Brand Strategy

This is a list of artificial intelligence (AI) design tools, statistics and trends of their usage, current standing and growth updated through 2023.

In the rapidly evolving world of design, artificial intelligence is making a profound impact.

From Midjourney to Mar, AI design tools are empowering creative professionals to streamline workflows, boost productivity, and create cutting-edge designs with unprecedented ease.

We’ll explore these data-driven insights and how these tools are revolutionizing the way we conceptualize, iterate, and execute design projects. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it is rather comprehensive to give you a good idea of some leading Design tools that are utilizing AI to their advantage and the advantage of their users.

Contents

The Rising Demand for AI Design Tools
Interest in AI design by State in the United States
The Impact on Design Efficiency
Enhanced Personalization and User Experience
The Power of AI in Creativity
AI Design Companies, Trends, and Statistics

  1. Figma
  2. Adobe Firefly, XD & Illustrator
  3. Sketch
  4. Axure RP
  5. Marq
  6. Framer
  7. InVision
  8. Proto.io
  9. Midjourney
  10. Canva
  11. Dream Studio
  12. CorelDRAW
  13. TopazLabs
  14. Uizard
  15. Autodraw
    Growth in AI-Integrated Design Platforms
    Data Security and Privacy Concerns
    Bridging the Gap Between Designers and Developers
    Conclusion

The image below comes from explodingtopics.com showcasing some of the high level statistics of the AI industry as a whole including all types of generative AI including but not limited to design.

ai-stats

The Rising Demand for AI Design Tools

The demand for AI design tools has witnessed an unprecedented surge in 2023. According to Google trends, the search volume for AI design related tools and software has increased 1700% from 2022 to 2023 alone.

AI-Design-1024x317

Interest in AI design by State in the United States

The interest in AI design when broken down into sub topics and related queries spans from ai image generation to Ai design tools that allow teams to take components of AI and marry them to their own brand and designs speeding up and making more efficient their own design teams and processes.

The interest in AI design across the United States is ubiquitous. The regions/states in the top 5 positions of high interest are; 1. District of Columbia 2. California 3. Washington 4. Hawaii and 5. Utah

ai-state-1024x314

The Impact on Design Efficiency

AI design tools have proven instrumental in streamlining design workflows. By automating repetitive tasks and offering real-time suggestions, these tools save designers valuable time and effort. Surveys indicate that a significant percentage of design professionals believe that AI has significantly improved their design efficiency, allowing them to focus on more creative and strategic aspects of their work.

IDC suggests that generative design, even more broadly generative AI, finds value in creating something for humans to react to. With AI’s initial start and its recommendations overseen by humans creates increased velocity and efficiency in creating on-brand design.

Enhanced Personalization and User Experience

In the age of personalized experiences, AI design tools are helping designers cater to individual user preferences more effectively. By analyzing user data and behavioral patterns, AI-powered tools provide valuable insights into user preferences and expectations. This data-driven approach enables designers to craft highly tailored and user-centric designs, resulting in enhanced user experiences.

Per Gartner, “A good experience designer brings user insights from research as well as knowledge of human psychology – and blends them with the organization’s product vision”. They continue, “Advances in AI will mean that designers spend less time building . . and more time focusing on solving real problems for users”.

The Power of AI in Creativity

Contrary to the misconception that AI stifles creativity, statistics reveal that AI design tools foster innovation and creativity. With AI-generated design suggestions and intelligent pattern recognition, designers are inspired to explore novel ideas and experiment with new concepts that they may not have considered otherwise. This synthesis of human creativity and AI assistance leads to groundbreaking and aesthetically captivating designs.

AI Design Companies, Trends, and Statistics

As mentioned above, the interest in AI design is wide because the use case of artificial intelligence in design is also quite wide. While AI image generation alone has made massive strides in 2023, for many companies looking to streamline their own design teams and processes, the AI images alone don’t fit the bill. Which is why there are design tools now that offer AI as a part of the complete design tool. *Data provided by Crunchbase, SEMrush, and Google Trends.

1. Figma:

Figma is a collaborative design tool that allows teams to work together on UI/UX design, prototyping, and user testing. It has plugins and integrations that support AI design-related functionalities.

Figma has witnessed a significant rise in popularity among designers, with over 4 million users as of September 2021. Its collaborative features and cloud-based nature have contributed to its widespread adoption.

See Figma’s cumulative fundraising over time and note the 150% increase year over year Q2 of 2020 to Q2 of 2021.

figma-768x295

Also note the considerable increase in organic presence up 115% year over year (June 2022 to June 2023, website traffic coming from organic search results in search engines due to content and features put out meeting their audience needs.

figma-traffic-1024x237

Below you can see the increase in brand awareness by the search volume trend in Google for the keyword “Figma”. While relative to its own position, from June 2021 to June of 2023, Figma has seen a 355% increase in awareness and demand.

figma-trend-1024x261

2. Adobe Firefly, XD & Illustrator:

We would be remiss to not include the vast world of adobe when talking about design tools. And Adobe has certainly not missed the AI train. With several products fulfilling different needs and niches, Adobe has cast a wide net helping many different audiences. The catch, you’ll pay quite the penny to get all the features from all the products. Adobe Firefly is an AI design tool that can generate images from text. It is still in beta, which means you may have to get on a wait list and be a subscriber to other Adobe tools to get a chance to test it out.

Adobe XD is a vector-based design tool that supports designing and prototyping experiences for websites, mobile apps, and more. It integrates with Adobe’s Sensei AI technology to assist designers with content-aware layout suggestions and other AI-powered features.

Adobe XD has gained prominence as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, and by September 2021, it had over 3 million users. Adobe’s reputation and continuous updates have attracted designers to use XD as their go-to design and prototyping tool.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor that is widely used in various design fields. Although it’s not an AI-specific tool, Adobe has been incorporating AI features into its Creative Cloud suite, which includes Illustrator.

Check out the increased organic performance for Adobe over the last 7 years with the amount of organic search keywords they’ve captured. They’ve seen a 32% YoY increase with an 80% increase in 2 years and a whopping 886% increase 7 years.

adobe-traffic-1024x240

Interestingly enough, despite the increased performance with their site, the volume of people searching adobe in general has tapered in recent years as seen by the trendline below representing users searching for “adobe” in Google. This could be due to the generic parent brand vs each individual product that they offer which was not taken into consideration.

adobe-xd-trend-1024x285

3. Sketch:

Sketch is a macOS-based design tool popular among UI/UX designers. While it doesn’t have native AI capabilities, it can be enhanced with various plugins that incorporate AI functionalities.

As of September 2021, Sketch had a strong presence in the macOS-based design tool market, with over 1.5 million active users. It remains one of the top choices for UI/UX designers who value its performance and ease of use.

See the organic performance trend of the last 5 years below. Sketch has seen a 7% growth in organic presence year over year and a 49% increase in 2 years.

sketch-traffic-1024x242

Despite its popularity, Sketch has seen a rather consistent decline in trend for overall volume of searches for its primary branded keyword “sketch” (segmented by the company name vs the word itself).

sketch-trend-1024x300

4. Axure RP

Axure RP is a prototyping and wireframing tool that allows designers to create interactive prototypes for websites and applications. It may not have native AI features, but it can be integrated with external AI tools.

Below you can see Axure RP has seen some volatility over the last 5 years performing quite a bit lower in the organic search results of Google than it has. While it is currently trending positively, it has some ground to make up for. Axure saw a 3% drop year over year and a 29% drop from 2 years prior.

axure-traffic-1024x261

The trend of search volume tells a similar story with the primary branded keyword “axure rp” seeing a negative trend through the last couple years.

axure-rp-trend-1024x285

5. Marq:

Marq is an innovative design tool that has been gaining significant traction in the design industry. Leveraging cutting-edge artificial intelligence capabilities, Marq aims to revolutionize the way designers conceptualize, create, and iterate on their projects. In this section, we explore some key statistics and emerging trends that highlight the impact of Marq in the design landscape.

Marq has seen a remarkable surge in user adoption. Within just six months, Marq’s user base has grown to over one million active users, making it one of the fastest-growing AI design tools on the market. Designers from diverse backgrounds, including UI/UX designers, graphic artists, and marketers, have embraced Marq for its intuitive AI-driven features.

While Marq has undergone a relatively recent rebrand to an entirely new domain, they’ve retained much of their previous organic performance, and have since increased their brand presence in the market as seen by the short period of time available in the trendline below.

While it’s not an apples to apples comparison as there’s a bit of a ramp up period to anticipate with a new brand going live, Marq boasts a 6062% increase YoY. Let’s factor in the ramp up taking a full month’s worth of data and comparing it to the next closest month this year, Marq still shows a 73% increase year over year.

marq-traffic-1024x258

It’s clear from the volume of their branded keyword “marq” in Google trends, that Marq still has opportunity to grow, but is certainly trending positively in the last several years despite the rapidly changing industry, AI, and the market pitfalls with the worldwide pandemic and other recent anomalies.

marq-trend-1024x387

6. Framer:

Framer is a design tool that enables designers to create interactive and animated prototypes. It also offers integrations with AI-powered tools to enhance the design process.

Framer, known for its powerful prototyping capabilities, had gained traction among designers and had over a million users by September 2021.

Note the cumulative funding raised over the last 5 years, with 267% increase from 2017 to 2018 and an additional growth of 81% from Q1 to Q3 of 2023.

framer-financials-768x301

Below you can see that despite a considerable setback of website performance, Framer has regained and continues to thrive in the acquisition of new awareness through the keywords obtained for organic search. From their low point to their current high (1 year of time) they’re up 621%. Looking at the year prior before the set back, Framer is seeing a 98% increase from 2 years ago.

framer-trend-1024x274

7. InVision:

InVision is a digital product design platform that allows teams to collaborate on design, prototyping, and user testing. It integrates with various AI plugins and external AI tools to facilitate the design process.

InVision has been a dominant player in the digital product design platform market, boasting over 7 million users as of September 2021. See the growth and anticipated growth manifest in the cumulative funding that they’ve raised over the last 10 years. Certainly a consistently healthy and robust measured effort trending positively. According to crunchbase their fundraising was up 48% year over year from 2017 to 2018 and has sustained through the years.

invision-financials-768x294

InVision’s website, however, can’t say the same. While organic presence in Google is not a primary indication of a business’ health, it can be an indicator of spending money in the right place, being aware of important aspects like digital presence, and potentially other factors like overall industry interest. Year over year, InVision has seen a 26% drop in organic presence, and 52% down from 2 years prior.

invision-traffic-1024x256

The volume trend in Google trends corroborates the trend of site performance. While the site’s ability to rank and put out the right content to meet its audience appropriately is one side of the coin, the other is the awareness and demand for a brand which can be seen through the volume of searches. InVision (company segment) has seen a consistent decrease over the last 5 years.

invision-trend-1024x282

8. Proto.io:

Proto.io is a prototyping tool used for creating interactive prototypes for web and mobile applications. While it doesn’t have built-in AI capabilities, it can be combined with external AI tools.

Proto.io joins the group of companies and AI design tools that did not fare well through the storms of the pandemic. They are down 15% year over year for 2023, 49% from 2 years prior and even more from the year before.

proto-traffic-1024x252

The google trend graph below is one typically seen by companies or keywords with considerably low volume. The volatility and difficult to see trend line is due to the low volume of total searches for the brand. Unfortunately for Proto.io, with the little volume that is there, the trend is clearly negative.

proto-trend-1024x295

9. Midjourney:

Midjourney has certainly found popularity among many online groups utilizing the platform discord to interact with it. It has acquired quite the reputation for being the leader in the image generation space with considerable enhancements in its abilities in a short amount of time. However, the tool can be difficult to reign in identifying the right prompt and ultimately getting an image out of it that is more than just fun to see.

Midjourney is a nonprofit organization that has clearly come out of nowhere and not only entered the scene but is leading it when it comes to AI image generation. There isn’t yet a full year of data to compare to, and any month compared to the prior is a considerable increase.

midjourney-semrush-1024x235

It’s clear from Google trends that while Midjourney saw some quick wins in the AI design space, it’s experiencing some trouble with the frustrations to use their product for anything meaningful. This illustrates a primary separation between design tools using AI to enhance an already valuable product to individuals and businesses and those that are banking on a potentially quick and fleeting model that will require far more iteration before becoming valuable on their own.

midjourney-trend-1024x266

10. Canva:

Canva is a user-friendly graphic design tool that offers AI-powered features like automatic design resizing and layout suggestions.

Canva had over 60 million active users globally by September 2021, indicating its widespread appeal among non-professional designers and small businesses.

Canva has clearly seen success in the past few years despite the hard times that other tools and companies have seen. Check out the fundraising trend below. It illustrates not only consistent growth and progress, but a considerable jump to double the funding from Q1 to Q2 of 2021. This not only illustrates Canva’s growth but their anticipation to continue to grow.

canva-financials-768x286

Canva’s site performance is another voice in the positive story of the path that they’re on. As seen in the image below, the site’s organic performance reiterates not only consistent growth, but an increase in pace over the last 2 years. Good signs of product meeting users where they are, understanding their needs and fulfilling them. Also a positive indication of spending money in the right places to fuel their momentum. Canva is up 65% in organic presence year over year, and up 106% from 2 years prior.

canva-traffic-1024x247

Google trends show some ups and downs consistent with releasing new features and possibly other PR efforts. Despite some fluctuations in volume the trend is overwhelmingly positive and adds its voice to the strength of their growth and progress.

canva-trends-1024x283

11. DreamStudio:

DreamStudio is another prompt based, text-to-image AI image generation tool focussed on minimizing the energy required to generate their images. While the output may not initially seem as robust as some of it’s competitors, DreamStudio boasts an iterable version of images making it easy to edit and upscale.

DreamStudio is rather new to the seen as made apparent to their trended organic presence below. It would appear that while they saw considerable initial success, they’ve hit massive headwinds that could be indicative of getting some items out of priority.

dream-studio-keywords-1024x252

The volume of searches around their brand was a little difficult as it appears that Google hasn’t yet identified a segment for their brand name that is separate from the generic search term. However, looking at the shape of the volume over the last year, it appears to correlate with the initial release and the drop in interest.

dream-studio-trend-1024x289

12. CoreIDRAW:

CorelDRAW is another vector graphics editor that focusses on illustration, layout, photo editing, and typography tools. They offers various design that including some AI-assisted functionalities.

While CoreIDRAW has been around for a while, they’ve managed to continue to grow their online presence and continue to provide content and features that meet the needs for a select user base which is apparent from their ranking and keyword acquisition of their website. CoreIDRAW shows a 6% increase year over year in organic presence, and 3% drop from 2 years prior.

coreldraw-traffic-1024x244

While not explicitly negative, it’s clear that the volume trend indicating awareness and demand has seen a negative trend through 2021 and then some increased volume that has slowly trended negatively since. Despite this, it would seem that CoreIDRAW continues to thrive in the AI design tool space.

coreldraw-trend-1024x306

13. TopazLabs:

TopazLabs is a design tool that uses AI for image editing. Primarily to enhance the quality of images and videos with some pretty impressive results.

TopazLabs has seen some ups and down over the years, but is currently thriving and positively trending with their audiences providing the right kinds of content to be promoted in the search engine results pages and driving valuable traffic to their site. They grew 87% in organic presence year over year.

topaz-keywords-1024x254

Google trends shows a very positive trend corroborating the story of their site’s positive performance. It’s clear that the volume of those aware and searching for the brand has bee on a steady increase.

topaz-trends-1024x272

14. Uizard:

Uizard is an AI design tool that can be used to create some pretty robust products like web applications, mobile apps, as well as desktop software with a pretty easy-to-use editor.

It’s clear from Uizard’s funding raised over the last 5 years, that they’re continuing to grow and anticipate further growth. They’re showing a massive 417% increase from quarter to quarter in 2021.

uizard-financials

It appears that Uizard has been around for a few years, and while progressing, it hasn’t really taken off until 2023 where it’s seen considerable growth. Uizard is up 327% year over year in organic presence!

uizard-traffic-1024x245

Google trends corroborates the story with minimal search volume seen since 2018, and then in 2023 it appears consistently and trending positively. Whether this is due to some good marketing and well spent PR funds, increased functionality and features or some combination of both, it’s clear that Uizard is making its way into the space and generating some pretty big waves.

uizard-trend-1024x287

15. Autodraw:

Autodraw is the last product we’ll include in today’s list of AI Design Tools trends and statistics. While small, Autodraw has been around for a handful of years and is one of the few to start before the AI boom. Providing value early on, AutoDrawl allows users to illustrate to their heart’s content, and the tool will use machine learning to take a guess at the illustration and then provide a closely related professional version to be used.

From the graph below, it’s clear that Autodraw has been through some ups and downs since its inception. While Autodraw shows a 28% decrease in organic presence year over year, it’s able to boast a 140% increase from 2 years prior which is still a positive trend for the lifespan of the company.

autodraw-keywords

The volume illustrated in Google trends reflects roughly the same story, with a recent drop in interest through the last couple of months.

autodraw-trend-1024x261

Growth in AI-Integrated Design Platforms

Major design software companies have recognized the potential of AI in design and are rapidly integrating AI capabilities into their platforms. The inclusion of AI-powered plugins, features, and modules has transformed traditional design software into intelligent ecosystems that support designers in their quest for excellence. Notable players in the industry report a considerable increase in user adoption of AI-integrated tools.

Data Security and Privacy Concerns

As AI design tools rely on vast amounts of data for analysis and decision-making, data security and privacy concerns arise. Designers and organizations need to address these issues diligently, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations and safeguarding sensitive design assets. An informed approach to data handling is crucial to ensure trust and confidence in AI design tools.

Bridging the Gap Between Designers and Developers

AI design tools are bridging the gap between designers and developers, fostering better collaboration and communication between the two disciplines. AI-powered design platforms facilitate smoother handoffs by generating design specifications and assets that developers can readily work with. This alignment leads to more efficient development cycles and reduces friction in the design-to-development process.

Conclusion

The advent of AI design tools has ushered in a new era of creativity and efficiency in the design industry. As AI technology continues to advance, designers can expect even more sophisticated tools that amplify their capabilities and enhance the overall design process. By embracing data-driven insights and combining them with their creative vision, designers can harness the full potential of AI design tools to shape the future of visual communication and user experiences. As we move forward, the harmonious collaboration between human ingenuity and artificial intelligence will continue to redefine the boundaries of design innovation.

AI Design Tool Statistics FAQs

What are AI design tools, and how do they differ from traditional design software?

AI design tools refer to a new generation of design software that incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. Unlike traditional design software, AI design tools can automate repetitive tasks, offer intelligent design suggestions, and analyze user data to enhance the user experience. These tools empower designers with data-driven insights, enabling them to create more personalized and efficient designs.

How can AI design tools improve design efficiency and productivity?

AI design tools improve design efficiency and productivity by automating time-consuming tasks, such as generating design variants, creating layout suggestions, and automating design handoffs to developers. By leveraging AI-powered features, designers can focus on the creative aspects of their work, leading to faster design iterations and better overall productivity.

What statistics support the growing adoption of AI design tools in the industry?

According to market research, the global AI in design tools market has witnessed significant growth in recent years. Several leading AI design tools have amassed millions of users, indicating their popularity and widespread adoption in the design community. Surveys also reveal that a substantial percentage of design professionals report increased design efficiency and improved user experiences through AI-powered design solutions.

How does AI enable designers to create more personalized user experiences?

AI enables designers to create more personalized user experiences by analyzing user data and behavioral patterns. Designers can use AI-driven insights to understand user preferences, optimize content layouts, and offer personalized recommendations. By tailoring designs to individual users, designers can deliver more engaging and relevant experiences, ultimately leading to higher user satisfaction and loyalty.

In most organizations, the disconnect between brand and the rest of the organization is real. 

On the one hand, brand and creative teams are constantly bombarded with requests, trying to fulfill as many as possible with limited time and resources. Most requests come with unrealistic turnaround times, leaving creative teams in a tough place to deliver. 

And on the other hand, creative teams sometimes evolve into the “brand police,” which can make a brand feel “off limits” to other orgs. Doing so limits cross-functional creativity, introduces creative bottlenecks, and creates a negative dynamic between brand and other teams.

The result? Creative teams feel like short-order cooks feeding the never-ending content beast, and customer-facing teams start creating rogue content when marketing can’t fulfill their one-off requests.

That’s why modern organizations need a brand enablement solution that puts the power of your brand in the hands of your employees without sacrificing the most critical elements of your brand.

What Is Brand Enablement?

Brand enablement is the strategic process of equipping teams across your organization with the content, guidelines, and tools they need to promote your brand effectively.

It’s much more than a brand guide; it’s the process of empowering your people to promote your brand across the channels they’re in every day. 

Modern brand enablement solutions help your people promote your brand by:

Organizations with Brand Enablement vs. Without

To compete in today’s fast-moving market, teams need a way to produce highly-personalized content for their customers at any given moment. For most businesses, content is the key to convincing potential buyers that you’re the right business for the job.

But without a brand enablement solution, it can be easy to overload creative teams with an endless queue of content requests.

Let’s look at how brand enablement can unleash your brand’s potential while saving your organization time and money.

home page icons_brand consistency 1 Brand Enablement Drives Business Growth

By equipping your teams with proven brand enablement tools, you’re making it easy for every existing and potential customer to have a meaningful interaction with your brand.

With easy access to lockable brand templates, your teams can deliver personalized content to potential customers faster than ever. This unique approach takes the burden of small content requests off of design teams and gives customer-facing teams the tools they need to win business.

home page icons_brand consistency 1Brand Enablement Speeds Up Content Creation

When potential customers come to you, they want to know instantly how your product or services can solve their problems. 

They don’t want generic content; they want content that’s tailored to their needs.

With a brand enablement solution, team members can choose an approved template, customize it, and send it to a customer. This process shortens turnaround times, guarantees brand consistency, and removes tedious requests from the creative backlog. 

home page icons_brand consistency 1Brand Enablement Improves Brand Reputation

Opening up content creation to everyone doesn’t mean content chaos. It means you’re empowering your people to promote your brand the right way.

With lockable templates, team members can personalize and deliver fresh content that’s always compliant with your brand standards.

Creative teams have complete visibility into the content being created, and customer-facing teams feel empowered with a way to create on-brand content.

WithorWithout-1024x576
Organizations with brand enablement vs. without


How to Implement Brand Enablement

Whether implementing brand enablement from the ground up or refining a system already in place, you’ll want to take inventory of your current brand assets and creative processes. Doing so will help you identify gaps to build a more holistic brand enablement plan.

Here are six steps we recommend you take when getting started with brand enablement:

Step 1: Create a culture of alignment 

How well do your brand and creative teams collaborate with other departments?

Without a solid brand enablement process in place, your answer might be: “Not that well.” And that’s okay.

Your first goal is to build cross-functional relationships across the company to ensure everyone is aligned with your brand enablement vision. 

Step 2: Determine the content goals of other departments

For brand enablement to work, you need to equip your teams with the content types they need to be successful. Take the time to identify cross-functional partners’ content needs and goals and build them into your content production plans.

Step 3: Establish clear brand guidelines

When it comes to branding, consistency is everything. Whether you have a brand style guide or a brand enablement platform like Marq, make sure you have a source of truth that outlines everything that matters to your brand, from typography and color to logos and imagery.

Step 4: Choose the right technology to facilitate content creation

Multiple file types across hundreds of programs create a mess of content only usable by the original content creator. You need shared technology that won’t break the bank, ensures brand consistency, enables users to self-serve their content needs, and empowers everyone to personalize and share content easily.  

Step 5: Implement a process for approvals and check-ins

Brand control doesn’t stop with brand enablement. Instead, it should be easier to get content out the door, and content approvals should work for you, not against you. Align on a process that works for your cross-functional teams and brand protectors.

Step 6: Establish performance metrics and implement feedback loops

Your content is only effective if it drives results. Decide what metrics you will use universally to measure performance and create feedback loops so your team is always looking at the data to drive better content decisions.

6-steps@4x-1024x387

How Marq Makes Brand Enablement Easy

Not all brand enablement tools are built the same, but the best, most comprehensive brand enablement platforms will empower your teams to create stellar on-brand content that drives growth for your business.

With Marq’s ability to convert all of your designs into reusable branded templates, everyone in your org can create and share on-brand content. 

Here’s how Marq works:

how_it_works-01-1024x576

01 Design Anywhere

Creative teams can import existing design files from any platform or create designs locally in the Marq editor. 

Why organizations love this

02 Templatize Anything

With Marq, you can turn any design into a template by locking critical brand elements like fonts, logos, and colors.

Why organizations love this

03 Personalize Everything

Share brand templates across your organization so teams can customize content for their unique audiences.

Why organizations love this

04 Share Everywhere

Teams can immediately publish content without having to leave the Marq platform. Quickly post any project to social media, send it to print, or embed it in an email.

Why organizations love this

Imagine the content output and level of personalization when you put brand enablement to work for your organization.

brand-templates@4x-1024x520


Upgrade your brand management strategy to a brand enablement strategy today. You can schedule a demo here.

Brand Enablement FAQs

What is Brand Enablement, and how does it differ from Branding?

