back licenses for its classic plaid pattern, so it could protect the brand’s image and make it exclusive once again. The company also created a brand story, which it told through videos and in-store displays.

Your rebranding strategy might require you to take up social media. Or, it could impact the networks you already advertise on.

Prior to 2010, Old Spice was seen as a retro brand for older men. While its reputation was sound, it simply didn’t appeal to younger audiences. It decided to change this.

The brand set up a YouTube channel and posted dozens of fun, humorous videos featuring actor and former athlete Isaiah Mustafa.

The rebrand was a massive success, opening up the traditional product to a new demographic by making the most of new trends. Old Spice did its research, rebranded for sensible reasons and set out clear goals.

5. Build trust for your new brand

Once you’ve rebranded, don’t slip backwards. Familiarize your audience with your new brand personality by staying consistent and building trust around it.

If you have a new name or logo, don’t leave a trace of the old one around. Create new brand guidelines and make it easy for staff to implement them. A brand templating platform like Lucidpress can help by making brand assets easily accessible during the content creation process. When any files are updated, everyone will automatically have access to them, too.

Use your new brand in all your communications to build awareness of it. Use a link shortener like Rebrandly to create branded links for your emails and social media posts. This will build brand visibility and trust. Content marketing and native advertising can also build familiarity and trust in your new image. Be consistent with your new tone, and don’t flip-flop between your old brand and the new one.

Branding is an important company asset, and it can leave a lasting image in consumers’ minds. Make sure your rebranding strategy sticks, because it can rejuvenate a business and even turn it around when the chips are down.

How to rebrand a company

Follow these steps and plan how to successfully rebrand your business.

1. Define your audience

If your audience is 70-year-old retirees, you probably don’t want to alienate them with something that feels so modern it’s out of their reach. The same goes for a millennial audience. If you’re rebranding, it might be because you’re redefining your niche and ideal customer. Make sure your branding speaks as much to that ideal audience as your sales copy does.

2. Stay true to your mission

A rebrand should be a makeover, not a botched surgery. Before you begin, go over your mission and value statements. Come up with an idea of where you are now and where you want to go — without losing sight of who you are and what your customers have come to love. Project your mission and personality in your new branding so you feel like a refreshed company, not an unrecognizable one. If you’re having trouble finding your brand’s voice, try this tool.

3. Rethink your name

Name is the first and most recognizable brand element. Rebranding doesn’t always involve a name change, but it can be a powerful strategy — especially if the company is looking for a fresh start. Did you know that the infamous Philip Morris company changed its name to Altria to disassociate itself from bad press and controversy? Considering how a number of journalists reported on the obvious change, it’s hard to say whether it was successful, but only time will tell.

One more thing to consider is the possibility of alienating or losing older clients with a name change. A fresh start is a double-edged sword, so make sure you’re ready to give up your established legacy in favor of a new brand identity.

4. Revamp your tagline

Slogans and taglines often go hand-in-hand with a brand’s name. Usually, a tagline is a catchy sentence that summarizes your business and is easy to remember. If you decide to change your name, you should do the same with your tagline — especially if the business has changed. Over the years, FedEx has had several long and unmemorable taglines, so it changed to “Relax, It’s FedEx” in 2004 and “The World on Time” in 2009, both of which are simple and effective.

Rebuild your brand identity

Your brand identity is how you present your company to the world. It’s everything that customers recognize your brand for, from visual style to voice and personality. Be sure to include these key elements of brand identity in your rebranding strategy.

Since people are visual thinkers, updating your logo is the easiest way to demonstrate change to your audience. As for the logo design, you have to follow (and subvert) trends if you want to appear fresh. But, be careful with it. You don’t want to drift too far away from the original logo unless you’re trying to conceal your past. You want people to acknowledge the change but also recognize the company’s continuity.

Color palette

Color psychology is real — and different colors make people feel different things, so consider how you want your brand to make people feel. Blue is a calming color, pink is soft and romantic, black is bold and sophisticated, etc.