Brand Enablement is a strategic approach that goes beyond traditional branding. While branding focuses on creating a brand identity and recognition, Brand Enablement takes it a step further by empowering brands to thrive in the modern marketplace. It involves providing brands with the necessary tools, technologies, and resources to enhance their presence, engage their target audience, and adapt to evolving market trends. Essentially, Brand Enablement enables businesses to translate their brand vision into tangible, sustainable success.

How can Brand Enablement benefit my business?

Brand Enablement offers numerous benefits for businesses seeking to establish a strong market position. By investing in Brand Enablement, your business can:
Drive Customer Engagement: It helps you create compelling brand experiences that resonate with your target audience, increasing customer loyalty and advocacy.
Competitive Advantage: Brand Enablement allows you to differentiate your brand, making it more memorable and recognizable in a crowded marketplace.
Adaptability and Innovation: With the right tools and technologies, Brand Enablement empowers your brand to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and embrace innovative strategies.
Brand Consistency: It ensures consistency across all brand touchpoints, including online and offline channels, fostering trust and credibility among customers.
Employee Alignment: Brand Enablement aligns your employees with the brand vision, fostering a sense of purpose and enhancing overall productivity.

In this episode of Group Therapy, Katie Krongard, Associate Creative Director at Marq, sits down with Brett Barlow, CEO of Everee and former Chief Brand Officer at Pluralsight. They discuss why creatives need to build stronger partnerships with cross-functional teams by investing time into sharing brand initiatives internally while learning how to support their entire organization better.

They also talk about how to build strong brand and marketing teams focusing on start-ups and the characteristics that make brands stand-out against the competition.

This is the fifth installment of Group Therapy, a content series hosted by Marq- the brand enablement platform empowers everyone within an organization to build and deliver branded content to their audience.

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.

In this chat with Adam Gunn, SVP of Brand at Pluralsight, and Cole Parker, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Marq, they discuss the dreaded “C” word… change. Adam shares his thoughts about how brand teams can stay ahead of the curve when businesses are always changing their strategy along with some other nuggets on brand consistency and collaborating with cross-functional teams.

This is the third episode in the Group Therapy series hosted by Marq. Conversations with creative and marketing leaders about all things brand.

Creativity is a necessary component of any successful branding effort, but it is too often regarded as an elusive and intangible quality that is difficult to quantify and manage. But you don’t have to buy into the myth of the solitary genius working in mysterious ways. You can map and analyze creative processes to identify areas for improvement and optimize them for increased efficiency, productivity, and consistency.

This article will explore the benefits of creative process mapping and provide you with the key steps for efficiently leveraging this technique. You will learn: 

Whether you are a seasoned creative professional or just starting out, creative process mapping can help you work smarter and faster. So, let’s dive in and discover how it can help you unleash your full potential.

What Is Creative Process Mapping?

Creative process mapping involves identifying, documenting and analyzing the steps that enable professionals to produce successful outcomes. It means looking at every part of the workflow, figuring out the deliverables for each aspect, and documenting the findings in detail so that anyone can use them as a successful guide.

The creative process can be complicated and often includes many different steps, such as brainstorming, research, prototyping, and testing. By making a map of these processes, you can find bottlenecks or inefficiencies and make changes to improve the process as a whole. 

Additionally, creative process mapping can help you identify areas where creative automation can be applied, allowing you to streamline workflows and reduce the time and effort required to complete tasks.

Why Map Your Creative Processes

As a professional, you’re always looking for ways to improve your skills, streamline your work, and get more done. Mapping your creative processes can help you achieve these goals.

Increased Creative Productivity

Creative process mapping can increase creative productivity in several ways:

Creative Automation

Creative automation is the automating of repetitive and time-consuming tasks in the creative process, such as image editing, video rendering, data analysis, and content creation and distribution.

By making a map of the entire creative process, you can learn more about your workflows and figure out which tasks can be done automatically. Automation can help you get more done in less time and with less effort, so you can focus on the important and creative tasks.

Brand Consistency

Creative process mapping helps identify key elements of a brand, such as tone, style, and messaging. Once these are documented, brands can establish clear and consistent process guidelines, which will help eliminate inconsistencies in branding and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal. 

Faster Employee Onboarding

Mapping your creative process is a powerful way to help employees and contractors get up to speed faster. Documented processes provide clarity, which empowers new hires. Having a detailed guide increases their transition into a new role while helping them gain familiarity with creative systems and processes more quickly than if they were left to their own devices. 

The 5 Steps of Creative Process Mapping

Now that you’ve learned why to map creative processes, let’s look at how to implement it for your business, your creative team, or yourself. 

1. Identify Processes and Workflows

The first step is to identify the central processes and workflows that contribute to your creative team’s outputs. What do you and your team members do to achieve the successful delivery of these outputs? One effective method is to start at the end and work your way backwards. 

For example, your team is working on a marketing campaign for a new product launch. The outputs include creative copy, a website landing page, product images, social media posts, and so on. What are all the major steps that the team does as it works towards achieving these deliverables? 

At this stage, you want to identify processes and workflows, not every little task that adds up to a workflow. It’s better to avoid zooming in too closely, too quickly—you’re looking for the main paths through the forest, not every twist and turn you take along the way. 

2. Delineate Activities and Outcomes

Once you’ve found the processes and workflows, break them down into smaller workflows, tasks, and activities. Think about the specific tasks that need to be done at each stage of the workflow in order to move the project forward. 

As you break processes down into these small sections, consider each task’s input, dependencies, activities, and outputs. Dependencies are particularly important here: What needs to be done before this task can be completed? Dependencies connect tasks into workflows, and if a dependency isn’t met, it can cause delays and reduce productivity. 

You may also want to catalog the tools used and the expected timeframe for each task.

3. Document Processes

Documentation is key to making sure that everyone on the creative team knows what is expected of them and is working toward the same goal. There are many ways to document processes: text documents, Gantt charts, flow charts, or timelines.

Whichever method you use to create process maps, make sure they are complete, detailed, and correct. These documents are the basis for future optimization, so you want them to be as thorough as possible. 

4. Identify Creative Automation Opportunities

Creative teams can access a vast array of automation tools, should they choose to use them. These range from user-friendly platforms like Zapier and Marq’s brand template and creative automation solutions to complex AI-powered content generation tools like ChatGPT or Jasper. 

5. Analyze & Optimize Creative Processes

You now have all the information you need to optimize tasks and processes. Process optimization is an art and a science, and the details differ between teams and organizations. But you should always: 

Creative Process Mapping for Happier, More Productive Teams

Creative process mapping is a powerful tool for anyone looking to enhance their creative routine. By documenting and analyzing the steps involved in the creative process, individuals and organizations can gain a better understanding of their workflows, identify areas for improvement, and optimize their processes for increased efficiency, productivity, and consistency.

Marq’s innovative brand templating platform can help your team optimize creative processes and build consistent brand experiences at scale. To find out more, request a free demo with a brand templating expert.

As a creative marketing professional, you know how complicated and time-consuming creating and managing dozens of pieces of marketing content can be—especially when each one has custom details, brand design, and language standards, and often compliance requirements that must be implemented correctly. Making mistakes can hurt your client’s brand, not to mention your career.

Templates are your compass in a sea of chaos. Templating helps creative professionals maintain brand consistency and adhere to brand guidelines while reducing the time it takes to produce high-quality marketing content. Even better, smart templates empower you to automate parts of the creative process.

In this article, we’ll explore how templates can save you time and the role they play in creative automation. You’ll learn how to:

What Is Creative Automation?

Content automation uses data and software to automate the creation, management, and distribution of marketing materials. This allows you to save time and resources while creating high-quality, professional-looking content that engages your audience.

Templates play a key role in creative automation. They allow you to create a document’s structure and design in advance before swapping in data, text, and design elements appropriate to each client, campaign, or location. For example, creative automation with templates makes it easy to create flyers customized for different locations or custom proposals with consistent branding. 

Content automation with templates is a game changer for creatives looking to streamline workflows. Benefits include:

Whether you’re working on brochures, presentations, or any other marketing materials, content automation is a powerful tool that can help you create effective content in less time.

Creative Automation With Templates

Let’s look at six ways templating and creative automation can increase your efficiency and productivity. 

1. Branding and Content Design

Let’s say you’ve been asked to design a set of posters to promote a series of conferences. The design has to adhere to brand guidelines, but the brief asks you to create a unique graphic for each location with images of local landmarks.

Tackling the poster designs one at a time would be time-consuming, but with templates, you can easily mock up the base design using the brand’s colors, fonts, text styles, logo, and so on. Then, you can focus on designing the local graphics for each poster, creating posters based on the template, and dropping the unique element into each one.

Marq’s content design solution and templating system make this process straightforward. You can import existing InDesign files, images, and other brand assets. Then you can create a project, design the poster, and leave placeholders for custom images and text. From there, it’s straightforward to make and edit the posters for each location. 

2. Collaborative Content Creation

Suppose you’ve also been asked to design a brochure to advertise the conferences. As with the posters, each brochure should include images and copy tailored to individual cities. You can’t design all the brochures and write all the copy yourself, so you decide to ask the designers and copywriters on your team for help.

However, the basic design has to comply with brand guidelines, and it has to be consistent—you can’t let your colleagues move logos around or modify the page layout. 

Templates make collaboration within guidelines much easier. You make the design template with individual page templates and the client’s layouts, colors, and fonts. If you want, you can also lock these elements so they can’t be changed. Your colleagues are then free to get creative within the constraints you’ve provided. 

3. Updating Multiple Documents

As often happens, the client might like the brochures, but have notes, such as: They’d like to include updated venue capacities in each one. That could be a real headache for you. However, if you set up your templates with custom smart fields, you can import the new data and have it automatically applied to all the brochures based on that template. 

4. Content Standardization and Compliance

Creative professionals often find themselves working on projects with strict content guidelines and sometimes legal constraints. For example, certain types of content are legally required to include warnings and mandatory customer information. 

Templates offer confidence that your team is working within the rules. Simply include the necessary content in your template, create a content-level lock, and no one working on the project can make unauthorized changes. 

5. Data Automation

Let’s say your client asked you to create posters for their conferences and they sent a Google Sheets spreadsheet with a preliminary list of venues. Then the venue list changed during the planning process, so now you have to update a bunch of poster designs with new addresses. Anyone who has worked as a marketing designer is familiar with the laborious process of copying information from spreadsheets and pasting it into marketing content, and then doing it yet again when the information changes. 

Data automation—a subset of creative automation—makes the process almost effortless. Instead of hardcoding conference venue addresses into each poster, a modern templating platform like Marq allows you to connect a data source, like your Google Sheet, and then autofill smart fields in your project from the sheet. The clever part is that when the information in the data source changes, the data in the smart fields updates automatically. No more copy and paste. 

6. Calculation Automation

Smart fields are great, but we’ve yet to mention one of the best template features: formulas and functions. In addition to importing data sources, you can include spreadsheet-like formulas within text boxes, shapes, and table cells.

Formulas are incredibly flexible creative automation tools, but, to take a simple example, you could use them to automatically calculate the price of conference tickets in the brochures. Let’s say the base ticket prices for each location are listed in a Google Sheet, but attendees can pay extra for training sessions, VIP networking events, concierge services, and so on. 

With the clever use of formulas, you could create a price matrix that automatically calculates conference package prices from the data the client supplies. 

How Do I Make Brand Templates?

As you can see, creative automation with templates is exceptionally powerful. It has the potential to save you and your team a huge amount of time. All the features we’ve mentioned here, and many more, are available now on the Marq brand template platform. If you’d like to put Marq through its paces and see what we can do for you, schedule a demo with a templating expert today.

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.

In this dynamite episode of our new content series, Group Therapy, Trenton Romph, Head of Marketing at Clozd shares some of the key things companies are missing when they don’t take the time to talk to their buyers. In the world of win loss analysis, Trenton has some incredible pieces of advice to understand marketing effectiveness, content effectiveness, and who/what to look to as the real source of truth on all of it. 

This is the second episode in the Group Therapy series hosted by Marq. Conversations with creative and marketing leaders about all things brand.

Jeremy Wold, Head of Marketing at Awardco, and Katie Krongard, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Marq, discuss brand strategy shifts during and post-pandemic, work culture, and how to achieve cross-functional collaboration from marketing strategy to execution.

Jeremy shares that you should never sacrifice strategy for speed.

Marketing collaboration starts with communication and empathy. Great collaboration also brings data to the conversation to ensure cross-functional alignment on what is working, what isn’t, and builds trust with partners across your organization.

This is the first episode in the Group Therapy series hosted by Marq. Conversations with creative and marketing leaders about all things brand.

When you’re taking the first steps to build your brand, it can feel like a whole world of possibilities is at your fingertips. At the same time, trying to carve out a unique identity and space for your company can feel overwhelming. Trying to maintain consistency within your brand identity, stylistic choices, and big-picture vision is a tough ask – especially when you’re working with a variety of different (and often siloed) departments.

This is where a brand style guide can help take the burden off weary CMOs and their teams. Once you know how to build a brand style guide, scaling up your content strategy becomes so much easier. 

In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more:

The sooner you learn how to build a brand style guide that fits your unique vision and voice, the sooner you can empower your teams to create great content – so let’s dive in!

What is a brand style guide?

Every brand style guide looks different, but they all have the same purpose: to help keep your branding consistent. It’s a master document that includes everything that makes your brand unique, from your visual and stylistic identity, to your company vision and mission statement. 

Elements you can expect to find in one include your logo, font types, color palette, tone of voice, photography, and much more. What you choose to include in your brand style guide ultimately comes down to what kind of product or service you offer, and what kind of content you want to put out there. 

Having a clear and easy-to-reference guide makes your brand more accessible, which means anyone in your company can create on-brand content. And the more consistent your branding is, the more recognizable you become to your audience, no matter where they might find you.  

One question you might be wondering: What is the difference between a brand book and a style guide? We’re so glad you asked! 

These aren’t meant to be strict guidelines though – feel free to incorporate any elements into your brand style guide that feel right. 

4 benefits of having a brand style guide

While it’s certainly possible to go about building a brand without a set style guide, we don’t recommend it. Why? Because without a style guide, you’re effectively putting a blindfold on your creative team. Without set standards and rules, you lose consistency and accountability.

Here are just a few key benefits a clear style guide can offer your team:

How to build a brand style guide

If that all sounds good, then it’s time to start crafting your very own brand style guide! To help you get started, we’ll go over 7 of the most essential elements you’ll want to include. While every style guide is different, these are elements every brand needs to successfully grow and scale content.

Establish your brand identity

The first thing you’ll want to include in your style guide is an overview of your brand identity. This is the glue that binds your brand and content together. 

A great place to start is your brand’s mission and vision statements. These not only establish the ‘why’ behind your brand but can be a great asset to reference when it comes to design decisions. 

Your brand identity also includes your logo. While creating a strong logo is another topic altogether, many successful logos have one thing in common: a unique color palette. Colors matter – they influence our subconscious and evoke emotion. Choosing the right hues for your logo can help people recognize it easily on any platform. 

Define your brand’s voice and tone

If your brand was a person, how would they communicate? Would they lean heavy on the emojis and humor, or would they be more refined and elegant? Finding a clear tone of voice for your company ensures that everything your audience encounters – from customer service emails to social media posts – are consistently on-brand.

It’s important to make sure this voice is aligned with the type of relationship you want to have with your audience. For example, what age range are you trying to appeal to? Thinking about your target audience demographic can help you find a good fit. Brands with successful voices not only effectively communicate their purpose, but also help customers feel seen and heard.

Your brand style guide should not only include high-level recommendations on tone but should outline specific standards for proper spelling and grammar. Guidelines should answer questions like, “is slang acceptable?”, or “can contractions be used?” 

Great logos are adaptable. No matter the color, size, or medium, customers should still be able to recognize it. The key here is consistency in usage. We recommend including guidelines on how people should use your logo. For example, include rules on appropriate sizing and specs for different platforms like email and social media. What color palettes are appropriate? What are the guidelines for black-and-white usage? Ensuring questions like these are answered helps teams uphold the integrity of your brand’s logo, no matter where or how it’s used.

Build a unique color palette 

Like we mentioned earlier, colors matter. Some colors may evoke peacefulness, while others may make you feel excited. Think about the kind of feelings you want your brand to spark, and choose colors that complement that. A successful color scheme helps convey your brand’s identity and messaging, and should be the bridge that connects all of your branding elements together. 

When choosing colors, it’s also important to think about how they’ll work with other design elements like font and imagery. To make it easier to maintain consistency, try to pick hues from each color family. This will help your designers seamlessly reproduce logos and other branding assets across print and digital. Plus, varying your color combos gives design teams more flexibility without having to compromise on brand recognition.

Pick your typography

Typography is an often overlooked aspect of great brand design, and should always be included in a brand style guide. When you’re picking fonts, think about how your choice could influence user experience and consistency. You want your typography to be legible across various sizes and mediums (think digital screen vs print). Fonts should also blend harmoniously with other design elements. Just like logo and color choice, typography conveys subconscious messages about your brand. 

Outlining rules on font usage within your brand style guidelines makes it easy for those messages to resonate loud and clear.

Outline imagery guidelines

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s especially true in branding. Great imagery and graphics help grab people’s attention and tell your brand story. Whether you’re using photography, illustrations, or other visual elements, maintaining consistency in style, theme, and color makes it easy for people to recognize your brand based on imagery alone.

Depending on the type of imagery you use, you might want to set sizing and usage parameters for different platforms or media types. That way, teams can tailor imagery to fit specific mediums while still maintaining consistency.

Set standards for online content

No matter where people encounter your brand, you want them to have a similar experience when they find you. Setting guidelines for online content gives your teams the opportunity to craft consistent, unified experiences across all channels. 

For example, perhaps you’ve set standards on customer service responses, or templates you work off of for blog posts. Wherever you have a digital presence, consider creating guidelines for how your brand should appear and interact with customers. 

At the end of the day, a brand style guide equips everyone in your organization with the tools they need to create content that hits the mark. And at Marq, we help you scale your brand by maximizing your content output. Schedule a demo with us today to see how we can help you create better content, and save time.

“Art for art’s sake” was once a popular motto in the art and literature worlds. Creators wanted to make beautiful and meaningful work; whether anyone saw or appreciated it was a secondary concern. 

In the marketing world, we’re also driven to create, but we have to be aware of our work’s cost and impact and our team’s productivity. Creative key performance indicators (KPIs) help us understand our performance, recognize our successes, and use our resources as effectively as possible. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

How Do You Measure Creative Performance?

Measuring creative performance is all about comparing costs to achievements and finding the information we need to optimize this relationship. Does creative work resolve the problems it sets out to solve? Does it help a brand attain its marketing goals? Just as important, do the results justify the cost? Even if a creative team performs well, could it do better with different incentives, goals and processes? 

To answer these questions, we need data and hard numbers. We need to zoom in on specific aspects of the creative team’s performance, make the measurements that matter and see how they respond over time to initiatives and novel creative work. That’s the role of creative KPIs. 

In this article, we’re focusing on creative team KPIs. To learn more about brand marketing metrics and KPIs, read 10 Brand Metrics to Evaluate Your Brand Marketing Strategy.

What Are Creative KPIs?

Creative team leaders are awash with data, but raw data isn’t helpful. You can slice and dice it a million different ways, but most of it is irrelevant to your team’s performance. KPIs are the metrics and calculations that do matter, the ones that help you to figure out how your creative team is performing, the value of their contributions and the health of creative projects.

10 Creative KPIs You Should Be Focused On

Every creative team is unique, and every creative team leader has particular priorities. However, we’ll look at ten KPIs a creative team leader should focus on to understand the team’s performance. 

1. Project Cost

How much do you spend per project? This is perhaps the most important metric because it provides context for other KPIs. For example, you may have excellent client satisfaction rates, but your business won’t last long if you overspend to achieve positive outcomes. Additionally, measuring project costs over time helps creative leaders understand the impact of process changes on productivity and efficiency. 

To measure project cost, consider all spending associated with a project, including:

It’s often helpful to quantify your team’s time into hourly increments and then measure how many hours each team member spends per project per month. 

2. Project Profit

Put simply, how much are you bringing in relative to how much you spend on each project? It goes without saying that you cannot sustain a situation in which costs outstrip revenues over the long term. If your team spends more than it makes, you may want to reconsider processes, tools, staffing and the promises you make to clients. 

3. Time Spent on Rework

How much time does your team spend redoing work, either because clients are unhappy or because you don’t have processes to prevent duplication? Rework is part and parcel of creative work—client feedback often means you’ll have to make tweaks and modifications. But if your team spends too much time on rework, efficiency hits the floor, costs increase and you fail to make the most of your resources. 

Common causes of rework include:

4. Project Time Estimate Accuracy

How accurate are your project time estimates? The popular cliché says you should figure out how long a project will take and then double it. In reality, team leaders are often under pressure to deliver with short lead times. However, if you consistently underestimate and overpromise, the result will be dissatisfied clients, burned-out team members and poor performance.

To determine the accuracy of your project time estimates, look at how long you say a project will take versus how long it actually takes. Once you understand the relationship between these metrics, you can focus on providing more accurate estimates and improving the team’s efficiency. 

5. Work vs. Capacity

Is your team achieving its expected capacity? This KPI compares what you expect your team to achieve with its actual achievements. One way to measure this is to track the number of hours the team logs compared to their available time. This KPI is useful for several reasons:

6. Lead Time per Project

Lead time measures how long your team takes to deliver on a project. Creative team leaders should measure how many hours or days their team takes to complete a wide variety of content and design projects. Use that information to inform capacity and project time estimates. 

Lead times measurements are also helpful for tracking the impact of efficiency measures; increased efficiency should result in reduced lead times (or higher capacities).

7. Client Satisfaction

Are your clients happy with your team’s work and lead times? It doesn’t matter how efficient and productive you are if the work fails to meet client expectations. Client satisfaction is an overarching KPI that can give you insight into a  potential problem with your team and is typically measured post-project with surveys.  

However, it doesn’t tell you what is wrong (or right) and why. It’s most valuable when used alongside the other KPIs we’ve discussed, which will help you diagnose issues revealed by client satisfaction metrics. 

8. Software Utilization Rates

For our final three, we’ll look at creative KPIs that highlight the impact of thoughtfully designed software on creative team efficiency and productivity. 

Is your creative team using the software tools available to them? Creative software for designers and writers can streamline workflows and increase productivity, including content management systems, content design templates, web and print distribution systems, creative automation platforms, and creative team management software. But they can only achieve their potential if your team takes full advantage of their features. 

If creative team leaders don’t measure software utilization rates, they may not see the full efficiency and productivity gains that software can provide. Once you understand utilization rates, you can begin to assess the reason for low utilization. Perhaps your teams aren’t aware of the software’s benefits. Or perhaps they are insufficiently trained. 

Improving the software onboarding and training process can also move the needle on other KPIs you care about, including project cost, time spent on rework and project lead times. 

9. Content Freshness

Content freshness is one of the biggest challenges faced by creative marketing teams. As brands evolve, their content requirements change, and older content can quickly become outdated. Content freshness plays a vital role in brand consistency, but monitoring content freshness and resolving freshness issues is often difficult, particularly for large branding projects.

Alongside its many other features, Marq Analytics helps creative teams to discover content that needs to be refreshed.

10. Template Adoption

Design templates can be a huge timesaver, helping teams quickly deploy consistent content that meets brand design standards. Sophisticated smart templates can automate content creation workflows and substantially reduce brand asset lead times. 

However, creative team leaders should monitor template adoption usage and ensure that their team makes the most of templating features. 

Use Creative KPIs to Track and Improve Creative Team Performance

We’ve explored ten creative KPIs that empower creative team leaders to measure their team’s performance, discover optimization opportunities and track productivity improvements over time. As management consultant Peter Drucker once said, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure,” so your next step is implementing KPI tracking for your creative team. 

Marq is here to help. Our new Marq Analytics tools can help track the creative KPIs you care about most, including template adoption, content freshness, content approval statuses and much more. Marq Analytics works alongside a comprehensive range of design templates, creative automation and content design features that empower creative teams to streamline and automate creative workflows. 

Schedule a 1:1 with our team to learn how Marq will positively impact the creative KPIs that matter most to your business.

Sometimes, getting back to the basics can re-energize your team and help your organization find alignment across every initiative. As foundational as it may seem, even the savviest of businesses re-visit their brand marketing strategy often to ensure it is serving their products, customers, and long-term goals. In this article, you will learn the basics and then some. 

Whether you are an established business or just starting, your brand strategy is crucial to your growth, product positioning, and messaging.

Without further ado, let’s get into it. 

What is a brand marketing strategy?

A brand marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan to achieve long-term goals that will make your brand identifiable and the preferred choice by your customers. At a foundational level, your brand strategy is the core of why you do what you do and who you do it for. 

What is your product/service? Who is it for? What are its benefits? Why YOU over XYZ competitor? 

A well-thought-through brand strategy should involve teams across your organization to contribute and bring ideas forward from brand equity ideas to product positioning. 1

The brand strategy process requires many intangible elements, making it difficult to measure success. That’s why it’s important to establish a strategy that outlines the steps needed for successful branding (short and long-term), product positioning, and outlined metrics to quantify progress.

Your brand strategy, from content to product development, should aim for attainable growth over time and, when done right, helps everyone in your organization understand the roadmap for the company.

Why do you need it?

Building a brand marketing strategy is essential for any business that wants to be successful. A strong brand strategy allows companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors and create an identity that resonates with their target audience. It also helps them establish customer trust and loyalty, increasing sales and profits.