It’s best to go for a simple color palette with no more than 3 primary colors. You can also choose secondary colors to create your brand palette. You’ll be experimenting with tint, shade and saturation to get the look and feel of your brand just right.

Typography

Typography is truly an art, and choosing the right fonts for your brand can help you stand out and be easily recognizable. Just like colors, font styles can make people feel a certain way. You want to find a pair of complementary fonts that reflect your brand’s personality, whether that’s modern and youthful, bold and innovative, or however else you’d describe your brand. You’ll need to consider things like font size, kerning and line height, readability and licensing requirements.

Shapes and imagery

Along with colors and fonts, your other visual assets communicate who you are to your customers. Again, think about what visuals will communicate your brand’s identity, personality and feeling. Is your brand angular, rounded, flat, soft, natural, futuristic? Are you using animations, photographs, GIFs, videos? All design elements come into play here and there’s a lot to explore.

Brand guidelines

Once you have your new brand identity outlined, the best thing you can do for your rebranding efforts is create a clear and easy-to-access set of brand guidelines. This will ensure that your team can reference the new guidelines and keep your rebrand looking consistent. Without full compliance from your internal teams, it can be hard to have a successful rebrand.

Tips and tricks for a successful rebrand launch

1. Know your limit — err, budget

Creating content, running tests and paying for ads all costs money. Around 10-20% of your annual marketing budget can be spent just on rebranding efforts. Developing a well-designed content calendar will help identify where most of your money will be spent and give you an idea of when you’ll need to be prepared for these expenses.

2. Testing: 1, 2, 3

Taking the time to run tests on your content will help to solidify your marketing strategy. It’s not always a guarantee that a rebranding effort is going to be successful. The best way to prevent a failed rebranding is to test your assets before releasing them to the public. Study groups and A/B testing can uncover and strengthen any weak points in your rebranding strategy.

3. Demand consistency

Branding should be synonymous with “consistent messaging.” When you rebrand, you need to go back through every webpage, design element and evergreen brochure to update it with your fresh look, tone and feel. Don’t dilute your new branding by confusing it with the old. Get everything polished in one fell swoop. Brand consistency was important before the rebrand, and it’s even more important now. Consistency establishes company-client trust, which leads to higher revenues.

A platform like Lucidpress can be a huge help in your rebranding and consistency efforts. It gives a central place to put all your brand assets and files, providing easy access for anyone who needs them. You can put all your new colors and logos in the brand assets hub, so when people are creating content, there’s no chance of them using an old logo or font, etc.

You can create a template library with all of your rebranded and updated materials, so spanking-new content is right at everyone’s fingertips. Plus, when you decide to refresh your brand again down the road, all the content will be in one easy-to-update location. A centralized platform for branded content creation will make it easier to roll out your rebrand to internal teams, so can ensure that everyone’s up to speed before your public debut. 

Is it time to rebrand your business or organization? Learn more in our free ebook: How and why to rebrand your company

The best storytellers know that a good story is more than telling romanticized tales about a life lived. Good storytelling knits together polarity — people, spaces, emotions, conflict and impact — and transforms it into something visible and tangible. While there is a time and a space for waxing poetic, truly compelling storytelling is defined by authenticity and the sum of many parts.

Furthermore, let’s be honest: Try as we might, we can’t all be like Walt Disney. Sometimes we simply can’t feign magic when it’s not there, or perhaps the nature of our work prevents it. Alternatively, we have to practice active listening and cobble together stories from there — because your audience is people too.

To help dispel the myth that we can or must all be like Walt Disney (someday when we grow up), we reached out to the best storytellers we know and asked them to tell us their secret storytelling recipe. Naturally, they delivered.

So without further ado, we’re bringing the TLDR, best-of-the-best storytelling tips to you, so hopefully, you can take something from them and apply it to your stories.