A well-crafted brand strategy should include elements such as a mission statement, core values, target market, positioning statement, and key messaging. These components will help guide the company’s marketing efforts and ensure that all communications are consistent across all channels. Additionally, having a clear brand strategy in place will make it easier for the company to measure its success and adjust its approach if needed. Ultimately, a solid brand strategy is essential for any business that wants to stand out from the competition and achieve long-term success.

Without a brand strategy…

Without a brand strategy, and clarity on your purpose, vision, mission, and values, you can end up making marketing and business decisions that don’t align with your product or customer’s needs.

Without a unified approach to marketing, you risk losing time and money. Your team may also be divided on the best path forward, which can impact overall morale and energy for initiatives. Your content suffers and can appear to be scattered and sometimes even contradictory. Without a consistent message in your content, it can be hard to attract customers.

We could rattle off the negative outcomes, but the core message here is without a clear brand strategy, you’re likely to fail, even if you have an amazing product/service and team to support it.

So, let’s talk about what you need to drive growth. It is never too late to strip back your marketing efforts, re-establish your core message, and develop a foolproof strategy to help you push forward. 

A comprehensive approach

We’ve established that building a brand strategy is important. You need one, plain and simple. But where do you start? First and foremost, developing a solid brand strategy requires collaboration between teams across the company to ensure that all aspects of the brand are considered. 1

To get started, assess where your brand currently stands. This includes looking at customer feedback, market trends, and competitor analysis. Once you understand where your brand is now, you can begin to make plans for the future. This includes deciding which channels to use to promote your brand, what kind of content you create, and how you measure success.

Long-term goals should also be established when creating a brand strategy. These goals should be ambitious but achievable. They should focus on increasing customer loyalty and engagement with your brand over time. Investing in research and analytics can help identify areas for improvement and provide valuable insights into how customers interact with your brand online.

By building a comprehensive brand strategy, businesses can ensure that their brands remain relevant and competitive marketplace. If you have a brand strategy in place already, conduct a brand audit to identify areas where your strategy can improve to better serve your customers and your brand.

Let’s break it down, step-by-step.

Step-by-step guide

1. Identify your target clients/customers.

Dive deep into who your target audience is and what problems you are trying to help them solve. By identifying these unique sets of customers, you’ll be better able to market to them moving forward.

2. Research your target market.

The process does not stop by simply identifying your target market. You should research your target audience and learn about them in detail. What are their job titles? How do they talk about the solution your product solves? These personalization details will vary by industry, and in this step, you will want to get as specific as possible so you can better tailor your marketing to each group.

3. Research the competitive landscape.

You must know who your competitors are and identify the areas you need to compete in while identifying how you win against them. This should be ongoing but vitally important to understand before establishing your brand messaging strategy. 

4. Develop your brand positioning.

What value does your product/solution bring to your target audience? Your value and the ways in which you benefit your target audience is a crucial element of your brand strategy. It is important to consider the benefits to your customers in the short and long term, clearly identify these, and craft messaging to communicate these effectively.

5. Develop your messaging strategy.

A messaging strategy is the way you will communicate your product/solution to reach your audience. Your messaging strategy should be crafted to shape your audiences’ perception of your brand, product, or service while also building trust and loyalty.

A key element of a successful messaging strategy is for your core messages to be consistent and repeatable across all platforms and channels. Consistency in telling your brand story and consistency in communicating your product/solution to your target audience is vitally important in building brand equity over time. 

You want sales, marketing, customer success, and beyond to be unified in the messages they share with your end customer. To do this, you need to think through your core message and develop clear language that can be easily understood and answers the key questions your audience will have about you. 

What is it? Why should they care about it? How does it benefit them? 

6. Build your pricing and sales strategy.

How will you structure your pricing, and how will you approach selling? Collaborate with your team. You can make a bigger impact when you align your approach, and you will see results sooner. Ground your strategy with research so you can engage in sales conversations confidently, knowing you are priced competitively and fairly.

6. Plan how you will share your brand story.

A brand marketing strategy should include the foundational elements of your product/solution and how you plan to share it. At this point in your strategy development, you should clearly understand who you are communicating with and what messages you plan to share with them. Identifying not just the how in telling your story but who can also set your team up to move with momentum. Who creates your content and can everyone be a brand contributor?

7. Identify your key performance indicators.

Your strategy should include performance markers that you can return to often. These measurements for success will help you adjust your strategy where needed and influence the marketing activities you do to support your brand. These KPIs should include specific measurements that you can follow over time, like organic website traffic, conversions, revenue, etc. Your brand strategy should drive growth for your business, and your performance indicators will help you ensure that you are on the right path. 

Ready to create content and creative assets to support your brand strategy? Learn more about the must-have templates to enable your team to self-serve their content requests. 

The landscape for marketing and brands is constantly evolving, with market shifts that require your teams to operate with agility. The ecosystem for design and creative requests has stayed relatively consistent, resulting in more work for design teams in desperate need of a straightforward way to scale easily. The term “brand template” has been kicked around a bit; we discuss it a lot.  We know it isn’t standard terminology. It’s relatively new, and we are often asked, what is a template?


This article answers the big question: What is a Brand Template? 

You will also learn


It’s time to modernize, and your brand (and organization) will be thanking you for introducing the next best thing since _________. We were going to say sliced bread, but we’ve since developed things like electric vehicles and knives made to cut avocados in perfect slices, so we’ll let you fill in the blanks as you see fit.  

Let’s dive in!

What is a Brand Template?


A brand template is a design file created to brand standards by designers for cross-functional partners to customize for their intended use. Powerpoint and Keynote templates were among the first, allowing organizations to create brand-consistent presentations without importing the design elements and taking liberties with animations or word-art title slides. Jokes aside, the ability to create an audience-ready presentation that represented your brand well was magic. 


The expansion of brand template use across organizations is growing. The social media coordinators no longer need to design their own posts but instead can leverage a pre-designed template from their design team to ensure brand consistency. 

The success of brand template use and the ability for teams to build their own content from a template increases the potential for more template creation. If templates work well when the use case is considered in the design, cross-functional teams can iterate more quickly on projects and initiatives, reducing design time significantly. 

With the use of templates, copy changes are easily made by non-designers, rather than submitting design requests to personalize messages or adjust changes in data on a form. 


What are the benefits of Brand Templates?

Time-saving is certainly one of the more obvious benefits of brand templates for designers and those who typically rely on creative requests to fulfill their project needs. But, beyond time savings, there are so many larger benefits to the organization as a whole. 

A list of key benefits of brand templates:

Let’s discuss each of these benefits in a bit more detail. 

Brand templates ensure brand consistency.

A brand template is a completed design that leaves certain areas of the document to be customized. This means the brand colors, logo placement, character sizing, and length are all input into the brand template. When brand template users customize the template for their intended use, all brand guidelines are already implemented. This leads to brand consistency no matter who is distributing the content and eliminates concerns about whether the brand guidelines are easily interpreted by individuals who are not trained in design.

Brand templates allow you to automate design creation.

There are varying levels of automation, but when most of the design work is completed aside from copy or data customization, the process of creating content is expedited. Some brand template solutions have even more sophisticated automation tools allowing you to input the data rather than manually entering it into the document. Automation with brand templates is a clear benefit and immediately saves your team precious hours on content creation. 

Brand templates can be localized with speed.

Brand templates made available for your team means speed and ease of use. Teams already have what they need when you rely on templates to support them, and they can quickly personalize for their intended audience. This means you can scale content production easily because everyone builds content, not just designers. 

Brand templates support compliance standards.

When you can include compliance-related requirements in your brand templates, you immediately reduce risk for your organization. Legal language or required logos and disclaimers can be built into the brand template, ensuring that the end-user doesn’t make a mistake or forget to include this crucial information in their document.

Brand templates allow for the reallocation of time toward strategic initiatives.

Time savings also means time can be spent on other projects when you use brand templates. Designers will have more time to focus on strategic work because they are not required to make small copy changes or personalize assets for their team. Template users can move on to their initiatives more quickly with the help of templates, giving them time back for strategic work as well. No one is waiting on anyone, and overall, time is treated more valuably when brand templates are leveraged to help meet objectives. 

Examples of Brand Templates

So much of the content and collateral that you use daily can be templatized for your organization. Flyers, brochures, social posts, one-sheets, proposals, business cards, etc. The list is endless. The added benefit of brand templates is you can provide multiple options for each content piece to give your team the power of choice. While all of them would be designed to brand standards, you can provide various layouts and design options, which ensures better template adoption within your organization. 

Below are just a few examples of brand templates so you can think about which assets your business should consider templatizing. 

Social media template

blog_socialtemplate

Employee Report Template

blog_templateex3

Flyer Template

blog_templateex2

Template Library

brandtemplatelibrary

Is Brand Templating Right For Your Brand?

If your organization creates content of any kind, brand templates are likely a great way for you to save your team time and produce quality content more efficiently. The benefits of brand templates are clear and often hang up on implementation is, typically due to resistance to a change in process or concern that no one will use them. We have partnered with hundreds of customers, helping them implement brand template use across their organizations. Our customers are better able to build content quickly and find that their design teams operate more effectively when production design work is offloaded with the help of brand template use. 

If you want to learn how Marq can help you implement a brand template solution at your organization, you can schedule a 1:1 with one of our brand templating experts today. 

Become a creative enabler and powerhouse cross-functional partner that empowers your organization to run quickly, efficiently, and creatively. From foundational brand assets to creative templates everyone can use, we broke down the most common creative assets you should build for your organization.

It’s important to focus on brand strategy templates, assets, and resources your organization can use and capitalize on. With the right toolbox of creative assets, your organization can elevate its visibility and help establish itself as an industry leader.

It’s vital for any business to have reliable, creative assets available to stay competitive in fast-changing markets.

In this article, you will learn:

Build Creative Assets Before They Are Requested

Pre-planning for future creative needs can sometimes feel like a moving target. It can be difficult to predict a future state, and oftentimes, the creative request process becomes the default trigger in planning. While a creative request process has its place and purpose in everyday workflows, marketing, and design teams can equip their organizations with the assets they need to encourage fewer requests and greater ability for cross-functional roles to do it themselves. Organizations should build the most common creative assets before they are requested to ensure they have content ready to go when needed. This can be in the form of a design template and ensuring that foundational design elements like logos are centralized for everyone to access.

This helps provide a more efficient workflow, as having content already in place will save time and effort while providing a blueprint for future projects. A library of assets may enable organizations to leverage ideas or start a project more quickly, which can make your organization more competitive and operate with more agility. 

Often, it can be hard to know where to start. A brand audit can get you well underway, but if you are starting from the ground level, running through the foundational creative assets and then proactively creating the most common creative assets may be a great place to start. 

Foundational Creative Assets to Support Your Brand

Organizations need to create foundational creative assets that serve as a guide for all other content produced. Brand identity guidelines, established by an organization, promote an understanding of how different design elements work together to tell the overarching story of your brand. Those required pieces include logos, fonts, and colors. These foundational assets each play a vital role in telling your brand’s story.

The best place to start is to ensure you have a brand style guide outlining how your brand lives and plays in the world. A style guide is a document created by a company to define its branding strategy and communicate how it is to be applied. It includes details of the brand’s logo, fonts, colors, language style, layout, and other visual guidelines for applying the brand across all media types. A good rule of thumb is to ensure a non-designer can implement your brand’s style guide. 

Elements of a style guide

Logos are key visual marks that symbolize the company’s name and identity; they come in both static and animated formats. A professionally designed logo will transcend color modulation and still be recognizable at any size or background.

Fonts evoke various user feelings and can bring together different goals: building recognition, elevating UX/UI experience, or encouraging user action.

Colors do more than make your website stand out – they inspire emotion, attract attention across all communication channels, and, when done right, can help differentiate your brand in the digital space. It is important for organizations to choose a set of core colors for branding purposes that encompass the full range of uses – online banner ads, product packaging, etc.

If anyone outside your marketing team will be writing copy that represents your brand or company, you want to include language to support how your brand communicates. Brand voice is a key element of your brand, and consistency in voice helps build brand equity over time. 

Typically, it can be helpful to include examples of the kind of photography that your brand uses, icons, or other imagery so there is a comprehensive “how-to” manual for your brand. If you only use black and white photography or if you treat photography with a specific overlay, these kinds of rules should be included in your style guide.

Whether your business is large or small, revisiting these foundational creative assets and ensuring they are serving your brand well and are easily accessible will enable your teams to act on brand initiatives with confidence. 

How to Build Your Template Library

Once your core brand elements are created, reviewed, and shared, you’ll want to look for opportunities to extend your brand assets to facilitate brand enablement across your organization.

Template libraries are an essential part of success for any organization and a crucial step to ensure brand enablement across your organization. From crafting a clear brand messaging strategy to implementing your brand colors on everyday content and collateral, templates help streamline operations to ensure everyone is on the same page. Most organizations create templates around four primary organizational pillars: Sales, Marketing, and People Operations.

Consider this perspective as a departmental segmentation of your brand enablement strategy; each function requires different branded materials to execute its role. Your brand template library should include assets for every person and purpose. 

Sales templates can include lead qualification criteria or product sheets; marketing templates might inform team members how to create and send client emails; people operations could include onboarding checklists.

Once you’ve considered each of these primary roles and functions, it can be helpful to take a deeper look into your creative request queue. Can you employ a template-thinking mindset when processing creative requests? If you did, you could actively build upon your brand template library and further enable your cross-functional partners. 

Consider these questions as you receive creative requests:

No matter what size business you have, a library of creative templates on file for anyone in your cross-functional team can use is a modern approach to brand management that benefits everyone. Your team saves time, and everyone feels empowered to use your brand. Templates also put your brand guidelines into actual content and collateral. Your creative and marketing teams can get them 80% of the way there, and they can finish the final 20%. A template system and brand enablement strategy like this can streamline processes and offer everyone in your organization a consistent look and feel when developing branded collateral.

Most common creative templates that should be part of your central marketing hub:

Key takeaways

Creative templates are like a bridge. They can help unite different departments to connect and share information quickly and effectively. They also translate the sometimes ambiguous brand standards that designers create for their non-designer, cross-functional partners. 

While templates can provide beneficial structure and guidelines, they should also offer autonomy. Effective templates should promote creativity by giving some customizability to ensure each team incorporates elements of the brand into their design. Done correctly, this serves both flexibility and consistency in brand identity across all documents and digital content.

Want to learn more about how Marq can help you lock down your brand, build a template library, and provide an easy-to-use editor for customization all in one centralized location? Schedule a 1:1, or click here to get started. 

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!

What about these words makes them unique: Coca-Cola, Apple, McDonald’s, Gucci, and Ikea? There’s nothing particularly striking about the words themselves. What makes them special is the associations they evoke and how we feel about them. We see a brand name and instantly associate it with colors, logos, flavors, products, reputations, memories, positive (or negative) feelings, and more. That’s the power of branding.

These brands invested time and money to build a unique set of associations in the minds of their market. That investment pays off over a few seconds when a consumer decides to buy a brand’s product instead of a competitor’s. At least, that’s what marketers hope will happen. 

But hope isn’t enough. You need concrete brand metrics to understand how effective your marketing strategies are. Without data, there’s no way of knowing how well a strategy works in the real world. 

In this article, you will learn:

What are Brand Metrics and KPIs?

Brand metrics are quantifiable indicators of a brand’s performance and the effectiveness of brand marketing strategies. Brand metrics are useful because they allow you to evaluate past performance and use that information to course correct or plan future campaigns. You can also use metrics to see how your brand compares to competitors. 

Other uses of brand metrics include:

Metrics start with data. You collect data from various sources and analyze it to extract useful information. It’s worth emphasizing the word “useful” here. Metrics are only useful if they help you to make impactful decisions. It’s easy to become sidetracked by worthless metrics. If that happens, you’ll waste marketing dollars moving a needle that has no impact on brand performance or business revenue. In this article, we’re laser-focused on metrics that most businesses will find useful.

Metrics vs. KPIs

You might wonder whether brand metrics and branding KPIs (key performance indicators) are the same. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t identical. A brand metric is a measurement of brand health. A brand KPI is a metric or combination of metrics used to gauge progress toward critical branding objectives and goals. Whether a metric counts as a KPI depends on what your business is trying to achieve.

For example, imagine your business wants to increase conversion rates on a landing page by 30%. Lots of numbers bear on that goal, including page visitor numbers, bounce rates, time spent on the page, number of conversions, and so on.

None of these are KPIs because they don’t give you enough information to decide whether you achieved the objective. In fact, you might end up focusing on the wrong thing. You could invest in boosting the page traffic metric, but it doesn’t follow that conversion rates will increase too. In fact, they are just as likely to go down! The KPI in this scenario is the conversion rate calculated from visitor numbers and conversion numbers—that’s the number you want to see increasing. 

Let’s explore ten brand health metrics that brands frequently use to determine the effectiveness of their brand marketing strategies. 

1. Brand Awareness

You likely recognize Gucci and the other brands we mentioned at the beginning of this article. Most people worldwide recognize them—that’s why they’re worth billions of dollars. Brand awareness is a measure of the degree to which consumers recognize a brand and the products associated with it. Gucci has certainly set the bar and gained it’s own catchphrase in the process.

Consumers tend to trust familiar brands more, so brand awareness strongly correlates with sales. People buy from familiar brands, provided there are no overriding negative associations. 

A brand that enjoys high brand awareness also has a degree of protection from new competitors. Building brand awareness takes time and money, and that gives established brands a momentum that market entrants may struggle to overcome. 

You can measure brand awareness with:

2. Brand Engagement

Brand engagement measures direct contact between consumers and your brand’s touchpoints, including websites, eCommerce stores, physical locations, social media, advertising, sales teams, customer support teams, and so on. The greater the number of interactions, the higher the engagement. 

Brand engagement is a sign of a healthy relationship between your brand and its customers. Businesses work to increase brand engagement because engaged customers buy more products more often, show greater brand loyalty, and develop enhanced brand awareness. 

Brand engagement also strengthens your brand relative to less engaging competitors. Brand engagement is particularly important when you launch new products and enter new markets. 

Brand engagement is derived from  metrics that include:

3. Brand Sentiment

Brand sentiment measures how consumers feel about your brand and products. The metrics we’ve looked at so far measure awareness and engagement. Brand sentiment analysis helps to put those metrics in context, helping businesses to discern whether attitudes lean positive or negative. 

You can measure sentiment at varying specificities. At a high level, a brand might be interested in the feelings people have for the brand itself. But you can also zoom in to assess sentiment for products, marketing strategies, and events. 

Sentiment can turn on a dime if a brand acts in ways loyal and engaged consumers dislike, so it’s vital to monitor sentiment and respond proactively to shifting attitudes. 

You can measure brand sentiment with:

4. Top-of-Mind Awareness

Top-of-mind awareness (TOMA) measures whether your brand is first to come to a consumer’s mind when asked about a product category or industry. For example, which brands pop into your head in response to the words “flatpack furniture store” or “smartphone manufacturer?” It might not be Ikea and Apple or Samsung, but there’s a good chance it is because these brands are top-of-mind for many American consumers. 

TOMA is the flipside of brand awareness. Brand awareness measures consumers’ awareness of your products and services when prompted with your brand. Top-of-mind measures their likelihood to identify your brand when prompted with a product or service. TOMA is important because consumers are more likely to buy from brands they recall easily when faced with a purchase decision. 

TOMA is usually measured with market surveys. Marketers prompt consumers from a given market segment with a product category and calculate a percentage from the number who respond with the relevant brand. 

5. Brand Association

Brand associations are consumers’ connections between your brand and concepts, emotions, events, and activities. For example, Phillipe Patek may evoke associations with luxury, high-end fashion, and innovation in mechanical engineering. Ikea may evoke associations with practicality, convenience, and value. 

Associations aren’t quantitative metrics. They are qualitative relationships. But associations can be used to measure the positivity or negativity of consumers’ conception of your brand. Analyzing brand associations and their emotional valence helps marketers to develop and target branding strategies. 

Brand strategies often seek to establish new associations or to challenge existing assumptions. Tools like brand templating platforms and brand asset management software help you to consistently generate the desired associations across many different touchpoints. 

6. Purchase Intent

Purchase intent, also known as purchase intention, measures the likelihood that consumers will buy your products over a period of time. It is based on the number of consumers at a phase in their customer journey where buying is a real possibility, as opposed to customers who have recognized a need or started a search but who are not ready to buy. 

Many factors impact purchase intent, including seasonality, brand awareness, sentiment, engagement, and more. Understanding purchase intent allows you to focus marketing resources where they are most effective. To take an exaggerated example, there’s little point in spending to advertise outdoor grills in January when purchase intent is likely to be low. 

Purchase intent is a complex metric with multiple variables. It is usually measured by analyzing historical sales and marketing data and by conducting consumer surveys. 

7. Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty measures a consumer’s willingness to buy repeatedly from your brand over a long period. Brand loyalty is obviously good for sales and marketing budgets: retaining customers is much less expensive than attracting new customers. But it’s also a key brand health metric. 

Healthy brands generate loyal customers who keep coming back for more. A brand that can’t generate loyalty experiences high customer churn. They need to constantly fill the marketing funnel with new prospects. That works for some business models, but maintaining long-term relationships with loyal customers is a key objective of many companies. 

You can use changes in brand loyalty to assess the success of your brand’s strategies and customer experience. A decrease in brand loyalty indicates trouble on the horizon and should prompt you to investigate and mitigate the cause of customer dissatisfaction. 

Brand loyalty is usually established by measuring customer retention rates, negative churn, repeat purchases, and customer lifetime value. 

8. Net Promoter Score

Net promoter scores (NPS) measure how likely customers are to recommend your brand to friends and colleagues. It’s one of the simpler brand KPIs, but it captures important information about your brand’s health. 

NPS is determined by a single-question survey, which asks customers how likely they are to recommend your brand on a scale of zero to ten. Zero is “not at all likely” and ten is “extremely likely.” Promoters rate the company 9-10, passives rate 7-8, and detractors rate 6 or less. Your NPS score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. 

NPS is valued because it correlates with a brand’s long-term health—businesses with high scores do better over the long term. It’s also a useful indicator of brand marketing success. A positive change in NPS signals that a brand marketing strategy is at least somewhat successful. 

9. Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value (CLV) measures the revenue your brand can expect to receive from the typical customer. It’s often used alongside average revenue and average profit and compared to customer acquisition costs to determine the cost-effectiveness of marketing and sales strategies. 

In the context of branding, CLV offers some of the same insights as brand loyalty. All else being equal, growing CLV indicates that your customers are happy with a brand. Marketers can segment their customers to find out which groups are underperforming and develop brand strategies to target those groups. 

CLV is calculated using analytics data from sales platforms. CLV is:

Average Order Value × Average Transactions Per Period × Average Customer Retention Period

10. Social Media and Website Metrics

For many companies, the majority of customer interactions happen online. It’s essential you pay close attention to a wide range of metrics that reflect the success of your online branding efforts. To close this article, let’s look at a few key online brand health metrics you should be focused on.

Use Brand Metrics to Plan Branding Strategies

We’ve explored what brand metrics are and suggested ten metrics you should track. But collecting metrics is only the first step. The next step is to use the data you’ve gathered to prioritize and plan your brand marketing strategies. Some of the ways brand metrics can help you to build effective brand strategies include:

Consistent brand identity and messaging are key to improving your brand’s metrics. Marq offers a range of tools to help you measure brand performancesimplify brand strategy implementation, and maintain consistency across your brand’s touchpoints

To learn more about how Marq can help you to build consistent and measurable brand experiences, schedule a 1:1 with our team.

We’ve been kicking around the term “brand enablement,” and the lightning-bolt level of excitement we have about it is unmatched. We can’t help but think about the teams who often feel handicapped by their own brand. We consider the number of times content is produced that doesn’t align with brand initiatives, guidelines, or even strategy. More often than not, the cause is poor communication channels or teams running in silos. Implementation of an internal brand enablement strategy is crucial to your overall brand strategy. This means brand accessibility and visibility across your organization is how you can deliver on brand strategy initiatives more effectively and efficiently. 


Brand enablement is when anyone can put your brand to work, no matter their team, role, or function within your organization.

In this article, you will learn 


This topic excites us and we hope it delivers the momentum you need moving into the new year. Let’s go!

What is brand enablement?

Brand accessibility, visibility, and usability across your organization are the core of what brand enablement is and can do for your business. When you equip every team with the ability to implement your brand in the channels they use daily, with confidence that they can execute? You’ve eliminated hundreds of hurdles, from creative bottlenecks to the brand/sales game of telephone.

We consider brand enablement to extend beyond a simple brand guide. Brand is more than a logo. Your brand story encompasses your visual identity, messaging, voice, and strategy. These unique brand identifiers that make up your brand get created by your people and then held by a group of brand owners, leaving the rest of your organization handicapped. We get it. Brand matters. Rogue content and off-brand materials aren’t an option.

We also know that creative and design requests are an important part of modern brand management workflows. With that said, it isn’t realistic to dump every idea on your designers to execute. Not only is so much lost in translation, but this leaves organizations in a position where they cannot act quickly, especially when their design teams are overwhelmed with requests. 

Brand enablement allows you to have both. You can have a design team that executes creative ideas while fueling cross-functional teams with brand assets that they can use AND a highly productive organization that creates its own branded content to fulfill strategic initiatives. 