Storytellers featured in this article

How to create compelling stories

Some stories come to life quicker or easier than others. However, regardless of the speed with which you create stories, our blog post participants recommended the following initial tips to nurture an evocative storytelling experience:

Nurture a human connection

“We look for the human element in every piece. Every person has different experiences, but we can connect so quickly through shared emotions. Heartache, love, failure and triumph all feel the same regardless of the circumstances that cause those feelings.”

Natalie Ipson

Remember to center the storyteller’s voice, not your own

“I think that good storytelling from a nonprofit, or even journalistic, standpoint has to be unselfish.  When crafting a client story, you are merely a conduit to someone’s story, giving them a voice and platform to be heard. When presenting an organization’s story, you are offering someone an opportunity to support something they are passionate about and believe in. While it certainly doesn’t hurt if you are also passionate about and believe in that work, YOU as an individual aren’t a part of that relationship except as a conveyor of information.”

Leidy Wagener

Leverage technicalities and data when it works

“Everything I write comes back to two questions: How can I most effectively resonate with our customers, and how can I best embody our company mission? We can track the former through analytics. We use all the fancy metrics like click-through rate, ROAS for paid media and so forth. On a technical level, I know what keywords tend to convert better than others when describing our coffee, or which value propositions to use when targeting a higher funnel audience. And I know which CTAs will lead to the most sales. It’s mad science.”

Matt Halpin

Validate passion through messaging

“Especially on the product side, we normally come to stories with a lot of passion, and I do believe that this is an important component of the story: We care. It’s our legacy. Our innovations show that. But passion needs to be validated through straightforward messaging (there’s room for clever, too); it’s easy to forget that not everyone lives and breathes this stuff. I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to demonstrate this is by articulating Problem — Solved.”

Hanna Reichel

The storytelling production process

Jumpstarting the storytelling process can be trying, but our storytellers brought to life their go-to approaches to the storytelling production process without fail. We’ve inverted these suggestions to be reflected as questions for you, the reader, to leverage as an internal checklist as you create stories yourself.

Do I know my audience?

“Every piece of content I create starts with first understanding who my audience is and what that audience needs and wants from me. It’s Communication 101 (so basic!), but so many of us often skip right past that step.”

Natalie Ipson

Do I understand my audience’s triggers or stressors? What can I share that relieves that stress?

People consume content because they want to obtain something. This “something” can be educational, informative, or offer reinforcement for what they already know. Understanding the so-called turning point that pushed your audience into the content consumption phase of their experience is critical. In other words, good storytellers comprehend people’s stressors or triggers, and these folks know how to share information that offers relief or a solution.

What does my audience care about, and am I connected with that passion?

Intersectionality is a critical concept when exploring what your audience cares about and is passionate about. Because for every general group of people, there will be smaller subsets of audiences who experience impact differently. By knowing what your audience cares about (or is impacted by), you can create stories that reflect that passion. Be wary of falling victim to disingenuous gestures or stories — i.e., avoid performative activism, allyship, or storytelling to get content out there.

What is the medium or format I’ll be telling the story from?

“The format in which a story’s told is critical to how you structure your story. A 30-minute speech means you might have a 5-minute intro, 15 minutes for the core content, 5 minutes for a conclusion, and 5 minutes for Q&A. Suppose you are writing a letter to the editor for a newspaper. In that case, you may only have 300 words to tell a story, meaning you are likely limited to focus on just one theme, for a general audience, who you are trying to sway with emotion rather than facts. Facts require lengthy data points. Emotive content requires relatable and experiential content.”

Jon Carter

Do I have a conscious audience, and does my audience care about the story? Why or why not?

“I got the chance to participate in a brand overhaul — we realized that on top of needing a new look and feel, we had to build a conscious audience. We didn’t lack a following, but it wasn’t cohesive or aligned along a particular plotline. This [the overhaul] was cathartic: it was almost as if the audience motivated us to build the product — and the story resonated with our heritage and our audience’s ethos. They inspired us as much as we inspired them. I think being open to what the audience has to teach you is a critical part of storytelling.”