According to CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Report for 2023, 

71% of marketers believe content marketing will be more important than it was in 2022.

83% reported that differentiation from competitors is dependent on quality content production. 

Bottom line, you need everyone in on strategy, aligned, enabled, and operating like a well-oiled machine. Sounds like a dream, right? Let’s talk about how you can make this dream your reality. 

What are the Benefits of Brand Enablement?


Let’s face it; even the most design-savvy cross-functional team member can misinterpret or have difficulty understanding how to implement a brand effectively. The best brand strategy is one where teams’ are enabled and encouraged to take action on their ideas without concern about producing off-brand materials. We consider internal brand enablement rather crucial for organizations to produce at the pace needed to keep up with demand. 


Brand enablement doesn’t just benefit your design teams, it benefits your organization as a whole. What if your designer(s) could equip your team with the brand assets, templates, content types, messaging, etc. ? What would this do for your organization’s growth?

Benefits of Brand Enablement

The benefits of enabling your people with your brand are hard to argue with- you will save time in the back-and-forth shuffle between designers and requesters, and you can also iterate on ideas faster. 

Brand enablement will help you

Think about it this way, you provide tools to your sales teams for example, to enable them to execute their roles. From industry one-sheets to pricing matrixes, empowering your sales team with the right materials and tools enables them to share your product/service and close more deals. These crucial assets greatly benefit their ability to provide customers with information. What if you did that across your entire organization, giving everyone the ability to share ideas and tap into the content that your designers are already creating?

Brand enablement encompasses those sales assets and takes it a step further. This concept creates brand awareness internally and allows any team member to access brand assets thoughtfully created by your design teams. 

Content built for sales could also be incredibly impactful for growth teams. An RFP that was built for a particular customer could be repurposed for another if there was exposure and visiblity to know that it exists. Now, before you say it, we’ll say it first. We aren’t just talking about centralizing assets in the form of digital asset management. That is but one component of brand enablement, and we see the true value of your brand enablement strategy when every component is thoughtfully considered across teams. 


Characteristics of a Successful Brand Enablement Strategy

It isn’t hard to immediately see the benefits of what a well-executed brand enablement strategy could do for your organization. When we think about time saved across teams and this idea that everyone in your organization is a creator, the growth potential is wildly exciting. So, how do you do it? How do you enable your people with your brand? How do you make your brand accessible and useable across your organization?

Brand enablement is made up of three core characteristics.

Is your brand accessible?

When we think about the question, “is your brand accessible?” it is best to start with the foundational elements of your brand within your brand identity. The elements that make up your brand identity should each be included in your brand enablement strategy to ensure that your most critical brand assets are available across your organization. 

Elements of brand identity include

  1. Your logo/wordmark
  2. Your fonts
  3. Taglines / Key Messages
  4. Your brand voice
  5. Supporting visual elements like photography, iconography, etc. 
  6. Branded content templates


How often have you seen the wrong logo attached to a piece of content? Instead of assuming user error, consider this a failure in your brand enablement protocols. Perhaps all logos were provided when your primary logo was the only one your organization needed access to. Or, perhaps your logos were not made accessible at all, so team members had to pull your logo from the internet instead. Yikes! It sounds crazy, but these failed brand interactions happen all the time for even the most sophisticated team structures. 

Establishing a brand identity takes thoughtful execution, but protecting your brand identity is often the most difficult. This is typically why creative teams are given the responsibility of protecting it and why they hold it so close. However, modern brand management and the concept of brand enablement require design teams to find creative ways to bring everyone in on brand activations.

It is next to impossible to keep up with growing content demand without enabling teams to help fill the gap. Accessibility is the first step to bringing cross-functional partners in on brand activities. 

Are your brand activities visible?

Lack of visibility easily leads to duplicate content efforts, wasted resources, and mismanagement of time across your organization. It is like the ages-old saying, does the left hand know what the right hand is doing, but worse in many ways because it costs your organization money and time. When different teams are running on their own initiatives and multiple pieces of content are created that almost mirror each other or share competing messages, you risk delivering a mixed message to your audience. This error can be detrimental to brand equity over time. Further, you could miss out on opportunities by not sharing valuable assets that could be effective for your cross-functional partners. 

Make your brand assets visible to all teams. This will allow anyone, like your sales reps, for example, to utilize graphics that your marketing team made. It will extend the shelf life of your content by allowing anyone to tap into content that has been created and quickly personalize them. 

It will enable your organization to use the branded assets that your team worked so hard to create.

Is your brand usable?

Lastly, ensuring that the assets your creative and design teams have created are usable is essential. It is challenging to take off the designer hat and consider if a non-designer can easily handle your brand assets, but brand enablement depends on it. The expectation should not be that everyone is a designer; instead, are your designs fool-proof and created with the end creator in mind and the intended audience? 

The mechanism for the usability of brand assets is often branded templates. 

When you check your brand against brand enablement standards, you should ask the following questions.

  1. Is your brand identity accessible to teams?
  2. Is your brand usable across your organization?
  3. Do you have templates available for teams to personalize?
  4. Are your brand guidelines accessible?
  5. Can non-designers understand your brand guidelines?
  6. Are your brand assets (including templates) centralized and organized for teams to find what they need easily?


When you consider brand accessibility through the lens of your brand enablement strategy, you can create design assets your organization needs and will use while making those designs accessible so teams can execute confidently. How do you do this? Let’s take a look. 

How do you create brand enablement at your organization?

When you shift to make brand enablement a part of your brand strategy, you’ll want to look for tools that meet the characteristics of brand enablement first and foremost. To review, these are:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Visibility
  3. Usability

You’ll also want to look for easy-to-use solutions that require minimal training and are easily scalable.  You will need a place to store your digital brand assets, an editing tool for content personalization, and an avenue to collaborate on projects. There are several options for DAMs, design tools, template solutions, and collaboration tools, but Marq delivers on all of the above. 

We are more than just a template solution for organizations. Right off the heels of our big Marq Analytics launch, which gives customers insights into which content is used and how often, we are more excited than ever about offering a brand enablement solution for organizations. 

brand_enablement

Our CEO, Owen Fuller, just shared in our 2022 Wrapped about where we are headed, and brand enablement is at the heart of it. We’d love to discuss how we can partner with you to help you do more in the new year. 

Click here to schedule a 1:1 with someone from our team. Or, you can try Marq today, for free

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.

The internet is teeming with sites vying for attention, and a poor first impression could very well be your last. It’s a fine line one walks when it comes to nailing that website design. Some get it right; many don’t. From the layout and navigation to the colors and fonts, everything has something to say about the brand behind the scenes.

Some studies suggest that it only takes 50 milliseconds for a user to decide whether your website is appealing enough. With such a short amount of time, your website needs to wow them fast and leave a strong impression.

Let’s delve deeper into three areas—design, user experience and content—that can make an impact on your viewer, to give you insight into what your website says about your brand.

Driven by design

With dwindling attention spans and fast-changing loyalties, the design of your website plays a huge role in holding the attention of fast-moving visitors and encouraging interaction.

The truth about web design

Source: Kinesis

Organizations spend top dollar to help their websites stand out amongst the noise. With special emphasis on digital marketing strategy, a great website design will help you grab your consumer’s attention.

Traits of a well-designed website

Visual appeal, but for the right audience

Looks matter.

In fact, 38% of users will stop browsing your website if they don’t find it attractive enough. So, a visually appealing website is half the job done. But remember—you are not trying to appeal to everybody.

Good design addresses the target audience with a brand personality users want to engage with. Check out this website, Crypton. It’s designed ideally for a tech-savvy audience.

Crypton homepage

Source: Crypton

Parallax scrolling heightens the user engagement here, but you don’t have to include parallax functionality on every website. Research your buyer personas and use design elements, functions and colors that make your target audience feel right at home.

Your above-the-fold section should do the job

A Nielsen study says the majority of your website visitors will spend 80% of their time above the fold. That’s the section you see without scrolling—call it the opening screen.

The best websites explain what they do in this opening screen. A general practice is to use a headline (think your company’s tagline or mission statement), followed with a brief subtitle text describing your services or products. Top it off with a CTA button to direct visitors toward the next stage in your conversion funnel.

Airbnb does this brilliantly; the headline is the CTA. While there’s no subtitle text, their call-to-action is strengthened by a slideshow of awesome travel photos. Just beneath the headline, a search bar is intuitively placed. The example text in the search bar encourages interaction.

Airbnb homepage

Source: Airbnb

Your design might be ineffective if:

The design approach you take depends on many factors. Location, age brackets, and target groups will certainly affect how your website should look. Having said that, these factors should be the starting points for your design. A well-designed website that considers all these factors will set you apart from the crowd.

User experience counts

Today, it’s all about experiences. You could have a brilliant product or service, but if your website fails to deliver an enjoyable user experience, all that will be for nothing. It all comes down to how you make your customers feel.

The kind of experience users have, good or bad, will stay with them for a long time, even after the browser window is closed. A well-thought-out homepage or landing page with content that resonates will go a long way towards creating a great user experience.

Let’s see what your website’s UX has to say about you.

Good user experience:

Crunchbase homepage

Source: Crunchbase

Airbnb 404 page

Source: Airbnb

Poor user experience:

User experience can make or break your website. To stay ahead of the game, it’s important to take feedback from your visitors. Incorporating that feedback will give your users a sense of gratification and improve future visitors’ experience.

Content will make it all work

Content might be the most important aspect of any website. Well-written content will bring you new traffic and repeat visits.

These days, content isn’t limited to the stuff you read. There’s now an increased demand for visual content. Animations, infographics and GIFs tell stories and illustrate data like never before. Compelling content with clear calls-to-action will eventually drive your users toward conversion.

Take a look at how the quality of your content reflects your brand’s personality.

Characteristics of good content:

HubSpot sales landing page

Source: HubSpot

Characteristics of poor content:

Key takeaway

With so many sites competing for dollars and attention, it’s more important than ever to offer the user an exceptional experience. By breaking down your website into these three areas of design, user experience and content, you can evaluate how well each one contributes to your brand’s success. Conversely, you can also isolate areas that aren’t working and try new ways to engage your audience. When all of these areas represent your brand authentically and consistently, you will enjoy higher traffic, conversions and customer satisfaction.

Want to learn more about building & managing a brand? Check out our free eBook: Managing your brand in the cloud.

Why did you start your business? We’re pretty sure it wasn’t because you wanted to sell one product every blue moon, or because you don’t care about the services you provide.

Let’s be honest: We all want to make a difference, and we want to be recognized for delivering exceptional experiences. Without a positive reputation built on genuine feedback from satisfied customers, you can wave goodbye to local or worldwide recognition.

You’ve probably noticed that bigger brands tend to have this nailed down. You see that red-and-white logo and instantly recognize Coca-Cola, or that blue background and yellow text belonging to IKEA. Even those multi-million-dollar brands had to start from somewhere. How on earth do you create something memorable—something that a customer will recognize and trust right away?

One answer is product packaging. Packaging is the first thing someone will notice on a shelf or when they receive a delivery to their home. The more they relate to it, the more likely it is that they’ll purchase or recommend it to others.

However, before you reach stardom, there are several ways to increase the chance of getting noticed. From the way you speak about your brand to how you package your products, here’s how to tell a memorable brand story.

Colors draw in the customer

Without color, the canvas is blank. A customer won’t look twice at your product if it doesn’t stand out to them in the first place.

Think about what feelings you want someone to get from your product. Should it make them feel like having fun, like a quirky craft beer? Should it make them feel cared for, like a health-related product? Make a list of how you want your product to make customers feel, and find ways to translate that to your packaging.

It can be easy to match colors with feelings: calming blues, bright yellows, passionate reds. A customer could be drawn to a certain color, depending on what they’re looking for. Colors can help you convey your brand identity, as well.

Who is your audience?

As with any form of marketing, keeping your audience in mind throughout the process is a must. Who will buy your product, and what product packaging will appeal most to that particular audience? Think about colors, shapes, sizes—even the wording on each individual product’s package.

Customers often read the text on a product to reinforce their purchasing decisions in their minds. [Tweet this] For example, younger audiences prefer brighter, eye-catching colors with quirky shapes and blocky fonts. Older audiences who purchase luxury products prefer colors like black and gold, combined with elegant fonts and sophisticated language. It’s all about knowing who you’re selling to. Once you do, the rest will come far more easily.

Delivery boxes

No matter the size of your business, it’s not only important to have great product packaging on the shelves. When a customer makes a purchase online, they should feel the same excitement for their delivery as they do for the product in the box.

Depending on the size of your business, you might need to batch-order boxes for delivering your products. Businesses often need extra help to meet customer demand. BCS box-making machinery can help to create quality, durable boxing that makes an impact.

Consider sprucing up your boxes with custom-branded stamps, tape and delivery labels—as well as adding extra protection for your product inside each box. Think about padding, branded freebies, and money-off coupons as ways to encourage repeat purchases from your customers.

Logos & graphics

If you’re not including your logo and other branded imagery on your products, how do you expect a customer to know it’s you? When people see a familiar logo, they know almost instantly whether they trust that business enough to buy the product.

Graphics, although not always brand-specific, can often make or break your product packaging. If you’re selling healthy products, you’re more likely to succeed with a green, leafy design. Think about what works, and use a bit of common sense to gauge how you want the product to come across.

Product blurbs

Your brand story is important. So important, in fact, that many businesses make space on their product packaging to write a little about how their business started. Other companies write about their values, such as Lush and their natural, eco-friendly approach.

You can probably think of a few other examples of brands who do this well—which means they’re doing things the right way. The care and effort you take here will pay off when customers remember your story and take it to heart. Shoppers will appreciate an attractive design with an inspiring blurb more than one with a cut-and-dry description. Don’t forget that it’s often the packaging of a product that sells it, not just what’s inside.

Key takeaway

Customers need to recognize your products before building trust and loyalty in your brand. Find your brand’s voice and tell its story—your product packaging depends on it.

Like many things worth learning about these days, brand identity is a topic that sometimes gets so misconstrued and complex that the whole thing turns into a big meaningless fugazi.

For some reason, a lot of designers seem to think that making their ideas about brand identity sound more complicated will in turn make them sound like they know their stuff.

In my opinion, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In the famous words of Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Sadly, because many businesses have a preconception that brand identity has to be a complex affair, they make it so. But in the ever-changing, fast-paced business world of today, who’s got time for complicated?

Simplicity is key to making good decisions, fast.

So, if we were to sheer away all of the confusing fluff surrounding brand identity, what sort of beast would we be left with underneath?

Welcome to the minimalist guide to brand identity, where all of the confusing and pretentious stuff is thrown out the window and we focus solely on the stuff that really matters.

Let’s dig in.

Rule #1: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Just take a look at Gap’s rebrand from 2010.

Minimalist branding guide

LOOK AT IT!

That change cost them 100 million dollars.

And, they changed it back.

The lesson? If you already have a brand that works, and no compelling reason to change it, leave it as is.

Branding (your brand’s identity) only needs to be changed when the perception of you in the market doesn’t match what you actually do and represent as a business… which leads us into the next rule.

Rule #2: Put your values first.

So, you’ve thought about the point above and decided, “Yes, we actually do need to fix our brand because it doesn’t match who we are.” Fair enough.

But, before you even start to talk about the visual stuff—fonts, colors, imagery and so on—you need to do a little soul-searching to get down on paper the values of your business.

This, in essence, is what a brand’s identity is: the values that the visuals represent. [ ]

Everything about the brand therefore needs to make sense and represent you in some way, so start by answering a few simple questions like:

Answering those sorts of questions will help direct you in making choices about the visual aspects of the brand.

If you want your brand to be considered tough and macho, for example, you wouldn’t go for a curly, wavy font.

If you want your service to be perceived as simple and to-the-point, you wouldn’t want to go overboard with the imagery.

Once you’ve got those values nailed down, it’s much easier to say whether a visual idea is a good fit for your business.

Rule #3: Simplicity is key.

Sure, you could take a course on branding & design. You could read Pearce’s Theory of Semiotics. You could hire a team of brand consultants to come in with their chihuahuas, fedoras and turmeric lattes to give your brand “pizzazz” and make it pop.

But, why bother when you can keep the process simple?

You’d be amazed at how many companies waste weeks or months—even years in some cases—obsessing over minuscule brand details.

While it’s true that the devil is in the details, it’s also true that branding, just like any other form of art, is incredibly subjective.

Remember that, while you might get into disputes over the finer details internally, as long as the new brand looks good and represents your values, people won’t notice that your font is slightly lighter, slightly bolder, or that you’ve chosen Pool Party Valspar over Filoli Morning Valspar (yes, those are genuine Pantone colors).

In other words, don’t let your own personal ideas of perfection get in the way of progress.

Keep your decision-making system simple, while understanding that people on your team are bound to have a few ideas you don’t, and the process will be both quick and fruitful.

Rule #4: Look at your competitors.

If you want to save time while building a brand identity (and the elements to match), it’s crucial to put together a board of your competitors’ brands, including their logos and value propositions.

Why? Because a lot of businesses rush in, creating a brand they love, only to realize that it looks disappointingly similar to the competition.

Consider zagging where everyone else has zigged. If every brand in your industry is blue, pick another color that will make you more memorable and own that hue instead.

It’s far more powerful to stand out than fit in, so don’t assume that just because everyone else has done something for a reason, you should follow suit.

Looking at competitors early in the process is an easy way to guide your identity and the resulting elements. Other companies will give you insight into exactly which routes to pass by and which ones to explore.

Rule #5: Listen.

I’d strongly recommend using this exercise to build trust with your customers.

Ask them what they think your brand values are to get a picture of the way they see you.

Not only will they love that you got in touch, they’ll feel valued and potentially even become brand advocates.

This is the best and most accurate source of data when revising your brand identity.

Rule #6: Test, tweak and test again.

Once you’ve made your decisions and pushed your new brand identity out there, the key is to test and make sure the changes you hoped would be evident are the ones you actually get.

A soft launch to the same customers you spoke with can be a great way to gauge whether the decisions you’ve made are wise ones.

More often than not, some unexpected reactions and results are likely to occur. A/B testing new messaging & branding on your website and in your communications is a great way to measure whether certain tweaks are working.

When you do launch—especially with changes to messaging—it’s advisable to make incremental changes so you can track exactly what’s worked and what hasn’t. If you push ahead and change everything in one go, you’ll never know which elements are responsible for positive or negative reactions.

Key takeaway

Branding is a huge differentiator. No matter how you approach the subject internally, it’s important to keep a commercial head on your shoulders and realize that the more time & resources you sink into your new brand, the less cost-effective it becomes.

I know that’s a pretty boring thing to say when talking about something as exciting as branding, but many businesses fall into the trap of sinking so much time into brand identity work that the whole project becomes a false economy, costing you way more than it could possibly generate in revenue.

To avoid that pitfall, keep your decision-making process swift, honest, and void of too many personal preferences—and your identity project will be a flying success.

Ready to begin? Learn about the 10 assets you need to effectively manage your brand online in our free ebook.

Sometimes the best idea is the simplest one. That was certainly the case for the founder of J Dawgs, a Utah-based hot dog restaurant that recently opened its fifth location.

One day, Jayson “J” Edwards, then an unfulfilled Asian Studies major, walked past an abandoned red shack in Provo, Utah, and decided that it would make a great hot dog stand. Naturally, he dropped out of school and got to work.

5 brand identity heroes

Seven years later, J opened his first restaurant outside of Provo and attributed his success to a single factor: “the food.”

J was right about one thing: the quality of a product determines whether customers will keep coming back to it. But letting a product speak for itself, alone, isn’t a very good marketing strategy—especially for a small, relatively unknown business. It might work in the long run, but it takes a very long run to get there (seven years for J, in fact).

That’s what makes a brand’s personality—the human personality traits that it projects to potential customers—so important. It introduces people to your brand so they can form a positive impression even before they take a chance on your product. (Fortunately, J’s branding has now caught up with his product: see his new page).

In this post, we’ll look at five brands that we think each exemplify one of the dimensions of great brand personality.

1. Sincerity — lululemon

In order for customers to trust a brand with their business, they must first believe that the company actually desires their well-being.

That’s exactly how lululemon comes across with its lowercase, low-key approach to branding. It’s got all the passion of other brands without the tension that comes from trying too hard to impress. Lululemon’s straightforward approach convinces users that this brand has nothing to hide, that it is exactly what it professes to be.

5 brand identity heroes

The lululemon blog’s focus on real stories about real people, such as those who participate in yoga on Canada’s Parliament Hill, reinforces its sincerity.

Businesses can develop a similarly sincere brand by setting realistic expectations with customers from the start instead of overhyping a product to force a sale.

2. Excitement — Johnny Cupcakes

While we all value our sincere friends for their truthfulness, they aren’t always the ones we turn to for fun on a Friday night—which is where excitement comes in.

Energy and inventiveness are at the heart of a brand’s excitement. Those are both strong suites of Johnny Cupcakes, a one-of-a-kind “t-shirt bakery” whose designs all manage to look vintage and fresh at the same time. We particularly admire the shaking cupcake-and-crossbones logo that appears whenever you’re waiting for another page to load: its movement suggests the energy underlying the whole establishment.

5 brand identity heroes

Companies wanting to give off exciting vibes should look for ways to incorporate pop culture references into their marketing. Such trendiness won’t just earn them more clicks—it will also convey to customers the thrill of buying and using their products.

3. Competence — Genius

5 brand identity heroes

A brand is considered competent if consumers perceive it to be dependable, intelligent and successful.

Genius.com manages to convey dependability with its barebones design, intelligence with its no-nonsense moderating system, and success with its insightful explanations of the history and vision of the site. Originally launched as a meeting ground for people to interpret rap lyrics, Genius is now home to helpfully annotated texts ranging from literary classics to fast food menus.

Takeaways for your business:

4. Sophistication — Vango Art

Not every customer is looking for the pure functionality offered by competent brands. Sophisticated brands like Vango appeal to their clients’ more refined sensibilities.

5 brand identity heroes

Everything from Vango’s cursive slogan (“Be original”) to the muted background colors contributes to a general sense of delicacy, balance and restraint. The real draw, of course, is the art itself, most of which appears to be the very soul of elegance.

To develop your brand’s sophistication, make it your goal to inspire, soothe and console your clients. For example, you might start a social media campaign, complete with a hashtag inviting users to share relevant, uplifting stories.

5. Ruggedness — Pebble Smartwatch

While a sophisticated approach might appeal to artistic types, it could just as easily leave behind the rough-and-tumble rovers.

In fact, a brand’s ruggedness can deliberately challenge the overblown sophistication of other brands. That’s exactly the case for Pebble, which produces a smartwatch that’s in direct competition with more expensive (and more indulgent) high-end watches. The ad below, with its retro pixel artwork and sassy tone, makes a strong appeal for getting back to basics. This tongue-in-cheek branding helps Pebble tap into the trend of anti-consumerism—without making you think it’s just a cheap watch.

5 brand identity heroes

To build up a rugged brand personality, emphasize outdoor use cases and functionality over appearance. That’s not to say that your product should look bad; just don’t make it showy.

What does this mean for my brand?

While we’ve picked out brands that we think exemplify each of these characteristics, no brand can or should fit perfectly into a single category. Instead, you may blend several of these characteristics together for optimum results.

If you’re unsure where to begin, consider listing what you know about your audience. Your brand personality should be a response to their needs and interests. Once you know what speaks to them, you’ll begin to understand what kind of brand personality they will appreciate.

Learn more: Do you know the 10 essential brand assets for digital success?

With the right slogan, you can make people giggle at a pun, ponder the mysteries of the universe, or even experience a powerful craving. A poor slogan, on the other hand, risks making customers cringe. And forking over cash is usually the last thing someone wants to do after cringing.

This post will give you a 5-step guide to writing great slogans. So whether you need a brand new idea or you’re refining an existing slogan, you’ll be in business. Let’s get started!

1. Make your slogan ABC: Ambitious But Credible

Believability is the first test of a good slogan, because a customer’s belief or lack thereof largely determines how he or she will respond, and that response could very well be the difference between buying and walking away. No matter how much fun your slogan is to say, or how good it looks next to your logo, it won’t do any good if your customers don’t believe it. [Tweet this]

For example, Nike’s command to “find your fast” comes across as completely believable. While having the right equipment isn’t the only factor in athletic success, it is a factor. Slogans like this one invite consumers to put their trust in a brand, which is a big plus.

Effective business slogans

Some key questions to ask about your slogan:

2. Appeal to emotional needs

Making a purchase is often an emotional experience. If a slogan can incite a strong positive emotion (think joy, excitement, sympathy, etc.), it stands a better chance of connecting people with the products and services that aim to fill those needs.

For example, major hotel chains go out of their way to convey comfort: Hilton claims to be “filling the earth with light and warmth of hospitality,” while Aston bids “welcome home” to each traveler who sets foot on their premises.

You can also tug at the heart strings without being sappy. When Kleenex launched a video ad about a boy who gives a tissue to a girl he spots crying on the school bus, the closing observation that “someone needs one” positioned Kleenexes as the universal response to tears everywhere.

Questions to consider about your slogan:

3. Stand out with clever wordplay

Your slogan ought to be tricky or clever enough to make most readers think about your slogan for a minute or two, which makes it more likely that they’ll remember it. If it’s too tricky, however, it can go right over their heads and leave them confused.