Hanna Reichel

Have I answered key questions? Do I need to explain the basics?

Avoid making assumptions about what your audience knows or doesn’t know. Complicated issues, or uncomplicated ones, can take time to understand, and everyone processes information differently. Guide people through the story with kindness, compassion and attention to detail. Unpack whether or not you need to approach the subject or story from different perspectives or angles. Knowing your audience will help with this part of the storytelling process.

Have I created a “before” and “after” for the story?

“What distinguishes good brands is their ability to deliver common-sense solutions to common problems. So with my product development and marketing teams, I always ask them to do the “Before” and “After” to distill what the design impetus was and what they were able to resolve through innovation. Often this looks like a bulleted list, and honestly, that’s the scaffolding for a good story. The narrative comes alive with human touchpoints: testimonials, personal anecdotes, etc.”

Hanna Reichel
best storytellers

What makes the best stories?

The best stories are immersive ones — the ones people read until the very last sentence. But what exactly goes into making good and great stories? According to our proverbial “Storytellers Board,” it lay in your ability to:

Illustrate relatability and human emotion

“The anecdote of Ernest Hemmingway winning a bet by writing a compelling story in six words is a perfect example of this: “For Sale: Baby shoes,  never worn.” Though the attribution to Hemmingway has never been substantiated, the point remains the same: you leave a lasting impression on your audience by connecting with their emotions as quickly as you can (e.g., the initial eight minutes of Pixar’s Up).”

Natalie Ipson

Use conflict as your aid

“The best story has conflict. It gets your attention, it’s entertaining and simply put, it’s like life. Life is full of setbacks and challenges and obstacles. Conflict.”

Jon Carter

Show what’s at stake

“The higher the stakes, the higher the suspense. Great conflict without great stakes, the audience is wondering why they should care.”

Jon Carter

Illuminate all aspects of the story

“A story is great when it is whole, which is a little hard to explain, I suppose.  When I think of a great storyteller or story, I think of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk “The Danger of the Single Story” and how she explains all that we are missing out on when only one aspect of a story or person is told.  She is a great storyteller herself, but I think a great storyteller doesn’t fall into the trap of the Single Story and works a subject until it’s illuminated in entirety — even if all of the components aren’t necessarily part of the final result.”

Leidy Wagner

Connect with the audience’s values

“Not all stories we tell in the brand space are emotive at first glance, but we know that purchases — and brand loyalty — are ultimately emotional decisions, so it’s important to connect with the audience’s values. Speak their language, but also stay fluent in yours.”

Hanna Reichel

What makes the best storytellers?

Every storyteller has their unique approach to pulling threads in a story and experience. However, what it boils down to is your capability to demonstrate voice, likability, active listening and authenticity.

Voice

“Voice gives your story character, and provides a feeling of authenticity and trust that this story is coming from the heart.”

Natalie Ipson

Likability

“The best storyteller is a sympathetic character. One whose relatable to the audience. If an audience is going to listen in and pay attention, why stick around if the storyteller isn’t likable. Why are your friends your friends? Same concept here. If the storyteller can also provide character change through experience, that goes even further in keeping your audience entertained and ready to act.”

Jon Carter

Active listening

“A great storyteller also has to be a great listener; only then can the subject [or story] be told completely and genuinely.”

Leidy Wagener

Authenticity

“Companies have so many pixels or seconds to convey their stories, and the most successful ones cut through the ordinary by tugging on our heartstrings. That could come through humor, a connection over a shared value or experience, or anything else that resonates with us [as humans] more than consumers.”

Matt Halpin

The best storytellers are all around you

The reality is we all have the capability of being storytellers.

However, the best storytellers are the folks who see the heart of a story, do the research and imbue words with rapt attention, tenor and authenticity. Good storytelling, and thus good stories, requires patience and the use of active listening. Keep in mind not all stories resonate with everyone, but (in part) that is the key to creating and nurturing a story — imparting education, conflict, development and relief.

Magic, try as we might, is not always given, but it is earned.