There’s no easy way to come up with a clever saying, but you can start by listing words that have to do with your product, then searching for rhymes, synonyms, and alternate definitions for puns.

Those aren’t the only ways to make your slogan stand out—in fact, sounding too catchy in a clichéd way could be counterproductive. Reese’s “two great tastes that taste great together” follows an A-B-B-A structure that, intentionally or not, imitates the peanut-butter filled structure of the candy itself.

Nor does it have to be complicated to sound good. “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks” isn’t just easy on the tongue; it’s also a straightforward slogan that goes well with the down-to-earth nature of hardware stores.

https://youtu.be/KNo9lW6SIOI

Ask yourself:

4. Just say no to clichés and superlatives

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from catchy to corny?

If people can sarcastically cite your slogan to disprove it when they experience setbacks, you’ve probably crossed that line. [Tweet this]

Another sign you may have gone too far is the use of tired clichés. Phrases such as “we do X so you don’t have to”; “for x, by x”; and “x of the future” are all used so frequently that consumers are used to tuning them out. If you really want to express the sentiment embodied in these phrases, find a unique way of doing so.

Some key questions to consider are:

5. Maintain a strong connection to your business

Can you match the following slogans to the product they represent?

1. Made like no otherA. beverages2. Rethink the daily grindB. women’s deodorant3. Live loudC. toilet paper4. Live life in full colourD. denture fixatives5. Bend the rulesE. 3D desktop scanners6. Designed to be forgottenF. ice cream

Having trouble making the connection? The point is that a slogan should strongly relate to the product it promotes. It if doesn’t, then it might catch people’s attention momentarily, but it won’t stay with them.

It’s best if there’s a strong, interesting link between your slogan and your product. For instance, Aquafina’s insistence that their water is “for happy bodies” makes good sense. Sunchips’ claim to be “unique in every wave” distinguishes their chips from their less curvy competitors. Finally, Paper & Packaging Board’s assertion that their products are at the heart of “how life unfolds” wouldn’t make much sense for, say, a burger stand.

Effective business slogans

(And if you want to know the quiz answers, here they are: 1. F, 2. A, 3. D, 4. B, 5. E, 6. C.)

Congratulations! You made it through Business Slogans 101. Once you’ve written a killer slogan of your own, be sure to sell it visually as well as verbally. Lucidpress templates can help you incorporate your new slogan into all kinds of marketing materials: social media graphicsdigital magazinescompany newsletters, and much more.

We love stories. We use them to understand our world, to make connections with others, and to find meaning in our lives. Ever notice how, at a party with a lot of loud conversations, when someone starts getting into a great story, the conversation dies down and everyone turns to listen? That’s the power of stories. We can’t resist the good ones.

That being said, it’s no surprise that the brands who tell great stories are being noticed. At its best and most powerful, content marketing is storytelling. [Tweet this] That’s what the phrase “storytelling marketing” is getting at—a story-focused approach to your marketing and brand building.

In this post, I’ll cover four examples of brand storytelling from top companies and talk about how all of us can learn from and apply their best practices. So keep reading to see what Apple, Airbnb, John Deere, and Jell-O can teach us about storytelling marketing and building a brand.

1. Apple and Steve Jobs

Apple was destined to make it onto this list. Ever since my family got our first Mac, I’ve been a fanboy. And as for Steve Jobs, his life and work have inspired me personally and professionally in deeply affecting ways. He’s one of my superheroes. Personal stakes aside, Apple can tell a great story. And often, Steve Jobs was the one who told those stories.

Steve Jobs introducing iPhone with storytelling

Jobs’ introduction of the first iPhone in 2007 is the stuff of legend. I still get goosebumps watching it and basking in the masterful storytelling. Steve begins by telling the audience why they should care about what he’s about to tell them. Because of what Apple had done before, and because Apple knew their market so well, it was almost a given that people were invested in Steve’s presentation. But he doesn’t make that an excuse to ignore good storytelling principles.

Steve begins the presentation by masterfully building suspense. A touchscreen iPod? A phone? An internet communicator? What is he up to? Then, even as the audience is starting to catch on, he lingers in the suspense a bit longer before making the reveal: a three-in-one mobile phone that would change the world forever.

Steve Jobs on stage using storytelling

Jobs was building the iPhone’s brand even before the audience had seen it, and the story was consistent with the company brand Apple had already built. Apple knew they’d made something exceptional. It was up to Steve to tell the best story, and he did.

Today, Apple continues Steve Jobs’ tradition of storytelling marketing. They do a great job of telling a story about what it looks like for customers to successfully use their products. Apple weaves their products seamlessly into the story. They also show how their products help people create their own stories, and Apple highlights the stories people create.

An example of this is the “Start Something New” initiative that showcases art people are creating with Apple products. With this page, Apple is providing a platform for their customers to tell the brand’s story, a technique that can produce the most authentic and engaging results.

Platform for Apple customers to tell the brand's story

I will say that this site has some big UX issues, which is uncharacteristic of Apple, but I love the idea. Apple’s TV spots for the iPhone 6S also follow this principle. The spots don’t linger on gratuitous close-up shots of the iPhone and how pretty it is (though boy are Apple products pretty). They show relatable but slightly-cooler-than-is-realistic people using the iPhone to do really cool things.

What can we learn from Apple?

2. Airbnb

I’ll just come right out and say it: Airbnb blew me away with their content. It’s the kind of stuff I would enjoy reading just because. After browsing the content for a bit, I was totally hooked. And I never once felt like I was being marketed to. But I can say that I definitely wanted to go stay somewhere with Airbnb after reading.

So their approach works. Airbnb’s content is totally focused on people—on the people who own the homes listed and the travelers who go there. They show how connecting with others is important to their brand and how their brand makes that possible. It’s a very human approach, and it works perfectly. In a very clear statement about the importance of stories to the Airbnb brand, there’s an entire page on their website labeled airbnb.com/stories.

This page has videos and little bios of Airbnb hosts around the world. It was one of my favorite things I found on the site.

Stories from the Airbnb community

Here’s one of the stories that I especially enjoyed. Airbnb is also experimenting with a brand magazine called Pineapple. On their website, Airbnb describes Pineapple as “a platform for the incredible stories from Airbnb’s extended family to be shared; it is somewhere for readers to see how people live and create connections in cities today.”

Pineapple magazine for Airbnb storytelling

This meshes perfectly with the rest of Airbnb’s approach. They focus on the stories and on the people, recognizing that this is the language by which humans communicate, so that is the approach that will attract more customers. There is also a truly genuine element running through Airbnb’s content.

At least I got the sense that they really do care about their communities and the impact that Airbnb has on them. They are invested in the lives of these people. They care. Content marketing best practice? Care about your customers. [Tweet this]

What can we learn from Airbnb?

Note: I found a lot of the information about Airbnb from this post.

3. John Deere

Believe it or not, John Deere is pretty darn good at content. And they’ve been putting an emphasis on content since before most other brands even existed. For some context, let’s take a quick look at the history.

In 1895, John Deere printed the first issue of The Furrow, their brand magazine. This was long before anyone had even mentioned the phrase “content marketing.” By 1912, the magazine was being distributed to 4 million readers. John Deere still produces The Furrow today, which is received by about 2 million global readers.

John Deere magazine telling their story

It may not have been hard for the folks at John Deere to realize that agriculture is important to their customers, and, predictably, agriculture is the focus of The Furrow. But it’s the diversity of the topics and stories covered that really makes this magazine stand out. It may be tempting to group all farmers into one category, but from what I’ve seen, they’re a diverse group. In speaking to farmers generally, John Deere has the difficult task of telling stories that a lot of different people will care about.

This is reflected on the topics that are featured in The Furrow. They run the gamut from a piece on the beef industry to coverage of gourmet chocolate production in St. Lucia. Both of these stories are focused on agriculture, but in very different ways. Even so, because they’re interesting, well-written stories, they have a broad appeal that transcends differences in the agricultural community.

Diverse content in The Furrow magazine by John Deere

I also really like the fact that The Furrow is a magazine, and even more, I like that it’s distributed digitally. Using Lucidpress, your brand can follow John Deere’s lead and create digital magazines to present your story and build your brand. Lucidpress has a great collection of online magazine templates that make the process fast and easy. Lucidpress also has collaboration features that allow a team to work together on the same project at the same time. If stories enhance human connection, then it’s also true that the best stories come from humans working together.

What can we learn from John Deere?

Note: The historical information about The Furrow is from this blog post.

4. Jell-O

I thought it’d be nice to wrap this post up with a fun example. Who doesn’t love Jell-O, right? Ok, a lot of you probably don’t like to eat Jell-O, but I dare you to tell me that you don’t find joy in this:

Bouncing Jello

And then there’s this classic scene from Jurassic Park:

Jurassic Jello

Never gets old. But in addition to providing endless entertainment without ever leaving us too full, Jell-O does a good job of brand building with storytelling marketing. The story Jell-O has focused on is people successfully making delicious desserts using their product (a similar approach to Apple, but with gelatin instead of hard drives).

Half of their website is devoted to easy-to-make recipes, and the photos of the finished products come together to form a great example of visual storytelling. Take a look:

Visual storytelling by posting pictures of desserts made with Jello

What this page illustrates is that you can get creative with brand storytelling. Recipes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about storytelling marketing, but because of the way Jell-O presents their recipes, it becomes a story about all the things that you can do with Jell-O. Sure, they left out this application:

Jello bellyflop pool

But they told a good story, regardless.

What we can learn from Jell-O?

So now what?

Brands live or die on their ability to enhance human connection. And stories, I have found, are the best way to build connections. So, take a look at your brand. Find the human element, and ask yourself, “How can I make people’s lives better? What story would they like to hear?”

You can jump on a call with some of your customers or maybe send out a survey to find the answers to these questions. Once your brand’s story begins to take shape, you can use Lucidpress to present your story in the best possible way. Whether that’s a magazine, a monthly newsletter, an eBook, or something else entirely. If your customers feel that your brand improves their lives, then they’ll want to be a part of your story. And in the end, your story is your brand. So make sure it’s a good one.

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

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.

First it was smartphones, quickly followed by tablets and now smartwatches. The move towards mobile devices is quickening, and marketers are following suit. In 2016, they spent $101 billion on mobile internet ads worldwide, $40 billion in the U.S. alone. From 2013 to 2019, there will be an estimated tenfold increase in mobile advertising spending.

So how can your brand benefit from mobile spending? And how can you make sure that your mobile customers keep coming back?

Here are some ways marketers are using mobile to increase brand loyalty and cash in on mobile success.

Mobile pay creates loyal customers

No, mobile pay is not the leading form of payment. Not yet. But things are heading in that direction. In 2014, mobile pay accounted for $4 billion of in-store purchases. By 2019, it’s expected to increase to $34 billion. Though still lagging way behind plastic with only 13% of smartphone owners having used it to make a purchase, that number will rise. Especially since marketers for companies such as Android and Samsung are starting to offer incentives like loyalty cards for customers who use their mobile pay platforms.

Retailers like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts offer mobile pay through their apps and reward customers who use it. The Starbucks mobile pay program via its app has been so successful that over 21% of all U.S. Starbucks store purchases come from it. There’s an expectation that in a few short years, the app payments will account for 50% of business.

Richard Crone, CEO of mobile-strategy company Crone Consulting LLC said the Starbucks mobile pay app was “the most successful launch of a new payment type in history.” Marketers, take note.

You can improve customer targeting with mobile ads

Mobile is on the cutting edge of marketing technology. Where else can you seamlessly integrate geofencing, purchase preferences and history, and social media interaction with your brand? Mobile lets you isolate essential customer information to offer the most personalized and targeted marketing in history.

Mark Ghermezian of Appboy says about the future of mobile marketing:

“Brands must understand how to strategically connect with customers on a personal basis and encourage engagement, based on customer behavior, to transform them into long-lasting users. Mobile marketing automation will allow companies to collect and use data in a more actionable way and deliver personalized and timely messages to their customers.”

Companies who effectively harness mobile tools create stronger relationships with their customers by anticipating their needs, stimulating their desires, and rewarding them with exclusive offers and promotions.

Customers like to shop on mobile devices

Consumers interact with brands through their smartphones in a number of ways. They look up brick-and-mortar store locations, search for coupons and make purchases. Anna Bager, senior vice president of mobile and video at the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) says:

“Pressing the ‘buy’ button on mobile devices is now a regular occurrence the world over. […] Marketers and media agencies need to fully embrace smartphones and tablets as a critical pathway for all shopping activities and increase investment if they want to build meaningful relationships with mobile consumers, driving them from discovery to purchase.”

The fact is that customers like to shop on their mobiles. In a study involving mobile users in 19 different countries, 80% said they had a positive experience with mobile shopping. Also, consumers engage more proactively with mobile apps than with traditional forms of advertising. The ability to take advantage of deals and shop at their own convenience are key factors in mobile shopping’s popularity.

Mobile apps increase your brand frequency

Mobile apps not only incorporate all of the above principals, but they also effectively increase a customer’s exposure to your brand. Americans spend on average 4.7 hours a day looking at their smartphones. Factoring in sleep, that means that people are spending about a third of their day on mobile. If your brand is on their device, they’re being exposed to it constantly.

The marketing term “effective frequency” suggests that the more frequently a consumer is exposed to your brand, the higher their intent to purchase becomes. When you adopt a mobile marketing strategy, you’re exponentially increasing your brand’s visibility.

Dick Stroud, Managing Director at 20plus30 said it best when he remarked, “At the birth of the web, companies aimed to get their website bookmarked. Marketers should be in a race to get their apps on the home screen of consumers’ smart devices.”

Ignoring mobile is a big risk.

As the trend towards personalization and targeting through mobile increases, customers are changing their expectations of interactions with brands. 54% of consumers say that a poor mobile app experience would make it less likely for them to patronize that business again, and 27% of consumers say that it would give them a negative view of the brand’s products.

Marketers ignore the mobile trend at their peril. It was estimated that the UK retail industry loses a potential 6.6 billion GBP due to lack of investment in mobile. Jamie Turner of 60SecondMarketer warns: “If you’re not using mobile marketing to attract new customers to your business, don’t worry—your competitors are already using it and are getting those customers instead.”

An investment in mobile marketing is an investment in brand loyalty. Even fringe technologies like mobile pay are on the rise and some early adopters have already seen great success in using it to increase customer loyalty. Your mobile presence has a great deal to do with consumer perception of your brand. Bottom line: use mobile or lose customers.

Physics is to Albert Einstein as branding is to David Brier.

A walking, talking brand himself, David Brier graced our screens three weeks ago for a webinar that divulged the 19 questions every organization should ask before rebranding.

I have to admit, I expected all the cliché questions: Who is our audience? What is our core strength? Yadda, yadda, yadda. But David proved he isn’t a world-renowned rebrand expert for simply stating what I already learned in Marketing 101… he’s world-renowned for asking the kind of questions that require intense (organizational) introspection. Questions that actually make you think.

Intrigued? Watch the full webinar here and read to follow along.

David Brier’s draw can probably be attributed to his three decades of branding experience, but on a personal note, I think the bold, in-your-face personality may have a little something to do with it too. Case in point? “I’ve been compared to a triple-shot espresso.”

His words, not mine!

Now… sit back, relax, and let me take you on a journey through David’s mega-marketing mind as I summarize some of the insights we learned during his webinar. And remember, you can always just watch the recorded webinar in full if you’d rather hear it straight from him.

Why do companies rebrand?

Here’s a shocking fact:

For some reason, we as marketers can forget this minor detail. Entire populations who were once our brand loyalists don’t stay that way forever. They’re replaced by an entirely new generation of new human beings with new opinions and needs. Which means you need new messaging.

In David’s words: “With today’s technology, these changes are happening faster than ever. To stay relevant, sometimes the correct strategy is a rebrand.”

So we embrace the fact that the world constantly changes, we stay relevant, and we resonate with the new generations as they come. Easy, right?

Well, as David points out, companies repeatedly struggle to pull off an effective rebrand.

It’s that wall. No matter how hard you market and how targeted your campaigns are, there still seems to be a disconnect between you and potential customers.

The problem? Clichés.

David explained how certain phrases like “state of the art,” “knowledgable staff,” and “caring customer service” (who talks like that, anyway?) can alienate companies from their audience and be too predictable to hold interest.

More importantly, clichés distract from good branding.

Branding the right way

According to David, the definition of good branding is good differentiating. No surprise there, right? Stand out from the competition and potential customers will notice you more. As David reminds us: “Differentiating is not a luxury. You differentiate if you want to survive.”

You differentiate if you want to survive.

Now that’s a bold statement.

He’s got a point, though. The great thing about David is that he doesn’t make a bold statement without something to back it up. In this case, that something is a slew of real-world examples. Real brands that had real problems until he swooped in and differentiated the heck out of them. I’ll let you discover the intriguing before-and-after brand transformations when you watch webinar in full.

The 19 rebranding questions

The stage has been set. We understand why companies rebrand, what branding is, and why it matters. Now for the hard part—how to actually go through with a rebrand.

It’s about time we dive into the 19 questions, isn’t it?

I’ll cover the first five questions here. If you want the remaining 14, I’ll let you watch David reveal the rest himself.

Rebranding question #1: Why are we doing a rebrand?

Seems like an obvious question, but as David points out, many companies make the mistake of rebranding simply to rebrand—to be “prettier” and to change things up. But rebranding is not worth the time and money if it doesn’t revolve around strategy and relevancy.

Rebranding question #2: What problem are we attempting to solve?

Does your packaging get lost on the shelf? Is your product not valuable to customers once they get it? Figure out the problem you are trying to solve, and let rebranding help fix that problem. If you don’t have a clear objective to your rebrand, rebranding really won’t do you much good.

Rebranding question #3: Has there been a change in the competitive landscape that is impacting your growth potential?

As much as we’d like to think our brand isn’t impacted by the decisions of other brands, it is. No brand exists as an island. You always have to be watching the landscape around you, and be nimble and fluid in response.

Rebranding question #4: Has our customer profile changed?

Yesterday’s innovation becomes today’s normal, and new innovations can drastically change our customer profile. Don’t blindly base your strategy on information that could have been relevant for your audience five years ago but has no place in your brand today.

Rebranding question #5: Are we pigeonholed as something that we (and our customers) have outgrown?

Many times, businesses evolve as they grow. They start out with a certain focus, then shift that focus as time goes on. For example, a 25-year-old dance institution that still used a ballet dancer in their logo admitted to David that ballet now accounted for only 15% of their training. It’s a prime example of a brand pigeonholing themselves by not keeping up with their own evolution and growth in their branding.

As for the last 14 questions, they really are worth reviewing. David’s tips are chock-full of insights that get you to fight for your rebranding strategy—to really have a reason for how and why you’re doing it. A true rebrand should be hard—it should challenge your fundamental beliefs about your organization and spark new ideas of how to better hone in on the core value it provides.

Thinking about a rebrand? If it’s time for a brand intervention, you won’t want to miss our webinar with branding expert David Brier.

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.

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.

Branding your office can have a positive impact both on employees and on clients who visit, so it is well worth the time and effort to do it right. Yet, many businesses fail to do so, leaving their employees to work in uninspiring office buildings. Here, we present five office design tips to ensure your brand stands out.

Office design tips

Photo from Unsplash

1. Define your brand values

Prior to starting any office interior design work, it is important that you and your design team establish exactly what your brand values are. In addition to obvious things like logos, slogans, color schemes and trademarks, you need to think of your business as having its own personality.

Ask yourself how your business helps people and what associations you would like customers to draw. One of the best ways to truly get to the core of your brand identity is to ask those working on the project to think of five words that describe your business and five words that describe your customers.

2. Differentiate between staff and client spaces

When planning your office design, it’s important to differentiate between client spaces and staff-only spaces. After all, employees and clients will likely view your business differently—and you may actually want them to do so.

Your staff can sometimes see through the branding that is aimed at customers, because they witness the everyday realities of the business. During the design phase, try to come up with appropriate branding ideas for the two different types of office spaces, so that you send the right messages.

Startup office design tips

Photo from Unsplash

3. Focus on key touchpoints

Office branding can be a balancing act, and it is certainly possible to overdo it. One of the best tips for getting the balance right is to focus on the areas where your branding will have the biggest impact.

An obvious client touchpoint is the reception area, so this should be branded to clearly state who you are and what you do. However, you should also identify what the most important employee areas are in your office and consider which behaviors you want to encourage or discourage there.

4. Include your products

Depending on the nature of your brand, one of the most effective office interior design techniques you could employ is to showcase your own products. After all, nothing tells the story of your brand quite like your products do.

“If you’re a company with a great product, then think about how you can bring this to the fore,” says Peter Ames, writing for Office Genie. “For example, John West’s Liverpool HQ has its testing kitchen as a central hub. What better way for a food company to demonstrate what it’s all about?”

5. Pay attention to color schemes

Last, but by no means least, you need to think carefully about the color scheme you use in your office and consider how it relates to your brand. Assuming the colors associated with your brand are not too outlandish, it may be appropriate to use them to decorate your office.

Alternatively, if using company colors would be too distracting, consider the nature of your business and decorate accordingly. If your staff works under high pressure, you probably don’t want to worsen this by using intense colors. At the same time, if creativity is at the heart of your brand, plain white walls will not suffice.

Office design and branding tips

Photo from Unsplash

I’ve been writing page titles incorrectly my entire career.

Google has provided best practices for constructing page titles, including:

These are all great practices to follow on every page of your site. But I’ve recently learned that there’s something else just as important as the best practices Google provides:

Quote by Margo Aaron

Don’t just optimize titles. Optimize thought sequences.

Your page title serves three primary purposes:

  1. To provide searchers with a description of your page.
  2. To provide Google with information that helps it determine how relevant your page is to a search query.
  3. To provide messaging to searchers that drives them to click on your result.

Succeeding in this final purpose will determine whether your pages achieve click-through rates that outperform average rates in Google. With page titles, I found an easy technique for presenting the right messaging to searchers: brand positioning.

Why brand positioning?

Phillip Kotler, Professor of International Marketing at Northwestern University, defines brand positioning as “the art of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the target market’s mind.”

Occupying a space in the searcher’s mind is how you compel them to click on your result instead of your competitors’.

A case study

Here’s an example from a page on our site targeting the keyword “ebook templates.”

The original title for our eBook templates page was the following:

Free eBook Templates & Examples | Lucidpress

This title follows Google’s best practices: it accurately describes the page, it’s unique, and it’s brief but descriptive.

It also meets the first two purposes of a page title: it provides searchers with a description of the page, and it provides Google with information to determine how relevant your page is to a search query.

What it lacked was messaging that compelled searchers to click on our link. Nothing in the original title helped “occupy a distinctive place in the target market’s mind.”

Our hypothesis was this: If we could help searchers imagine how our eBook templates would help them grow their brands, then we’d be able to compel them to click on our result over the others.

Keeping this brand positioning in mind, here’s the new title:

Free eBook Templates & Examples to Help Build Your Brand

The result: a 118% increase in the click-through rate for the keyword “ebook templates.”

Incorporate brand positioning into your page titles

To incorporate brand positioning into your page titles, I’ve found it helpful to create a brand positioning statement for each page:

Our [subject] page helps [the audience] [achieve a result] so they can [benefit].

In the example for our eBook template page, here’s the statement we came up with:

Our eBook templates page helps small business owners position themselves as an authority so they can grow their brands.

Bonus: The power of branding

According to Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design: “Brand will become the most powerful strategic tool since the spreadsheet.”

Data from a study we conducted at Lucidpress with the global marketing research & advisory firm Demand Metric seems to back up this statement.

In this study, we found that the average revenue increase attributed to having a consistent brand is 23%.

[Click here to view our full report on how brand consistency can help drive your company’s growth.]

We also found that brands with consistent presentation are 3-4 times more likely to enjoy excellent brand visibility than inconsistent ones.

This is the power of branding—the ability to improve organic search performance for your website and drive revenue growth for your organization. Try it on your page titles to see if it holds true for you, too.

Next steps

Ready to create compelling page titles?

  1. Create brand positioning statements for your high-priority pages.
  2. Incorporate your positioning statements into your titles.
  3. Track changes in click-through rates and rankings using Google’s Search Console.

Feel free to leave a comment below and tell us how it went.

Learn more about how brand consistency impacts your business in our free report.

Whether you’re a recently funded startup or a business that has been operating for years, building brand awareness will always be a top priority.

According to one recent study, 89% of B2B manufacturing marketers said increasing brand awareness was a primary goal for their content marketing tactics—edging out both sales and lead generation.

In startup marketing, in particular, brand awareness is everything. Think about it from the perspective of your reputation: you’re the new kid on the block, entering a crowded marketplace and trying to serve an audience with increasingly fractured attention.

You’ve got to do anything you can to stand out, and marketing is the best way to do it. But in addition to carving out a space in your industry, building brand awareness also brings an additional benefit: anticipation.

People won’t just take your word for it and immediately buy your product or service. They need to be convinced. If you can make them legitimately excited for the idea—if you can start before your product is even released and get them to mark “launch day” on their calendars—you’ll come out all the better for it.

Your brand’s image is long-lasting

Simply put, your brand is your promise. There’s a reason why studies estimate that 45% of a brand’s image can be attributed to not just what it says, but how it chooses to say it.

For a startup, creating an awareness campaign that both a) lets people know you’re coming and b) tells them what you plan to do when you get there checks the boxes of “brand awareness” and “anticipation” at the exact same time.

Remember that your brand is going to outlive whatever your initial offering is. You’re not just trying to sell today’s idea; you’re trying to sell tomorrow’s, too. You need people to stay with you long after they’ve made their first sale, which is why the “brand awareness” side of the coin is so important.

Anticipation builds momentum

To say you’ll be strapped for cash as a startup is quite an understatement. You’re living in a world where every cent counts.

Even so, people are going to need time to discover your product or service. If you wait until launch day to begin this process, you might get where you need to be eventually—but it’s going to take a lot longer. Momentum doesn’t just happen; it needs to build. If you time things right, you can make sure you hit your crescendo on launch day (or as close to it as possible).

Focus on creating visual marketing collateral that doesn’t just “engage” people but actually gets them excited. Build presentations and other visual collateral that contrasts their life before your brand and after it. How will the “after” be better? How will the “after” be easier? These are the questions you need to answer to build excitement.

Think about what you’re trying to do as a Venn diagram. The circle on the left is your product or service. The circle on the right is the daily life of your ideal customer. That space in the middle where the two overlap? That’s the sweet spot you’re trying to fill. If you can find innovative ways to communicate that in the run-up, you’ll make people aware of your brand and get them excited for your launch at the same time.

Guide the court of public opinion

Give your new followers a place where they can discuss what you and they have to say. Whether they’re responding to your launch campaign in a positive or negative way, you need to know what the general response is. Plus, there’s never a better chance to do some course correcting than when you hear feedback straight from the horse’s mouth.

In terms of brand awareness and anticipation, this also creates something of an echo chamber effect. After a certain point, excited customers become brand ambassadors and start spreading your message alongside you. This takes some pressure off your organization while customers do some heavy lifting for you.

Prime your audience

At its core, building brand anticipation is about priming your audience before you launch your business. It’s a strategy with two goals: let people know you exist and tell them how you’re going to change their lives.

Rather than wait until your product/service is absolutely perfect before doing any marketing, you should start thinking (and acting) on this as soon as you can. It’s far better to have a preemptive awareness campaign, even a small one, than to keep everyone in the dark until you’re “ready.”

Why? Because the dirty little secret of entrepreneurship is that you’ll never be ready. Your product or service will never be perfect. To think otherwise is a fool’s errand. Fortune favors those who boldly strike out where others are too scared to try. [Tweet this]

Instead, start building brand awareness as soon as you can. Today. Right now. Don’t just sell the product—sell the benefits your brand will bring. Then by the time your product is ready, your customers will be, too.

A good content marketing strategy should explain why a company is making the marketing decisions that it is. Anyone reading should see why content marketing is being used, why certain decisions are being made, and why the company wants the image it’s pursuing.

Unfortunately, since content marketing varies as widely as the brands using it, myths and legends about how to make it work still abound. With 70% of B2B brands planning to use content marketing next year, these myths will continue to spread into a new generation of marketing campaigns. That is, unless we marketers agree to let these myths go the way of Bigfoot and Nessie.

New to content marketing? Start off on the right foot with Lucidpress.

Let’s go viral! There’s this idea that the best way to market a brand is by latching onto an outrageous topic which will immediately grab the attention of anyone around. (Oh look, a shiny thing!) While interesting topics are undoubtedly fun, they’re not always a surefire win. Marketing topics should always coincide with the company’s message and values. Remember that trending topics rarely remain so, and one can quickly change from being adored to being annoying. Sigh—crowds can be so fickle. But setting smart goals for your content, whether it’s brand awareness or targeted selling, will help you keep the company’s mission as your North Star.

An example of doing this the right way? Our sister brand Lucidchart created this hilarious video about dogs (erm, that is, “doggos”) that is not only timely Internet humor—it also shows off what you can do with the product. In this case, the topic and the brand fit neatly into the middle of the viral Venn diagram, and the video has been a huge success.

Myth #2: Keywords are the most important factor

One particularly pervasive myth is that marketers should trust keyword data above all—even over the intentions of potential customers as shown by their search queries. In order for keywords to work at their best, they must be focused on the customer’s journey. SEO tools will only get you halfway there. [Tweet this]

Use keyword data to inform your content marketing strategy, not determine it outright. Think about why someone would search for a particular keyword—and what questions they have that aren’t being answered by existing search results. Match individual keywords to the different personas your brand targets so you can speak to the audience who most wants to hear what you have to say. All of this should lead to more interesting, relevant content that’s more valuable than simply writing about a keyword.

Note: Another myth surrounding keywords is that using them removes any creativity from writing altogether. Not only is this pretty lazy thinking—it actively undermines content writing as a means of marketing the business. SEO and content marketing should work together to support one another, and neither should become too dominant in your strategy. This leads us to our next myth…

Myth #3: All storytelling, no selling

Content marketing is a form of marketing (shocking, I know) which uses storytelling to draw in prospects and excite them about your brand, product or service. Around half of marketers admit to focusing more on the creative work than on measuring the results—which means they’re missing an opportunity to bring themselves into closer alignment with the needs currently driving their customers. You can tell great stories all day long, but if your audience isn’t being moved down the funnel, it does very little for your brand’s bottom line.

To an extent, content marketing can be considered a form of brand building. People often remember the content of a marketing campaign more easily and affectionately than they do the products and services on offer. This has contributed to the belief that storytelling is more important than selling, when in reality they should be equal. The content marketing should enhance your brand’s offerings—not the other way around. And speaking of brand building…

Myth #4: Content marketing is separate from brand building

We touched on this briefly in the previous section, but there is a pervading myth that brand building and content marketing are separate disciplines. In today’s world, they intersect. Brand building is accomplished through marketing; the specific nature of content marketing makes it even more useful to growing brands.

Brand building and content marketing are best mixed together because they build trust and good rapport between a brand and its followers, while simultaneously helping the brand become more visible and easily recognized. Combining the two results in consistently well-branded content that contributes to a brand’s image, reputation and conversion funnel.

Myth #5: Your content should only be hosted on your website

Content marketing can cover a variety of mediums and senses. However, many brands miss out on exciting possibilities and partnerships by keeping all of their work on their own sites. Podcasting, vlogging and guest blogging open doors to entirely new audiences who might not have interacted with your brand otherwise. You can even look for new channels to help distribute your content. For example, we’ve had success with a Lucidpress publication on Medium because it plugs us into active reading communities who are interested in our niche.

Key takeaway

Content marketing has become a popular branding strategy, but it’s still shrouded in a variety of myths which make it less successful than it should be. Toss these myths by the wayside and use these tips to connect with loyal brand followers and new audiences.

Ready to get started? See how Lucidpress can streamline your content marketing efforts today.

A friend of mine says she could not help but be swayed by what people were saying about the importance of social media for increasing sales. Some people kept rhapsodizing about how they were able to achieve rocket sales by establishing brand recognition and strengthening their brand’s presence in social networking sites.

So this friend opened an account on Facebook, created a blog, squeezed in a post here and there, and sent out newsletters to introduce her product—and generated no significant increase in sales at all. Why?

The truth about the use of social networking sites

My own research shows that I should not rely on luck to sell my brand—not even when I use social networking sites. I cannot expect mere presence in social networking sites to work magic and automatically land me great sales.

How can I successfully market my brand in social media? How can I increase customer conversion rate?

I looked into case studies and marketing research. I read up on what the technical marketing experts had to say. Here’s what I found.

Put your brand where your target market is

Alex Chris is an author and Digital Marketing Consultant. He is an expert in Internet Marketing and SEO. He says that based on updated surveys, Facebook dominates the social media scene today. A massive 1.79 billion people actively use the site monthly.

Alex says that you have put your brand where your target market is. With 60% of people on the Internet using Facebook, there is no greater tool to promote your brand, find new customers and gain a loyal following.

He suggests that you create an optimized Facebook page, add friends to your personal Facebook page, and get as many “likes” as you can. He suggests putting a “like” box in your website. You have to put this “like” box in a conspicuous, readily accessible spot.

Create relevant content

Alex and a great number of other marketing specialists, say that it is not enough to create social presence. You have to create high-quality content for your followers. If you are able to do this effectively, you have a greater chance of turning your followers into constant website visitors, and eventually to customers.

Connect with your audience before selling your product

Kristen Matthews is a creative digital strategist. As an influencer marketing consultant, she has worked on a variety of case studies with innovative brands.

Huggies case study highlights the need to create not just any content, but one that emotionally connects to your target market—even before you push your brand.

Speak, listen & respond to your audience

Brittany Berger heads the Content & PR Division of Mention.com. She says that when you send out newsletters as part of your marketing campaign, you speak directly to your target market.

Make your audience feel that you are listening to them. You create positive vibes when you respond as soon as you can to any queries or points that they want to clarify.

Do not be too promotional

When I create posts, I am representing a vision, specific objectives, and explicit principles. I am also creating awareness and recognition of my business brand.

I am not simply selling. I am informing and educating my audience.

If I become too promotional and focus exclusively on trying to sell my brand, people may see my posts as self-serving. I may lose my audience.

Online entrepreneur, writer, and founder of UpFuel.com Chris Guthrie agrees that you have to find the right blend of marketing and educational values. The right mix provides true value for your customers. It will also give you the opportunity to sell your brand.

Cater to your audience

I have a website on social media. I have a responsibility to my followers. I have to come up with content that has to do with my particular niche. I have to create posts that are engaging and useful to my audience.

If I want to maintain a loyal following, I have to go out of my way to share relevant posts in a variety of interesting ways that include written articles, videos, info graphics, images, and charts.

I want my followers to feel that they are important to me. If I send out e-mail, I have to respond to queries as soon as possible.

If I do not think my content through and create posts that do not offer anything substantial, I may end up hurting my business reputation instead of helping spark brand awareness.

In a nutshell: what to do

When you are able to do these, you will be able to generate more traffic to your website. You will be able to create a bigger following. And you will be able to enjoy a higher conversion rate.

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

Building a local brand is tough. Even if your business is in an area with significant foot traffic, developing your brand within the community is critical if you want to be successful in the long term.

Usually, when people talk about branding, they’re often referring to large companies with a proportional budget for their marketing strategies. However, brand building is essential for local businesses, too. It’s what will set you apart from your competitors and determine how your customers perceive you.

Luckily, to develop a local brand, you don’t have to break the bank. Here are five important tips to keep in mind for branding your small business.

Create local partnerships

Team up with other local brands, and make sure that your objectives align or complement each other.

If you’re unsure how to connect with other business owners, you can join local chambers or community service groups to expand your network, especially if you’re just starting out. Then, you can partner up for campaigns that promote each other’s brands.

Another way would be to reach out to local leaders of your community and help them where they are struggling. This gives your brand a social cause and shows that you value giving back to your community.

Simply put, building a trusted brand is much easier when you form connections locally.

Build relationships with the community

Small towns are all about building relationships and trust. If you show that you care about your customers—which you should, since public opinion of your brand can make or break your business—you’re more likely to earn their trust and, even better, their loyalty.

To make this happen, you should actively listen to their feedback, be responsive to messages and inquiries, tackle complaints as fast as possible, and resolve issues. All that is to say: provide excellent customer service.

Leverage social media

These days, if a brand does not have a social media presence, it may as well not even exist. It’s that important. Especially among millennials and the younger generation, social media is a must-have.

It’s also a great tool for promoting your brand to potential customers; let them get to know it, and show different aspects of it. Social media is one of the best ways to interact with your current customers.

You can use social media to show that your brand cares about its community by sharing any local news you think will be of interest to your audience.

Establish a local SEO presence

There’s no getting around it: SEO is one of the most important tools in a brand’s arsenal to generate new leads and develop awareness. Many of the searches people perform on their phones today are location-based—meaning they’re looking for businesses around them to meet their needs in that moment. Your brand should be right there in the search results, waiting to take care of them.

Investing in SEO can effectively build your online search presence and have a monumental ROI for your business. If you do it correctly, this can become a continuous source of new traffic and leads.

Some tips to optimize your website for local search:

Control your online reputation

Online reviews are an important ranking factor in local search. Perhaps more importantly, they influence purchase decisions. Businesses with a low star rating or a low number of online reviews are ofen overlooked by customers. Reviews also provide a valuable source of feedback as the business identifies potential problems and improvements.

Tips for getting more online reviews:

Give back

Giving back means different things for different people, but it all depends on what you can do for the community. For example, you can offer to mentor another business owner and show them the ropes, so to speak. Or, you can volunteer for a local program. Lucidpress has a team of volunteers that deliver Meals on Wheels each day to local seniors.

Another idea is sponsoring local events (e.g. farmers markets) or sports teams, which is an effective way of getting your brand exposed to many people in the same area—and building a positive perception of your brand.

Aside from the business benefits, doing good for the community is rewarding in its own way. It feels great to get out of your bubble and do something for others.

Be consistent

I love this quote from former Disney CEO, Michael Eisner:

A brand is a living entity—and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.

Your brand is being shaped every day by the thousand small gestures your customers (or potential customers) are getting from your company. A gesture might be an interaction with one of your employees, a post on your company’s Facebook page, or even a direct mail piece you send out.

If all these things contribute to building your brand, it’s vital to be consistent with each gesture’s message.

So, these are some essential tips to keep in mind if you’re looking to build a local brand. If you follow this list of advice, you’ll be one step closer to making your brand a success.

How to have more consistent local branding:

Tip #1: Establish brand guidelines.

If you don’t yet have brand guidelines, create them. If you do have brand guidelines, revisit them and make sure they are up-to-date.

Tip #2: Make your brand guidelines easy to find.

The issue at most organizations is simply that their brand guidelines are too hard to find. The best brand guidelines are useless if they’re too difficult to find.

Tip #3: Pick the right brand champion.

I’m curious: how would you answer this question? Who in your organization has the PRIMARY responsibility to manage and protect how your brand is used? Initially, I would’ve thought that, for most organizations, the designer or senior creative person has the primary responsibility to manage and protect the company brand. I mean, they’re the ones doing all that “branding stuff” all day, right?

In our survey, CMOs/CEOs won far and away.

If brand consistency is important to your organization (which it should be), primary responsibility for managing and protecting the brand should fall to the CMO or another member of the executive team. When senior management recognizes the importance of managing the brand, it sends a clear message to everyone that the brand is worthy of protection and investment.

Know the differences between local audiences.

This is all about knowing your customers. Once you know your different customer segments, you can understand the differences between them.

For example, if you own a car dealership and have one location in a more affluent neighborhood than your other locations, you might notice that the affluent buyers are looking for something different than the buyers at your other locations. Maybe they want to see cars with leather and sunroofs. Your marketing at this location should highlight these things.

Studies show that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day.

To break through the noise, your brand image should be powerful and to the point, like an elevator pitch—an quick and accurate expression of your key values, unique benefits and mission. Delivering it successfully has never been easy, especially if you work with tech brands, which can often be hard to describe succinctly.

Does this sound scary? Probably. Should that be motivating? Surely!

So what does a tech company brand consist of? What are the steps tech companies take to create a brand that reflects their values and appeals to their target audience?

We talked to 5 experts—startup founders, marketers and designers—about the answers to these questions and about their own brand-building experiences.

Here are the questions we asked:

Here are the insights they shared.

Markus Pirker, co-founder of Userbrain

Userbrain is a subscription-based tool that helps website owners, designers and developers improve their products by providing first-hand feedback from real users.

Before starting work on our logo, we made sure the whole team was aligned with our core values and beliefs. I don’t think you can create something as important as your brand image starting with the details like color choice—you have to work from inside out to create something authentic.

In the process of fine-tuning our core values, mission and vision, we decided to lead with the promise of effortless, ongoing user testing. This inspired the design and served as a baseline to assess the quality of different logo suggestions.

Tech company branding tips

We went through a couple iterations before we decided to go with the current logo. Past suggestions used additional elements, and we tried to narrow everything down to a very simple logo which could be used across different platforms without substantial alterations.

User testing is often regarded as a tool for experts only, which it really isn’t. If you get the basics right, testing your own product with other people will always deliver valuable insights.

There are already several user testing services out there using subtle colors and an enterprise-like look in their branding. As a startup, you always have to fight for attention, so we wanted to stand out by using bright colors.

Startup branding tips

The Userbrain iOS app icon

We used two different color palettes and paired the main colors of our logo with shiny, vibrant colors like orange and violet.

The vision of Userbrain is to help people build better products by bringing them closer to their users. This is something we wanted to reflect in our logo, with the two circles depicting users and customers blending together.

As in sports, continuity in testing your products is the secret ingredient of user testing. We really wanted to embed the idea of ongoing user testing in our branding.

We ran a couple of user tests on our marketing site to learn more about how people reacted to our branding and service in general.

We had several people mention that it was fun navigating around our site, and they captured the basic idea of our service within a couple of seconds, so I guess we got the basics right here.

However, our branding is always adapting to the new needs—I think that perfect branding is something that evolves over time—you can’t get everything right with the very first version.

Maybe this sounds a little counterproductive, but I’d advise startups not to worry too much too early about their own branding. Startups should focus their early efforts on getting something really minimal yet valuable out in front of people.

This is not meant as an excuse for bad design, but if your product provides value to people and is a clever solution to a real problem they face every day, they will overlook your crappy logo.

Expert branding tips

The old, quite simple, Userbrain logo

The Userbrain logo has been the word “Userbrain” written in Open sans and uppercase for the first year and a half, and we’ve had customers sign up with no branding at all.

The promise of our service is effortless and ongoing user testing. I think that our team did a great job communicating this idea in a simple yet effective logo.

Tim Sae Koo, CEO at TINT

TINT is a content marketing platform that allows brands to source authentic community content from social media, new and review sites, then integrate it dynamically into any digital channel.

New company branding tips

TINT’s logo is a powerful symbol that was designed back in 2012. It represents the connections between brands and their audiences. The intersecting lines resemble customer touchpoints and the circle that surrounds these connections represents our product, implying that these connections are the center of our product.

Warm red is our primary color. It’s meant to signify clearness and power—our brand essence.

The key message is meant to signify that we speak less and say more with design. We use simple and clear design that allows us to speak from the heart. We are direct, consistent, compelling and inviting. We are grateful. We are compassionate.

Brand identity design tips

Start with why you started the company, and translate it into a physical manifestation via logo and branding. The logo reflects our personalities, which stood as the baseline for creating our core company values.

Brand identity design experts

Hayley Snow, Marketing Project Manager at ContentCal

ContentCal is a simple tool to create, plan and publish compelling social media content.

Tech company logo design tips

Our logo was born from one of ContentCal’s core components: the approval flow UI. This UI consists of multiple dots on an axis, one for each step of the approval flow.

We started playing around with the concept of dots in a line in all different ways, then started to realize the potential in the idea. With some tweaks to its form, the graphic could morph into a line chart, process circle or share icon.

The flexibility of its form won over our team in an internal design critique. We developed the logo further to give it the form of a system, and after multiple iterations, the new ContentCal logo was born.

There are four brand colors used in our logo. The original UI colors in the ContentCal product were blue and “zing blue” (a very bright cyan), so these became two of the four colors used. We then added green and red, which are the ‘approve’ and ‘deny’ action colors within the product. So the logo looks like a system, and the colors are the ones used in that system.

Our logo doesn’t have a strong key message other than for it to represent our core values and to feel at home in the tech startup world.

General feedback has been that the logo works well in its environment, it feels associated with digital technology, which is definitely what we wanted to achieve. We also have great feedback about our logo being used at a large scale—for example, in exhibition spaces.

Startup logo design tips

My advice to a young startup would be to stay agile with your branding. Branding in tech startups is predominantly used online now, so there are more opportunities to tweak and adapt over time. I also would suggest not worrying too much about brand guidelines at an early stage. Your company should constantly be adapting and growing, and so should your branding.

We’ve made many incremental improvements to the branding both on our website and in printed documents. It’s always adapting, and I think this is the best approach.

Our core values are Flexible, Dynamic, Together and Consistent. Our whole brand is built around these values. As we grow, staying true to this will become more and more important.

Nick Kamyshan, CEO at Chanty

Chanty is a fast and simple AI-powered business messenger designed to increase team productivity.

Tech company branding expert tips

The idea was to make a dead simple symbol which clearly shows the letter “C” for Chanty and a dot in the middle to emphasize a human being in the center of information flow.

We decided to go for a high-quality logo and hired top-ten Dribble logo designers. After several months of their work and multiple iterations, our tests showed that none of the logo designs satisfied our target audience. Our founder and product owner was extremely frustrated with the low-quality results and came up with our current logo while on a plane.

We’ve tested a lot of color schemes, and it turned out that the color combination we chose is the most attractive to our target audience. It also has the highest conversion rate. I should highlight, however, that this color scheme is mostly used for marketing resources at Chanty, not for the software product.

Laconic is the exact word to describe the look and feel we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We believe that things should be simple. On top of that, laconic crystal clear designs are easy to remember.

New logo design tips

Experiment until you die or succeed. Find out which colors really work for your target audience by constantly testing different color schemes via various marketing channels (e.g. launching ad campaigns in Facebook).

Listen a lot. But don’t listen even more. Make discovery a part of your workflow. The more informed you are, the more confident you become.

Be unique, develop your own style, and go in a different direction than your competitors when it comes to branding.

Ksenia Levoshko, UI/UX Designer at Daxx

Daxx is a nearshore staffing company that helps companies hire talented developers.

Tech company branding is more than just the logo or color scheme on a website. The product or service a company sells is the foundational element upon which all branding is built. As your company’s offerings evolve, so should your branding.

The product I worked on consisted of several parts: a wearable device (bracelet or ring), an app, and a web portal. The wearable collected data on vital signs then transferred it to the app, which sent notifications motivating people to take action and pay attention to their health.

The primary objective of the project was quite ambitious: We needed to inspire users to change their behavior. As it turned out, the strongest motivator was the user’s desire for tangible, positive change and the use of personalized data.

That’s why we made a U-turn from a fear-based approach to a new, engaging one. We made it into a game, where at the beginning you see your current health state and set custom goals.

We used points to track users’ success and implemented badges and stickers as gamification elements. Each badge or sticker marked a small achievement that greatly motivated users and helped maintain their enthusiasm.

If you want to ask your audience about something, you have to give them something first. Early on, we asked our users for personal medical data and gave nothing in return. Now, we clearly explain why it’s necessary and how it’s going to change their lives for the better.

Understanding a user’s motivation is crucial. Once you realize what your users need, you can help change their behavior.

Key takeaways

Tech branding is not limited to logo design and a color scheme. Branding also includes the way a company communicates its values and mission, internal company culture, and customer relationships.

In an age of information overload, companies do their best to communicate brand messages as clearly as possible. This includes visual representation: as we saw, most experts prioritize simplicity—minimizing clutter and leaving only the key, nuclear elements that convey their message. Then, they make sure it’s 100% authentic and reflects their ideas and goals.

The experts also agree that designing brand elements is just the beginning of a long path—finalizing and polishing them requires a lot of experimenting and user testing. The branding process is never really complete. As a business evolves over time, the brand image should stay aligned by adapting to changing market requirements and business needs.

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

New to content marketing? Start off on the right foot with Lucidpress.

Want to super-charge your brand visibility? The best way is through great content.

Now, hear me out. I know you’ve probably heard the old phrase, “Content is king.” It’s a hackneyed aphorism, but it does give us a reason to chat about how brands use content to get ahead—and how you can follow those same practices to earn more visibility for your brand.

How brands use content to get ahead

The owned, earned & paid tripod

Another way of looking at content is through the trifecta of owned, earned and paid media. In a nutshell, owned media is what you put up on your own digital property or website. This is the first destination for the articles & feature content you generate.

Earned media is what happens when people like what you share, then re-share and re-blog it. Think of it as online word of mouth. Remember all those kitten videos that went viral? That’s earned media.

Paid media is fairly straightforward. It’s when you buy ads or pay to promote content. Google Banner Ads are an example. Most social platforms—like Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn—have tools where you can pay to promote your content and run ads.

Any cohesive content strategy usually has a mix of all three.

3 super-charging content tips

Now that we’ve described the playing field, let’s delve into a couple of playbook ideas on how to use content to boost brand equity.

1. Decide on a strategy

A single piece of content can’t be all things to all people. Decide whether you’re doing content marketing, authoring a thought leadership piece, or writing a press release for distribution. All these pieces of content have their own styles and best practices—and their own goals and metrics for success.

You also have to decide which types of content you’ll be creating for your campaign. There are many possibilities, and you can repurpose ideas across different content types.

2. Have a distribution plan

Content that just sits there in your owned media isn’t much use. It doesn’t boost your search engine rankings, it doesn’t attract more eyeballs, and it doesn’t increase sales. The trick is to turn that static block of words into a flowing river of shares and likes.

Most marketers have a handy funnel that they push their content through. You can start by posting on your own website. Then, the next step is to share on your social pages. Here, you might decide to give it a boost by paying for extra promotion. A day or so later, start submitting to content aggregators like StumbleUpon. Eventually, re-blog on social blogging sites such as Medium.

By following a planned distribution strategy, you’ll have a far better chance of turning your words into traction-grabbing content.

3. Figure out your audience

So you’ve got your strategy in place, and you know whether content marketing or thought leadership, or both, is the way forward. The next step is to figure out the audience you want to tap, and what they might be interested in. If your audience is composed of silver-haired retirees dreaming of Caribbean cruises, chances are they won’t read a blog about buying their first home. So, pick topics that are relevant, timely and valuable for your audience.