Check out our ebook The rise of the design democracy: How to maintain a consistent brand story.

You’ve probably heard of the term “employee engagement” by now, but have you heard of employee experience? As more and more companies shift towards customer-centric goals and healthy work environments, we’re seeing an overall prioritization of the employee experience. And for a good reason too. 

A great employee experience can lead to some pretty stellar success for your company. But what’s the point in building a great employee experience? 

What is employee experience?

First off, just what is employee experience? 

Well, employee experience is everything an employee experiences at work, which can be anything from software to interactions with you or their teams. It’s a general term that encapsulates the full spectrum of an employee’s experience throughout their time with your organization.

But don’t confuse employee experience with employee engagement. Employee engagement is a focus on rewards and perks. It’s a booster shot businesses use to jump-start their beating heart. It can include recognition programs, a different floor layout, monetary rewards, etc. 

Employee engagement is more of a stepping-off point. It’s good when you first initiate it, but you need to have something more concrete to continue the momentum forward — which is where employee experience comes into play. 

As the name suggests, the employee experience is a movement all about creating workspace practices that fit your people. So, instead of trying to make square pegs fit into round holes, you change the holes to fit the pegs, which we’re aware sounds likely overwhelming and heady. 

Let’s keep moving.

Why employee experience matters

Cool, cool, cool. So what, why does it matter? 

Your employees want to be valued as human beings — not just valued for what they offer the company. If you’ve received employee feedback along the lines of ‘I don’t know how my work impacts ROI’ or ‘I don’t feel heard or appreciated,’ then your org could stand to benefit from a revamped employee experience.

In a study by Deloitte University Press, researchers found nearly 80% of execs worldwide rated employee experience as necessary or very important. On top of that, experiential organizations have seen four times higher average profits with 40% lower turnover. This isn’t surprising when you think about how a great employee experience lends happier, more engaged and efficient workers.

Additionally, organizations that invest in employee experience can be found almost four and a half times as often on LinkedIn’s list of North America’s Most In-Demand Employers and are 11.5 times more likely to be found in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work.

If that doesn’t convince you, consider these employee engagement stats:

Stages of the employee experience

The employee experience begins when someone steps in the door, all the way to when they leave your company. 

In total, there are five stages of the employee experience:

Recruitment

This includes every step involved in identifying, attracting, screening, interviewing and hiring a new employee. As you work toward improving the recruitment process, consider:  how long does it take to hire, how much does it cost (to hire), what is the rate of offer acceptance and the hire’s quality? Is the interview process engaging? Do your job ads attract the best talent? Evaluate current effectiveness and unpack what you could do better.

Onboarding

The onboarding, or training stage, is where your new hires get up to speed with your tools, processes and systems. The quicker a new employee can get up to speed, the sooner they can get the ball rolling. You’ll know if your onboarding process is effective by whether or not a new hire’s initial enthusiasm translates into a more meaningful, long-term connection to the company.

Development

Development is the ongoing stage in your employees’ journeys. Everyone will develop at different rates, but you need to quantify their productivity, promotion aspirations, and ability to be a team player as they grow. Offer them a chance to expand their skillset.

Retention

At this point in the journey, your employees are fully integrated into your organization. Now, the challenge is how to keep them performing and contributing to the organization’s success. It can often cost upwards of $35k to replace an employee, so finding ways to ensure yours are inspired and connected can save you a lot of cash.

Exit

Whether your employees leave due to retirement, move to a new employer, or have a life change, you need to understand what drives the transition. Doing so can help you improve and develop the employee experience.

How to improve the employee experience

Make it count

Changing the employee experience requires a holistic approach — it’s a change that has to happen at the core. You need to be empathetic and thoughtful in your interactions with your employees. Treat them like customers. It’s easy to look at the customer experience and see what you do there and mirror it to what you want to do for your employee experiences.