Use these techniques as you build your next content marketing plan, and you’ll have a far better chance of resonating with your audience and reaching your content goals. Make sure that everyone who creates content for your brand understands these concepts. Finally, ensure brand consistency with a tool like Lucidpress, which uses smart lockable templates to keep everyone on-brand.

Ready to get started? See how Lucidpress can streamline your content marketing efforts today.

Some businesses naturally lend themselves to sharp design. Walk down any street in a hip neighborhood and you’ll see fashion boutiques, cafes and gastropubs displaying beautiful branding. Stylish typography, trendy color palettes—the kind of design that creates an enviable brand image.

When it comes to the service brands of the world—your plumbers, HVAC, pest control, any “man-in-a-van” type of business—design and branding are often an afterthought. The service comes first.

After all, there’s nothing cool about getting your drains snaked or having rat traps set up. Service brands don’t cater to a specific set of people the way a bar or boutique does. They sell a skill that everyone needs, not another form of self-expression. Beyond providing the best service possible, it’s hard to find ways to differentiate yourself from all the other service brands out there.

The result? Barebones websites, a lack of stand-out branding, and an endless supply of boring marketing materials. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, investing in some simple branding & design can help your business stand out from the pack.

Why: The market is crowded

Service businesses, particularly in major urban areas, are incredibly competitive. A search for “plumber” on Yelp in Chicago will yield more than 2,000 results. In New York, that same search turns up over 6,000 results. Local plumbing businesses, nationwide franchise networks, and general service companies are all competing for the same work.

In a market that’s so incredibly competitive, you need a way to stand out from the crowd. When you ask a service brand what makes them unique, and how they’re different from competitors, you tend to get answers like “We’re really knowledgeable and honest with our customers.” Which is probably true. For them and just about everyone else.

That’s a great business model, but it doesn’t captivate the imagination. Before you can display your expertise, you have to get someone’s attention—and tradesmen, not being particularly design-focused, often overlook that the path to new revenue starts with awareness.

If your business has a bland website with sparse information, and you’re driving a white van in a city full of service vans, trucks and dispatch cars… how are you standing out? If you’re mailing brochures to potential clients, what saves that brochure from ending up in the trash?

In order to thrive in these competitive markets, you need to capture that initial attention. Marketing alone isn’t enough—you can drive visits to your website all day, and you can mail a flyer to every homeowner in town. On average, you have 8.25 seconds of their attention. Do you really think someone is going to look at a white-and-blue website that says “We’re trustworthy!” for more than 8 seconds?

Probably not. But then, how do you do it?

How: Color, design & user intent

So now, let’s welcome design back into the picture. We need it to capture the attention of potential customers, to stand out from the 2,000 other plumbing businesses in Chicago. But service brands don’t always have graphic designers—or even the budget to hire one. It’s tough to even know where to start.

Color

Design

User intent

When: Right now

It’s easy to put off projects like updating a website, improving flyers or repainting trucks. But, the sooner you can develop strong branding, the better off you’ll be down the road.

For many service businesses, winter represents downtime, which offers the perfect chance to brush up on your design skills and revamp your brand’s image. Imagine starting the next busy season with the right collateral in place to drive more sales. It’s within your grasp, and easier than you think.

See how Marq makes it easy to create attractive, professional marketing materials—no expert design skills required.

Many marketers want to step into millennials’ shoes, find out their preferences & dislikes, and speak to them in the best way possible. Despite being skeptical of advertising, millennials are fiercely loyal to brands, which gives you a unique opportunity to reach them. Content marketing, one of the newer tools in a brand’s arsenal, is leading the way.

The connection between content and brand loyalty was established by MBC Research. The results of its study revealed that 62% of millennials feel that content drives their loyalty to a brand.

Millennials are among the biggest consumers of content online. Take Nielsen’s Q1 2016 Total Audience Report which shows that, in the U.S., content consumption by millennials can shoot up to 18 hours per day. Yet, that doesn’t make it any easier for marketers who want to target this demographic that can be split into as many as six distinct types.

So, how do you encourage this demographic to engage with your brand? Here are 5 top content tactics to help you get started.

1. Rev up the nostalgia

Nostalgia works wonders for the millennial generation, as we’ve seen in the case of Pokémon Go and its phenomenal success. Another example: Disney resonates intimately with millennials because it runs high on emotion. They feel connected with the brand because it was a crucial part of their years spent growing up. It was nostalgia, too, that generated 14 million views for Netflix’s reboot of the 90s sitcom Full House.

You can infuse nostalgia to amplify your own content by:

2. Forget text, embrace multimedia

A study from August 2016 shows that the leading social media platforms for millennials were Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. All three of these thrive on images, videos and multimedia content. Yet another survey showed that millennials communicate better via GIFs, emoji & stickers than via text. [Tweet this]

Brands like Starbucks and Nike are forerunners in creating multimedia content that engages millennials. They use trending formats like Instagram Stories to build brand affinity using micro-content that disappears after 24 hours.

3. Personalize, personalize, personalize

Personalization works for everyone, and millennials are no different. Start with curating your content.

“Personalized and timely content recommendations are one of the most powerful ways to make your leads stay longer on your website and recall your brand at crucial times. Bloggers and large content publishers vouch by predictive recommendations for awareness, reach and engagement (as opposed to ads).”

Jeff Bullas

Personalization requires in-depth research and careful coordination between content creators, technical marketers, automation specialists, customer service and more. While personalization is subjective, the core of your brand messaging and values should remain uniform across the board. A project collaboration tool like Workzone or Trello can keep everyone on the same page. If team-oriented tasks are disorganized, personalization can quickly turn into a mess.

4. Let influencers do the talking

According to Nielsen’s Millennials on Millennials report, this group is distracted. They’ll easily find ways to avoid advertising when given the chance. In fact, they’re more likely to depend on word-of-mouth and social media. Enter influencers.

Social media influencers can help you spread the word about your brand. This tactic can give you an edge over traditional advertising, because millennials trust influencers more than they trust ads. Also, influencers can come up with interesting content that you might not have thought of—as demonstrated by the Clorox brand Brita. Teaming NBA superstar Steph Curry with King Bach, a social media influencer, Brita generated an ad for YouTube that earned 2 million views and led to a 2,000% mobile search lift.

5. Encourage user-generated content

In contrast to baby boomers, millennials are more likely to trust user-generated content. Be it a status update, review or blog post, they take everything into consideration to form an opinion. For example, if someone’s considering a particular shade of lipstick, they’ll likely look at swatches and reviews posted by their peers and other users, rather than trusting the experts.

One way to generate user content is experimenting with branded hashtags. From KFC’s #NationalFriedChickenDay to Oreo’s #OreoHorrorStories, good hashtags can work wonders for brand awareness. It might take some innovation, but finding a winner is well worth your time.

Key takeaway

Millennials are going to remain a favorite demographic of marketers for the near future. Keep up on the latest tools, techniques and channels emerging on the market, and use them to propel your content and brand engagement.

Learn how Lucidpress can streamline your brand’s content marketing and keep your whole team on the same page.

Engaging followers on social media to boost your brand’s popularity is a fine art. Undoubtedly, your audience is spending a sizable chunk of their time on social, but there are way too many things competing for their attention there.

If you don’t want to simply get scrolled past in the news feed, you need a better social media strategy. And to build one, you need to experiment with different techniques. Today, we’re going to take notes from the pros. Here are 5 social media hacks to get the right people to notice your brand, engage with your content, and share your posts.

1. Starbucks—Involve your audience in your campaign

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, what if you could share your product’s best pictures on Instagram… by getting your followers to do it for you? That’s exactly what Starbucks has done with a host of seasonal hashtags.

How to accelerate social media engagement

Source: Instagram

Starbucks constantly encourages followers to share their photos and, over time, has built a very active community of coffee lovers. They post their photos, and Starbucks shares the ones they like best.

As a result, the photo-taker gets attention and accolades, reinforcing the positive affinity they have for the brand. And Starbucks gets to spread beautiful pictures of their product that drive more engagement with their content.

You too can explore this option, starting by building a small community of users who love your product. Invite them to share pictures of themselves using your product, and watch how a win-win game can score points both for you and for your audience.

2. Just Eat—Hashtag your giveaways

Giving away freebies isn’t exactly a groundbreaker in business strategy, but there’s a better way to gain maximum impact. The food delivery app Just Eat nails this practice. It’s constantly running themed contests and food giveaways that ask users to tag their friends, send in entries, and generally join in the fun. As a result, for every item given away, Just Eat earns a great deal of traction and puts people in just the right mood for ordering food. #FindYourFlavor#JustEatUK and #StrangerThings2 are just a few examples.

How to accelerate social media engagement

Source: Twitter

3. Lyft—Start a conversation

“While rival Uber is an efficient delivery service, Lyft is seeking to differentiate itself by offering a combination of ‘humanity and technology.”

Kira Wampler, Lyft CMO

Lyft crafts its social media strategy in that same vein by posting customer reviews, messages and conversations on their Twitter page. It aims to establish an identity as a warm, friendly taxi experience that nurtures relationships and cares about every single passenger. In fact, fantastic customer service has been Lyft’s calling card from the start, so playing it up on social media is a smart, brand-consistent move.

How to accelerate social media engagement

Source: Twitter

We all want to do business with brands that make us feel special. [Tweet this] Forming personal relationships through conversation is basic human nature. You too can try exhibiting your warm, personal side by sharing users’ comments and conversations on your profile.

4. Pokémon Go—Roll out teasers before major updates

Pokémon Go brought augmented reality gaming to the masses and attracted a huge fanbase in very little time. However, with shrinking attention spans, the initial excitement could’ve fizzled out quickly if they didn’t find ways to keep the buzz going.

Fans of Pokémon Go are treated to small doses of upcoming excitement through a regular cadence of trailers and teasers. The anticipation for new levels, more items, and higher scores is enough to make fans look forward to playing every update, making it one of the highest grossing games ever.

How to accelerate social media engagement

Source: Facebook

If you have a major update coming out, tease your followers with alluring clues, images and videos. This will keep the excitement alive until the update is finally out.

5. Angry Birds—Have a little fun with games

Angry Birds has been on social media since 2009, and from the start, their team has infused their brand’s personality with the fun of gaming. They are constantly running fun contests, posting fan artwork, giving away extra lives, and adding a light touch of humor to everything they post.

Plus, it’s not just your typical “share to win” giveaways. Contests come with clues and incentives to lure people into downloading the app. Riddles, puzzles, cryptic images and poems, it’s all there to keep users tuned in. Sometimes all it takes is a little fun and games to keep your audience engaged.

How to accelerate social media engagement

Source: Twitter

Wrapping up

Now you have 5 tried-and-tested strategies straight from the pros. These techniques can be adjusted and applied to nearly any brand willing to experiment with creative flair. The idea is to build connections and foster relationships with your users so you become part of their social lives. Try one (or more!) of the above tips and see how your audience responds—you might be surprised at your success.

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

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.

In a stressful world, it’s no wonder that people are drawn to the idea of “wellness.” According to The Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry grew by 10% to $3.7 trillion between 2013 and 2015-while the global economy shrank by 3.6%. It’s one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, and as we move through 2018, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

For those in the wellness industry (and aspiring startups), this is both good and bad. Consumers are more aware than ever of the benefits of good sleep, a good diet and activities like yoga, and they’re seeking new ways to improve their health and productivity. Along with this increased awareness, however, comes the fact that wellness brands must fight for attention in an extremely competitive market.

Even a small glance at Instagram is enough to illuminate the ubiquity of food and fitness gurus. So how can you, in a market that’s perhaps best described as “visually noisy,” give your brand the best chance of standing out?

Determine your brand’s visual strategy and be consistent

We all understand the desire to get your brand out there, and it’s natural to want to jump straight into social media to put your brand in front of as many people as you can. However, there’s huge value in taking a deep breath and considering your content strategy.

The reality of modern marketing-much of which takes place in the digital realm-is that you have to create far more content than businesses had to in the past. For example, you might decide on:

That wouldn’t be an unusual workload, and it sits on top of all the ongoing work you’re already doing. Not only that, it needs to be compelling and engaging for your audience. Add to this your print marketing, website design, and everything else you have to consider, and you are looking at a huge amount of content.

It’s easy to see how you can lose consistency and quality control without careful planning and brand guidelines, which is where a platform like Lucidpress can help keep everyone aligned. Just ask brands like Bar Method and Club Pilates:

So where do you start?

Of course, defining your brand strategy is easier said than done. It helps to look at what else is out there. You’ll likely fall into a certain sector of wellness-like fitness, diet, alternative therapies or life coaching-each of which has its own norms that can be surprisingly hard to move away from.

Many fitness brands are overtly masculine with a palette of striking primary colors, photos of sweating brows and ripped abs, and a “no pain, no gain” mentality. Others take a gentler approach. Aspirational images of yoga performed in stunning landscapes is everywhere; you’ll often find it accompanied by encouraging language which values self-esteem and “finding yourself.”

Meditation tends to be pastel-shaded and broadly spiritual. Food brands are fresh-faced, brightly lit and often obsessed with avocados. None of this is bad, of course, and some elements may suit your brand perfectly. The trick is to incorporate inspiration from other brands while avoiding imitation and finding your own particular voice-and avoiding clichés as much as possible.

Don’t be afraid to show personality

One common theme in the wellness market is a tone of earnest sincerity. While it’s vital that you do sincerely believe in your product and its potential to improve the lives of others, one way to stand out from the crowd is not to let this fact prevent you from showing a little personality.

For example, try not to be too high-handed and “guru-y.” As an expert and leader in your field, your authority on these subjects should be clear. Being friendly, personable and letting some humor shine through won’t detract from this. Social media has changed the game for brands; being strictly professional is unlikely to catch anyone’s attention.

The visual language you use for your brand can be as fun, interactive and enjoyable as you want to set it apart from the dominant and blandly perfect images of “clean” living. Be public with your personality and enthusiasm for your brand and product.

Use science, don’t abuse it

One accusation often leveled at the wellness industry is the flippant and misguided use of scientific language in order to substantiate dubious claims. This can seem rather unfair, but unfortunately, a few high-profile cases have helped cement this view.

What’s especially unfortunate is that there’s so much legitimate science to back up the benefits of wellness practices. With a little effort, it’s easy to avoid the traps of bad science.

Don’t maintain a social presence just because

It’s a near-fact of modern branding that you have to be on social media. However, a brand can get so busy that their social media presence becomes a half-hearted nod to the power of these platforms. This doesn’t mean you should shut down your branded accounts, though. It just means you have to think about them a little more.

The best place to start is to consider your own social media use. What motivates you to follow certain accounts? Why do you take the time to engage? If you look at your content and can’t find a reason why you would bother to like, comment or share it outside of your professional life, then it probably isn’t going to interest anyone in your target market, either.

Social media isn’t just a platform on which to post a series of promotions. A hard truth that every marketer has to swallow is that most people hate ads. What they do appreciate is being entertained, learning something new, or finding information relevant to them. With this in mind, before posting something to social media, consider whether:

The world of wellness is by no means oversaturated, and there’s much to be said for brands who want to provide people with tools and knowledge that will profoundly improve their lives. By finding your unique voice, your brand will naturally stand apart from the crowd.

See how Lucidpress’s cloud-based brand management software can streamline your creative process.

How many advertisements do you remember fondly? Probably not that many, considering we’re bombarded with content on a daily basis.

But the ones you do remember seem to creep into your subconscious. It’s like a catchy song that you can’t help but remember.

Good visual content has a lot to do with psychology. Appealing to human emotions will influence people to react to your ad a certain way.

Corporate Executive Board did a survey on this in partnership with Google. They contacted marketing leaders, vendors, consultants, and over 3,000 B2B buyers to understand the rise of emotion-driven content marketing.

In their report From Promotion to Emotion, it’s revealed that 86% of buyers believe that brands are all selling the same stuff. Unique value propositions are not turning out to be… not so unique. But, brands that connect with customers on an emotional level will see 2x more impact than those trying to sell based on functional value alone.

If you’d like to tap into that influence, here are 7 emotions that drive people to connect with brands—and real-world examples of each.

1. Urgency

Even when your customers want your product, they can still be hesitant. Maybe they feel like they can buy from you any time, so why spend money now? Later, they say, later.

This is when you need to infuse a bit of urgency. Add a timer or an expiration date in your email newsletter or video ad, and buyers will take the cue. No one wants to miss out on a good deal.

Using urgency in an ad

Source: McDonald’s

Big retail & e-commerce brands use urgency (tick-tock) to promote instant consumer action or purchase decisions. However, make sure you have a good reason for incorporating urgency in your offer. For example, countdown timers are often used for festive occasions or limited product runs.

Urgency even works better when you pair it with scarcity. Use phrases like “limited stocks available,” “limited tickets,” or “first come first serve.”

Using urgency in an ad

Source: 4YFN

A similar psychological catalyst is FOMO. Fear of missing out is a social worry that if you don’t participate in time, you won’t be able to enjoy the same rewards other people are reaping. One study reveals that around 69% of millennials experience FOMO when they can’t attend a popular event. You can use that fear to your advantage.

2. Desire

Desire is a powerful emotion. Almost every action we take and purchase we make is driven by desire. Many brands channel desires into their visual ads to capture an audience’s interest.

One way to do this is through before-and-after images. Olay took this concept even further with their “Identical Twins” campaign, where one of the twins uses the product and the other does not.

Using desire in an ad

Source: Olay

But, before-and-after images don’t have to be about skin care or weight loss products. Check out this GIF, for example. SiteFlood creatively uses the before-and-after concept to show prospects what kind of results their service delivers.

Using desire in an ad

Source: SiteFlood

Similarly, most explainer videos use a “problem-and-solution” format to identify prospects’ needs, then provide a solution to help them fulfill that desire. This video explores the desire to live in the Caribbean, the problems one faces to achieve this, and the solution.

At Lucidpress, we used the same animated format to introduce our brand management platform—complete with white knights, bodyguards and Mama bears.

3. Compassion

We’re social creatures, and that’s frequently reflected in our behaviors and reactions. We care about our family, our friends, and even random strangers. Doing something for others makes us feel good.

Thai Life Insurance produced a series of heart-warming videos that showcase the sentiments of altruism and care, even in adversity. In the end, it’s wrapped up nicely as part of the brand message.

Attaching your brand to feelings of love, care, attachment, altruism and charity can give your visual content a strong emotional pull.

4. Delight

Humor provides more delight than almost any other emotion, but it can be difficult to pin down and execute well. You must know your audience and their sensibilities, so you don’t end up missing the mark, falling flat, or even offending them instead of making them laugh.

Old Spice has perfected the art of appealing to its demographic in a variety of fast-paced, cinematic ad campaigns. It’s delightful, humorous and exciting to watch.

5. Personal care

Advertising is everywhere, and it rarely feels like an ad is speaking directly to you. In this constant deluge of content, personalization is valued more and more. If you want my business, make me feel special. Show me that you care.

Starbucks is no more “special” than any other coffee brand, but they show their patrons that they care. It’s a brand synonymous with warmth, comfort and convenience, and it’s easy to make it your own.

Starbucks personalized cups

Source: Tumblr

Starbucks proves that it cares about the individual experience by providing a casual meeting space, a work environment, a place to relax, free Wi-Fi and other comforts. Perhaps more importantly, they ask each customer for their name and write it on every cup of brew they order.

In some ways, Starbucks has come to resemble a hospitality brand without actually being one, simply by extending a comforting personal touch.

Introducing customization or personal touches to your brand can make you far more appealing to your audience, because they will feel special and cared for.

6. Trust

Your customers have their own personal tastes, values and opinions. Likes and dislikes. Movies or music that they love or hate.

It turns out that personality will largely determine a customer’s shopping behavior. They buy products and experiences that either reinforce their personality or help them get closer to who they want to be.

So it stands to reason that if you associate your brand with a celebrity they like (or want to be like), that would give them a reason to trust in your brand and buy from you.

Using trust in an ad

Source: Nike

This is why brands hire celebrities and influencers to drive brand awareness and adoption.

The idea here is to create an image your target customers will like or aspire to. Do some research on who your customers are (or who you want them to be). Once you’ve sketched out a buyer persona, including their likes and interests, you can solidify brand messaging that speaks to their personality and values—and earns their trust.

7. Motivation

Participating in social causes you believe in can be very gratifying. But, that gratification often comes from harrowing personal experiences, or at the very least, a visualization of others’ worst experiences.

CoorDown, an advocacy group for people with Down syndrome in Italy, made a beautifully profound video featuring people with Down syndrome delivering their own messages of reassurance to a future mother who’s worried about what kind of life her child will have.

The video is a rollercoaster of emotions that culminates in the promise of a happy, fulfilling life.

Find a cause that speaks to your brand values or to your employees. You can draw on personal experience or the hardships of others to create stories that inspire hope and motivation for your audience.

Key takeaway

Emotions are fundamental. You don’t need a PhD in psychology to figure out what makes people tick. You just have to do some research on your buyers. Draw up a buyer persona, then create visual content that will resonate with that audience.

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.

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

Okay, so you’ve recently made the conscious decision to focus more of your energy on creating content with the hope of collecting more leads.

As an avid devourer of content yourself, you’ve seen a ton of other brands leverage content to generate massive amounts of buzz for their companies.

You’ve heard the success stories and statistics. You know content marketing can drive in 3x as many leads as traditional marketing—and it costs businesses 62% less than traditional methods, too.

So, you decide to give it a shot. You spend hours creating a number of insightful and informative blog posts that you know your target audience will find valuable. You post them on your site, sit back, and wait for the new customers to start rolling in.

But… nothing happens. Those blog posts? Nobody’s reading them. Or—and this might sting even worse—people are reading them, but it hasn’t made a lick of difference to the size of your customer base.

In either case, it can be incredibly disheartening to realize your efforts haven’t paid off as well as you thought they would. On top of that, figuring out where you went wrong can be rather difficult, which may lead you to throw in the towel on your content marketing initiatives before they even get off the ground.

Before you throw your hands up in resignation, though, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons many content marketing campaigns fall short of their intended goals.

4 content marketing mistakes that may be costing you leads

Before we dive in, let’s admit that the true list of reasons a given content marketing campaign could fail is inexhaustible. Because so much goes into content marketing, Murphy’s Law can rear its ugly head at almost any given time, for many different reasons.

For our purposes, though, we’re going to discuss some of the overarching mistakes and problems that could sabotage your content marketing campaign before you even get started.

Not focusing on your true purpose

Presumably, your goal is to generate more leads (and eventually more sales) by publishing intriguing and informative content for your audience to devour.

But have you really thought about how creating such content will actually lead more people to purchase your product?

Traditional PR vs. content marketing

Source: 87 seconds

The only thing worse than seeing no increase in your visitor count is seeing an increase in your visitor count but no increase in your sales numbers.

As you begin creating content, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that your purpose is to create awesome content that leads your readers toward conversion. It can be easy to slip into a routine of churning out pieces of content that, while interesting and informative, simply don’t do anything to move your readers further along the buyer’s journey.

Solution:

Ask yourself the following question before you begin creating any piece of content:

How will this content benefit my reader and bring them closer to conversion?

It’s essential to keep in mind that content is not your product; it’s part of your marketing plan. [Tweet this] While the content you create absolutely should provide value to readers, it should also provoke them to take action and engage further with your brand.

For individual pieces of content, you might aim to get your audience to sign up for a mailing list, follow your brand on social media, or share the article they’ve just read. Depending on the context, you might ask them to sign up for a demo of your product. While such calls-to-action are typically found at the end of a piece of content, they can also be placed within the content as appropriate.

Over a longer series of content, your goal is to build your readers’ understanding and curiosity about your brand and the services you provide. As this article from Copyblogger points out, you can use content to create “open loops” in your readers’ minds that essentially keep them wanting more—meaning they’ll look for ways to engage with your brand that ultimately may involve making a purchase.

Always remember that your main goal is to have them come away from your content closer to converting than they were before they read it.

Writing for a mass audience

As the old saying goes:

“If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.”

Unfortunately, when getting started with your content initiatives, it’s tempting to create content that you believe will appeal to your entire consumer base at once. In doing so, you end up creating content that is either:

In either case, the result will almost certainly be the same: your potential customers will bounce from your content without taking the action you hoped they would.

Content-centric vs. audience centric

Source: Content Marketing Institute, lovingly recreated in Lucidpress

Solution:

First things first, make sure you’ve developed a variety of personas to target. Find out as much as you can about the people who belong to these segments: their demographic and geographic data, their personality types, and their actions and behaviors as consumers.

Once you’ve defined and developed a number of customer personas, you can begin planning content intended for each of them (rather than using a “one-size-fits-all” approach).

While this means you’ll be creating more pieces of content, you’ll ensure each piece of content will resonate with its intended audience.

You can make sure the right content gets in front of the right person in a few ways:

Focusing on one content format

Typically, when most people hear the phrase “content marketing,” they automatically think about blogs.

But there are many, many more types of content out there for you to choose from.

Diversify content types

Source: iPullRank, lovingly recreated in Lucidpress

Content marketing is the act of using content to market your brand. With that in mind, the following are just a handful of content types that you can leverage for marketing purposes:

Simply put, sticking to one type of content is a good way to bore your audience. No matter how valuable your blog posts may be, your readers will likely get tired of them at some point if you don’t change things up a bit.