Co-create solutions

Affecting change in the workplace requires help from HR. It’s a chance for HR to bring both employees and leaders to the table to improve the employee experience. Sit downs like this help streamline testing needs and socialization efforts, allowing for things to move from concept to execution quicker when both leaders and employees are involved in finding a solution.

Refine the creative process

Find pain points in the creative process and eliminate them. By making these changes, teams can prioritize time for the most meaningful work. For example, we recommend creating a system of checks and balances using content creation software. By doing so, you empower employees to make personalized adjustments to creative content while ensuring your creative team can continue to focus on meaningful projects instead of making small edits all day. Templates can come in handy to keep things on-brand, so you don’t have to worry about significant changes (or typos) happening to content before it gets shipped out to clients.

Use the right tools and technology

Good tech helps streamline otherwise complicated (or dysfunctional) processes and improve employee engagement. With the right tools, your employees can effectively get their job done — minus a lot of frustration.

Ways to measure the employee experience

As with any changes you make to your work processes, it’s important to measure employee experience to ensure these changes work. You can do this in several ways, such as:

Knowing what your employees feel at various stages of their growth and employment with your company can help you improve not just their experience but your org’s overall success. Disgruntled or unhappy employees could cause some significant setbacks. 

As you begin to turn your focus inward and find ways to understand your employees’ needs better, you’ll start to see a unity within your company that you may not have seen before. 

If you want to find out more about the impact of employee experience on customer experience, check our ebook on CX failure.

For most designers, their work is based on their ability to move quickly and get things done in a hurry, which leaves little room for creativity and ultimately leads to subpar projects, products and designs. 

But this doesn’t have to be the case anymore. With design operations, also known asDesignOps, your organization can start to streamline the design process without jeopardizing the quality of your designers’ work.

Defining DesignOps — what is DesignOps?

Dave Malouf of IxDA, Design Ops Summit, first described DesignOps as “everything that supports high-quality crafts, methods and processes.” In more specific terms, it’s the person — or department — that plans, defines and manages the design process. DesignOps ensures that the creative process is not only running efficiently but that your designers have the space needed for trial and error in the task or product design and development.

According to Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Principal Consultant at Strategic UX and Founding Director of Interaction Design Association, most organizations that have implemented a DesignOps approach are able to “evolve and improve product and service designs at a faster pace than organizations using traditional UX design and research processes [and can] better serve their customers, and compete more effectively in the market.”

DesignOps as a proactive solution

DesignOps is a proactive solution to the obstacles designers encounter on a daily basis. Do any of these instances sound familiar to you or your designers?

However, DesignOps is meant to help solve these very problems by building a more efficient design process within your organization. By establishing a role or department specific to managing DesignOps, teams inevitably create stronger content and products, therefore benefiting everyone involved in the design process.

Components of DesignOps

A DesignOps team’s main goal is to streamline a designer’s workflows without jeopardizing the integrity of the creative process. To do so, the DesignOps team should focus on these four components: design process, team coordination, design tools and design culture.

So, what do these four components look like in practice?

Design process

First, you want to rework your design process. To do so:

  1. Start by identifying weaknesses in your existing process. Weaknesses might look like — a lack of communication between teams, off-brand content being created, an absence of brand guidelines or templated content collateral for others to work off of. 
  2. Institute a process that optimizes designers’ everyday workflow. To be effective is to be efficient, which means you want to eliminate processes, tools and solutions that are getting in the way of your team fulfilling their role and showboating your brand. 
  3. Establish clear metrics of success. Giving your team a sense of direction and measurable success ultimately provides them with a sense of belonging and understanding of how their role contributes to the business. Without clear metrics and goals, well, that’s a whole other issue.
  4. Implement good meeting etiquette by reducing unnecessary meetings and ensuring remaining meetings are more productive. No one likes being a part of meetings that feel more like they’re A.) A therapy session B.) A waste of time C.) As though they should know what’s going on when they don’t and D.) An opportunity to socialize instead of work. 
  5. Determine clear design delivery by deciding who sees the work and when. Providing clear guardrails with stakeholder reviews and various other important touchpoints empowers your design team to make changes on the fly and adapt to important feedback instead of having to start from the ground up again should the collateral not be what the requesting party needed.

As you evaluate the design team’s process, be sure to get input from the various stakeholders who work with the design team. For instance, find out what’s working or not working for these key stakeholders and get additional context as to why they interact with the design team or make the requests. Any process changes you make will only be impactful if the final product meets the needs of everyone on your team.

Team coordination

A DesignOps role will give designers the space to concentrate on design work. Therefore, DesignOps will be more involved in the following aspects:

Design tools

Another component of DesignOps is to choose what tools the design teams will need to work efficiently. They will monitor, delegate and regulate the tools and systems in place as well as ensuring designers adopt any new tools. Under this component, DesignOps will also set the standard for building components in code so designers can work in closer collaboration in design with developers.

Design culture

Establishing a design culture goes beyond the culture on the immediate design team. Educating stakeholders across the company about the importance of good design and branding is a critical step toward leveraging what’s called design thinking — as in when an org moves away from treating design as though it’s a cog in the wheel, to using it as an important component of the business strategy. 

Holding branding workshops and creating a brand style guide are a great place to start. However, you’ll also want to identify ways that empower every employee to understand and use great design as it will have the greatest impact on employees remembering and embracing the impact of great design.

Which leads us to the final component of DesignOps — design culture. Culture may seem trivial compared to the other three components but don’t take it for granted — it’s what ensures your design team is happy. This can include:

How to incorporate DesignOps

There are a couple of ways you can incorporate DesignOps into your organization, either through a DesignOps role or through DesignOps thinking.

Not sure if you could stand to benefit from hiring a DesignOps role or implementing DesignOps thinking? Well, there’s a few things to help you evaluate:

Either approach you take will require you to scale production and ensure that your design team is set up for success. 

DesignOps role

Hiring for a DesignOps role will require someone to rework your entire design process. An ideal candidate would have a background in creative thinking (or design experience themself), project management and have excellent communication and organization skills. You want to keep your eyes peeled for other less trainable, soft skills that someone would have such as empathy, affability and an ability to compromise, say no or see both sides of an argument.

To rework the design process, start small. Don’t try to completely overthrow the entire system in one day. You’ll have anarchy. Instead, have your DesignOps individual be responsible for understanding the needs and challenges for this one project and then introduce required changes. Starting with one project will give them the chance to test out the new design process.

DesignOps thinking

If your organization is needing a bigger cultural shift, it may be necessary to completely change your organization’s design thinking. Start by evaluating your current design process. Be sure to get feedback from your design team, engineers, product teams and marketing teams to determine what problems they’re facing. Discuss how DesignOps can help solve these issues.

Next, create a shared vision around how DesignOps will work within your organization. Establishing this will help your design team understand the need for this change.

How DesignOps is applied in real life — at Lucidpress

At Lucidpress, we develop a culture of design thinking via a process we call brand templating. Brand templating not only eliminates small design requests that eat up the creative team’s time but also helps empower all employees to embrace good design as mentioned in the section above. Brand templating follows these steps.

  1. Templatize your most frequently used content
  2. Lock down brand elements, so they can’t be changed
  3. Give employees access to those templates, so they can quickly access and tweak the content that they need.

Since creating a library of templates, our events manager can quickly create graphics to promote an upcoming webinar by updating the copy on a premade template instead of submitting a design request. Our sales team can customize a proposal to a specific customer without having to request an edit or wait for the proposal to come back. And meanwhile, our creative team can focus on their most important work without worrying about how the brand is being represented.

Scale production with DesignOps and the right tools

Imagine the impact DesignOps could have on your organization as your teams begin to work closer together on this new vision for your design process. With just a couple of significant changes, you can start to see benefits from this more collaborative work like brand consistency and quicker delivery on projects. And if you need more than just DesignOps for brand consistency, check out our free ebook on how to maintain a consistent brand story.

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