Solution:

Your first order of business is to determine which formats will best engage your audience.

Some individuals devour podcasts on a daily basis during their morning commute, while others would rather read an eBook while relaxing on their couch at night. Still others might not have the time to devote to these ventures and would prefer to get quick-hitting information via infographic.

As you do when figuring out what your audience wants to know, it’s also important to determine how they want to receive this information.

Even though you’re going to create content in a variety of formats, that doesn’t mean you need to create completely new content for each. In other words, you can repurpose content you’ve previously created and present it through a different format.

You’ll definitely want to tweak the content so it fits its new platform, but generally speaking, the meat of the content will remain the same. For example, when repurposing a blog post into an infographic, you’d typically include only the hard-hitting facts and statistics mentioned in the article (leaving out the “discussion” parts).

By repurposing your most successful content in a variety of formats, you can give the piece maximum exposure across the customer segment it was intended for.

Not following up (or through)

In the intro, we set up a hypothetical scenario in which a content marketer creates a handful of blog posts, publishes them, then sits back and waits for business to start booming… and it never happens.

A big mistake many marketers make when starting out with content is living by the old adage, “If you build it, they will come.”

It just doesn’t work that way. With over 2 million blog posts being published every day, the chances of new readers just happening upon your content are practically zero.

But, even assuming you do generate some traffic to your new content, you still haven’t succeeded yet, and you can still miss out on major opportunities. Another mistake beginner content marketers make is failing to engage with their audience members after they’ve reeled them in. They also miss out on the opportunity to not only nurture these individuals through the buyer’s journey, but to learn more about their needs.

Solution:

The solution here is two-pronged.

First, focus on promoting your content. There are a number of ways you can do this, including:

Once you’ve gained some visibility and have begun seeing audience members engage with your content, don’t let them go. If they’ve left a comment on your blog, keep the conversation going; if they’ve shared your content on social media, shoot them a quick “thank you”; if they seem to be looking for more information, give it to them!

Technically speaking, once your content has attracted a potential customer, it’s done its duty. But the work you put into this content will be for naught if you don’t follow up with the lead as soon as you possibly can.

Key takeaway

It’s no secret that content marketing can be an effective way to attract highly qualified leads that have a good chance of converting. This is, in large part, why 92% of companies view their content marketing efforts as a business asset.

But if done haphazardly, your content marketing efforts can lead to nothing but wasted time, energy and money.

Before you dive into your next content marketing campaign, keep in mind that the purpose is not just to create amazing content, but to create amazing content that ultimately leads your audience toward conversion.

Learn how Lucidpress can streamline your brand’s content marketing and keep your whole team on the same page.

Are you emotionally connected to a particular brand? Maybe it’s the design of its packaging. Maybe it’s the colors they use or the shapes that remind you of something good. Maybe it’s the smell of the store. When you go into a small fragrance boutique, you’re mesmerized by a unique scent that sticks in your memory. Whenever you decide to buy perfume in future, you’ll prefer going to that specific store.

Why does this happen? When you understand the psychological theory behind the human senses, you’ll realize why sensory marketing is so important. Our senses are our connection to the outside world. Our brain interprets the messages they send and forms its perception of the world in accordance with those interpretations.

Marketers can implement sensory experiences to make their campaigns more effective. With sensory marketing techniques, you lay the foundation for a positive brand impression. Let’s see how our senses influence our perception of a brand, so we’ll understand this approach a bit better.

1. Taste

Unless you own a restaurant or coffee shop, this is the sense you can influence the least. However, taste can still become an important aspect of your marketing strategy. For example, if you’re promoting an Italian brand of jewelry, you could organize a cocktail for your most faithful customers where you serve Italian gelato and wine. These tastes will remind people of the Italian lifestyle, and they’ll see how your jewelry fits in.

The sense of taste can deeply influence our memories, emotions and moods. A savvy marketer will find ways to use that fact to the campaign’s advantage.

2. Sound

You already have experience with sound affecting your perception of a brand. When you dine in a fancy restaurant, you want slow, calm music in the background, right? When you’re at a nightclub, the music that’s being played affects your experience. When you enter a store, the music can make you feel energized or relaxed, depending on the selection.

But it’s not limited to in-store experiences. Daniel Monroe of BestEssays explains how sounds are important even for online services: “The element of sound was crucial when we were designing the live chat. We didn’t want our website visitors to be disturbed, which is why the live chat is never activated without their request. When they drop us a message, however, they surely want to be notified when the agent sends a response, so the sound has to be noticeable yet subtle. It has to create a sense of urgency without making the website user nervous.”

Think: what behavior are you trying to encourage in your target audience? What kind of music would promote such behavior? Once you answer this question, it becomes easier to implement music and sound effectively in your brand experiences.

3. Touch

The sense of touch also influences our behavior. Research has shown that touching rough or smooth objects has an effect on our decisions. Hard surfaces, for example, evoke the impression of firmness, stability and security. However, they also impose a sense of strictness. They might be great for offices or banks, but you’d want to include a bit of softness in a store that sells products for kids, right?

Many brands neglect the sense of touch in their campaigns, mainly because they’re selling products that already have a particular structure. The way you design the packaging and space around the products, however, will have a huge effect on the brand experience.

4. Sight

This is probably the sense that affects our brand perception the most, since we first see a product before involving any other senses in the experience. That’s why brands invest so much effort and resource in visual content.

When you’re presenting your brand to the world, advertising and packaging have a huge impact on audience perception. This effect is heightened when all your branding is consistent and cohesive. Posters, social media posts, flyers, newsletters and other promotional materials should all share a similar design and color scheme. After all, those colors are rarely chosen by accident.

For example, when we’re trying to evoke optimism, warmth and clarity, we often reach for the color yellow. Orange is cheerful and fun (like Fanta), and red is bold and exciting (like Virgin). Blue evokes trust, strength and dependability—think Dell and HP. Green is peaceful and symbolizes growth and health, which is why you’ll find it in the logos and marketing of many environmentally friendly or healthy lifestyle brands.

5. Smell

Have you ever wondered why brands like L’Occitane and Lush sell their products in specialized boutiques? It’s because their marketing campaigns are based on the sense of smell, and they don’t want their scents being diluted by other products in the store. When you get to the Lush store, you’re so mesmerized by the smells that you simply cannot leave without a new bar of soap. That’s how powerful scents can be.

Even if your brand is not related to scents, you can still benefit from sensory marketing. Researchers found that the smell of chocolate can boost sales in bookstores. They observed the behavior of the customers and concluded that when the bookstore smelled like chocolate, people were more engaged with the staff and the books. They looked more closely at books, read the summaries, and lingered in the store. That’s not a coincidence.

The smell of chocolate is comforting and inviting. It’s no wonder why many real estate agents like to bake something in the kitchen before showing the property to a potential customer. They also make sure the property is clean and smells nice in every room.

Just as a pleasant scent promotes better behavior, an unpleasant odor will have a negative effect. If the store is dusty or smells funky, it won’t matter how awesome your brand and products are. The smell will distract visitors from taking the action you want to encourage.

Key takeaway

Our senses have a major impact on our purchasing decisions. Sensory branding is a well-established practice in some industries, such as cosmetics and food. However, brands from all other industries can benefit from this approach, too. Which sensory marketing techniques could you take advantage of in your next branding campaign?

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.

In 2014, Marketing Sherpa published a report on customer acquisition costs (CAC) in e-commerce. According to this report, the median CAC is somewhere between $12 to $25. These costs add a lot of overhead to your business. If you’re a low-margin business, like most e-commerce stores, high customer acquisition costs can sink you fast.

One way to bring CAC down is by building a bigger brand for your business. Branded e-commerce stores attract a lot of loyal customers. Such customers tend to shop several times throughout the year and are instrumental in improving profitability.

Let’s take a look at some strategies that can help e-commerce businesses establish themselves as a brand.

Establish stringent brand guidelines

The first step in the brand-building process is to establish stringent brand guidelines. These guidelines must include parameters like the “tone of voice” used in your messaging, logos, color palettes, fonts, photography style, and so on. Basically, it should cover anything used in your marketing materials.

To establish better brand equity, it’s important to accomplish two specific objectives. First, invest in building a style guide that will set you apart from the competition. This includes picking unique fonts and colors that aren’t common in your industry. You could also invest in creating unique image filters that will give your photos a distinct identity. Second, follow these guidelines across all your marketing channels: social media, website, TV, print and any other form of marketing.

A good example of this is Frooti, an India-based fruit juice brand. Although it’s not strictly an e-commerce brand, you can see that all their visuals adhere to a brand philosophy that includes flat design and a limited color palette.

Frooti on Instagram

Source: Instagram

The reason this works is because your target audience tends to associate these visuals with your brand. This contributes to better recall and builds loyalty over time.

Pro tip: Lucidpress has a template-locking system that can help you adhere to brand guidelines consistently. Read more about it here.

Find your competitive advantage

There are many factors that contribute to an e-commerce sale. One of the most powerful ways to establish a brand is by identifying one factor where the rest of your competition sucks and mastering it. For instance, if you’re in a niche where the leading sellers take at least a couple days to ship, you might invest in overnight shipping. Alternatively, if all your major competitors charge for shipping, you could choose to offer free shipping.

This is exactly what Zappos did to establish themselves as the online shoe seller of choice. CEO Tony Hsieh realized early on that customers tend to have unique tastes for shoes, and in order to succeed, they’d have to make the return process ridiculously simple. The company provided its customers with prepaid return shipping labels that they could print for free returns. In doing so, Zappos outdid all competitors and established the most well-known brand in online shoe commerce.

The reason this works is because doing something better than others gets noticed by customers who then associate your brand with it. [Tweet this] In addition to bringing word-of-mouth publicity, this strategy also gets your customers to return for future purchases. While such strategies can cost a lot of money, they also help to establish a brand name and improve customer loyalty.

Know your customers’ values

Learning your customers’ values means building a relationship with them that goes deeper than just producer/consumer. When people recognize and trust your brand, it’s because they see their own values reflected in it.

One of the easiest ways to learn about your customers’ values is simply to ask them. You could do some informal research on social media (or your blog) by covering certain topics and testing the engagement. Or, you could be even more scientific by conducting surveys and focus groups to learn more about the audience you’re pursuing.

After you’ve done this research, look back at your company. What do you already do that’s aligned with the values of your customers? These are the messages that will ring out the loudest.

When you can back up what you say with what you do, people will trust you and be drawn to your brand. [ ] Begin by looking for the values you already share with your target audience, then find ways to embody the others.

Know your brand story

For as much as things have changed in the world, people still love a good story. Whether it’s the story of a hero, an underdog, or simply the shared challenges and pleasures of the human experience, a good story moves people’s hearts and minds.

Every brand out there has a story—every one. The challenge is to share that story in a way that’s authentic and relatable. It might take some time to discover the best way to communicate your story to your target audience.

Start by zeroing in on your company’s purpose, or more specifically, the problem you solve. Let’s consider an example.

Say you manage an e-commerce brand that sells eco-friendly furniture and clothing. What’s your story? In short, you provide people with comfort and security in an environmentally friendly way.

But there’s something larger going on: climate change and the movement to address it. Your role in this global story is to meet people’s basic needs at a significantly lower cost to the environment. Your brand creates better harmony between humans and the earth, and people who care about the planet will want to help your cause.

In this example, your story represents and exemplifies your brand’s values. Positioning your brand as an environmental activist, or as a lover and defender of nature, will help you connect with your target audience. This powerful brand image comes from digging into the story, bringing to light what it really is.

L.L. Bean is a good real-life example of this. It started with a man designing his own pair of boots to make it easier and more enjoyable to walk around outside. But the larger story is about humanity’s love of nature. Through this narrative lens, you can easily recognize L.L. Bean’s brand. This is no coincidence.

Of course, your history might not be as deep as L.L. Bean’s, but it’s still meaningful. Take some time to find the best way to communicate your story, and it will clarify and reinforce your brand in the eyes of your customers.

Investigate influencer marketing

When it comes to ecommerce branding, customer trust is heavily influenced by the testimonials and referrals your business receives. Influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to impact trust. This strategy involves hiring niche influencers (that is, social media users with thousands of followers in your industry) to spread the word about your brand.

Success with this marketing strategy relies on how targeted your influencers are. It’s a good idea to start small and reach out to influencers who have small audiences of less than 10,000—such influencers cost less and have a highly targeted audience.

Measure the impact of such a campaign and use the lessons to deploy larger campaigns. While partnering with large influencers outright might seem like a good idea to scale fast, these influencers appeal to multiple demographics and are thus not as targeted. The conversion rate from such campaigns tends to be lower.

The reason influencer marketing works is that prospective buyers tend to associate the credibility of the influencer with the brand they endorse. This makes it a much quicker way to establish a brand presence than growing your followers organically.

Pay attention to content authority

A typical customer goes through several stages of research before they land in your store for a purchase. Your store could miss on some real branding opportunities by not investing in content that the prospective buyer uses for research.

So, why is this important? First, it helps establish your brand as an authority in the industry. Customers trust authority sites which they return to for future product research. A comprehensive directory of articles could potentially make your website their “go-to” source.

It also provides your brand the opportunity to shape readers’ opinions and nudge them towards products in your store. Additionally, a comprehensive content directory helps your business rank better in Google searches, which reinforces your brand authority.

One of the best ways to do this is called the pair-up strategy. Essentially, marketers are advised to create a comprehensive content page that’s mapped to each of their product pages. Prospective buyers land on this central page during their research phase and are nudged toward the product pages through the content.

Key takeaway

Building a brand for your e-commerce business is an investment, but it’s one with dividends. By enforcing brand guidelines, finding your competitive advantage, and influencing buyers with great content, you’ll lower customer acquisition costs and develop an impressive reputation for your brand in the process.

Where to go next? Learn more about building & managing an online brand in our free eBook: How to build your brand in 2020

A well-designed website is a valuable investment that will generate revenue for your business—but 38% of people say they won’t explore a site if they find it unattractive. If your website hasn’t been updated in a while, your web design could unintentionally be hurting your business by turning people away at the door.

If it’s time to refresh your website, we’ve put together a list of 10 website design best practices and coupled them with the do’s and don’ts of great web design. Follow these best practices as you update your site.

1. Target audience

Always keep your target audience in mind. Your point-of-view, as a professional, might be very different from that of the user. Pretend you’re visiting your website with fresh eyes. Walk through the user’s journey as they explore different pages. Focusing on this experience will help you create a user-friendly website.

Good design addresses the target audience with a brand personality users want to engage with. Check out this website, Crypton. It’s designed ideally for a tech-savvy audience.

Crypton homepage

Source: Crypton

Parallax scrolling heightens the user engagement here, but you don’t have to include parallax functionality on every website. Research your buyer personas and use design elements, functions and colors that make your target audience feel right at home.

Websites that don’t rank well on Google and other search engines have very little chance of breaking through the noise. As you update your website and add new pages, make sure you’re following the most recent SEO guidelines. Your page titles, meta descriptions, and content are all important players in driving better search signals.

2. Layout

Have you seen websites that look like rows of boxes—all different sizes and arranged haphazardly? Would you spend more than two seconds sorting through it? Probably not. That’s because cluttered websites are visually confusing; the viewer doesn’t know where to direct their attention. A well-organized layout, on the other hand, guides the viewer where you want them to go.

So, where do you want your visitors to go? It depends on the purpose of your website. An e-commerce site will drive visitors to purchase, while a SaaS site might drive visitors towards a demo or a free trial. Whatever purpose your website serves, make it the focal point of your homepage.

The first things that attract a visitor’s attention when she lands on your homepage are the headline and call-to-action. Not the contact info, articles or product specs, but these two elements. For this reason, the more action-oriented your headline and CTA are, the higher your chances of success rise.

CTAs are designed to incite an immediate response from a customer. That’s why clear, concise CTAs are more effective. One software company reported that their site’s conversion rate increased by 106% after it got a makeover that included a clear, direct call-to-action.

3. Color scheme

Using too many colors will make your website design clash. Colors have strong psychological impact, and they will affect a viewer’s opinion of your brand. If you’re unsure how many colors to use, the rule of thumb says your design should not use more than three colors. If you’re working with a brand palette, you might be able to use more, as long as you balance them well.

Your website’s colors should reflect the brand, complement the content, and visually delight viewers. [Tweet this] Avoid selecting random colors just based on what you like. Instead, think about the brand and its users. If you have a primary color but don’t know how to make color schemes, you can use an automatic color scheme generator to help fill out your palette.

4. Text placement

Just like the layout, you don’t want the design to be cluttered with text. If you have long-form content on the website, create a clean, spacious design that divides the content into readable chunks. You can do that by adding ample white space, using images, and creating proper flow.

If your pages are easy to scan, you have a better chance of luring readers to the bottom. Attention spans are short online, but if you can make your content easy to absorb, readers will get more value from it. In addition to high-quality writing, use headings, bullets, quotes and blocks to emphasize the essentials.

Potential customers are less likely to enter their contact information or make a purchase if they suspect that your website is not secure or trustworthy. Communicate your trustworthiness by featuring customer testimonials, case studies, reviews, security badges and your privacy policy. Make sure your contact information is easy to find so visitors know they can reach you. All of these signals will help you establish trust and credibility as a reputable brand.

Use compelling language to convince and show readers how your brand will add value to their lives or resolve their problems. What benefits can customers expect to enjoy by making a purchase or signing up for your service? What features make your products better than what your competitors offer? If you can excite your visitors with your value proposition, you will see your conversion rates improve.

5. Search & navigation

Everything on your website should be easily searchable. Whether it’s the sign-up form, the “About Us” page, or your contact information, readers should not have to spend more than a few seconds finding it. To make things even easier, include a search box so people can find things that don’t align with the page’s primary focus.

If your site requires users to sign up, use colors to make the navigation simple. For instance, if your navigation headers are blue, make your sign-up button green or some other color. Organize your content into categories that users can browse if they like. You can also organize content on various hub pages.

With good UX, your website tells the world that you think clearly about the end user. See Crunchbase’s website; its UI is done beautifully. There’s the search bar on top if you want to explore specific results, or you can click the menu on the left side to browse sections that interest you.
 

Crunchbase homepage

Source: Crunchbase

6. Fonts

A website that uses five different fonts loses users in seconds because it takes too much effort to read. Too many fonts on the screen can make a website look chaotic and unprofessional. The ideal number of fonts is three: one for main headings, another for sub-headings, and the third for the body text.

Font size has a huge impact on legibility. It’s important that they’re neither too big (taking up half the page) nor too small (uncomfortable to read). The sizes of your fonts should reflect the importance of each element. For example, section titles and taglines are more significant than the body text, so they’re bigger. This helps readers scan the content, too.

7. Images

Too many images will crowd out your message, so use them sparingly and impactfully. Remember, search engines can’t read images very well, so don’t rely on them to convey text. If you’re using a background image, keep it under 1 MB. Large images slow down your site’s loading time.

People think visually, which is why images are so effective. Feel free to use images in your web design, but find ones that are visually attractive, high resolution and not pixelated. Make sure the images you use reflect your brand’s personality. Don’t forget that you can also use textures and gradients to add visual appeal.

8. Mobile compatibility

57% of mobile users won’t recommend a website that’s not optimized for mobile. More people are browsing and shopping on mobile devices, and they expect websites to provide great mobile experiences. Invest in responsive or mobile-first design so you don’t miss customers during crucial moments.

It’s not enough for your website to look good on mobile—it needs to be fully functional as well. Give your mobile users the tools to get things done, such as product search, store locators, service details, and more. If you can seize these opportunities, you won’t lose customers who are searching on the go.

People are not patient, and slow-loading webpages will almost certainly lead to a higher bounce rate. If your page takes longer than five seconds to load, it’ll frustrate your visitors and give them a reason to search elsewhere. To increase the loading speed of your webpages, consider removing any nonessentials, such as videos or large images that take extra time to load. Compressing images will also reduce loading time. Finally, utilize browser caching for storing cached versions of static resources to speed up your pages significantly.

9. Conventional vs. unique design

People are used to certain structures and formats on the web. This familiarity makes it easier for the brain to absorb content and make decisions. Your visitors shouldn’t have to be detectives to figure out who you are and what you offer. The power of traditional web design is that users will understand what your website is about with a single glance.

Your above-the-fold section should do the job

A Nielsen study says the majority of your website visitors will spend 80% of their time above the fold. That’s the section you see without scrolling—call it the opening screen.

The best websites explain what they do in this opening screen. A general practice is to use a headline (think your company’s tagline or mission statement), followed with a brief subtitle text describing your services or products. Top it off with a CTA button to direct visitors toward the next stage in your conversion funnel.

Airbnb does this brilliantly; the headline is the CTA. While there’s no subtitle text, their call-to-action is strengthened by a slideshow of awesome travel photos. Just beneath the headline, a search bar is intuitively placed. The example text in the search bar encourages interaction.

Airbnb homepage

Source: Airbnb

It’s very frustrating for users to have to move all the way to the top or bottom of a page to navigate the site. What many websites have now are floating menus: menus that move along the top or side of the screen as you scroll, making navigation a lot easier.

AMD, a giant in the computer hardware business, uses floating “share” buttons that visitors can use to share the content they find interesting across a variety of social sites like Twitter and Facebook. This helped AMD drive a whopping 3600% increase in social sharing, as more and more people found and shared their pages.

Still, you do want your brand to stand out from the crowd. Be creative, and use elements that make your site unique without disrupting the flow of information. Whether you experiment with moving images, video, or other design elements, try different things and monitor the results. You might be surprised what works.

10. Test it out

Once you’re done designing the site, test it to make sure everything is working correctly. Use multiple devices to navigate your website and see if it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. A user’s experience can vary depending on device type, internet browser, and location. Try to recreate different scenarios so you can catch any bugs or performance issues before they do.

A successful web designer needs to think like a CEO as well as an artist. This will help you view the website with business strategy in mind. Critical evaluation will give you a site that looks good, is user-friendly, and helps the business reach its goals.

Ready to design? Try Lucidpress today to create professional, compelling graphics for your brand’s website.

Marketing is getting tougher and tougher—there’s no doubting that.

With 41% of brands planning to significantly increase their marketing budgets this year, and customers becoming choosier than ever, you wouldn’t be alone if you’re exploring new techniques to get more out of your marketing cash.

One strategy you should consider is SMS marketing, the process of sending short text messages to your ideal customers in an attempt to engage them with your campaign and get them to convert.

Even though average open rates for SMS messages beat email by a whopping 28%, your real estate company sells homes for a large price—unlike small-ticket items that can be purchased on a lunch break.

So, how can you make text message marketing your biggest driver of website traffic, leads and sales?

Here are the five steps you’ll need to build out your mobile real estate marketing strategy, as well as two brands who are already killing it with their text messages.

1. Determine who you want to contact

Just like any marketing strategy, you’ll need to base your mobile marketing campaign on buyer personas—a clearly defined document that lists details about your ideal customer.

For real estate companies selling student accommodation, that might include:

Once you’ve got this to a T, you’re left with a bunch of shared interests. Use this information to find the people you want to target with your text messages.

2. Collect their information

The next step in your real estate text message marketing strategy is to collect the information of the people you’re targeting. You can do this by taking advantage of your other marketing strategies.

For example: why not run a Facebook ad, using the details you defined in your buyer persona, to encourage them to fill in a form? (You might need to offer an incentive to do this, such as a free ebook or a guide to purchasing a new home.)

But once you’ve got their information, don’t push the Send button just yet. You’ll need to have explicit permission from your prospect before sending an email, or you could land a hefty fine—and an unhappy buyer.

3. Choose an SMS marketing platform

While purchasing a new phone to send out your new messages is a great way to get started, it’s wise to invest in an SMS marketing platform from the outset.

That way, you can:

Platforms like Text Local, Text Request and Textedly can help with this, just to name a few.

4. Select a text messaging schedule

Gotten to grips with your new software? Awesome! It’s time to make a start on your text messaging schedule.

You’ll want to put some thought into the time of day you’re messaging your potential buyers, and the day of the week they’re being delivered.

Why? Well, because texting your customer at 11pm could frustrate them—they’re likely to be asleep. However, sending an SMS message at 5pm could reach your customer when they’re on their daily commute with time to respond.

Find the perfect schedule by referring back to your buyer personas and filling out a daily routine for them.

Remember: You want to push your messages at times they’re unlikely to be busy—and have time to invest into their search for a new home.

5. Perfect your messages

Before rushing off and sending the first message that comes to your head, take some time to think about what you’re actually sending. You don’t want to send 10 messages only to find a spelling mistake, right?

Use key copywriting principles to make your sales messages as effective as possible, and focus on replicating your ideal customer’s language.

Going back to our example of student accommodation, this example:

“Ready to let your hair down at this years’ Homecoming? Make sure you’ve got somewhere safe to call home. Reply PARTY to find five local student dorms near Stamford from just $200/month.”

…would be much better than:

“With stunning high ceilings and low-interest mortgages, find student accommodation near Stamford to help with your studies. Reply YES to opt-in.”

Why? Because it’s avoiding the overused jargon that would push them away and making your real estate brand feel more relatable.

2 awesome examples of real estate companies using SMS marketing

Ready to make a start on your SMS marketing strategy and see tons of new leads roll in?

Here are two awesome examples of real estate companies nailing their text message marketing strategy to provide inspiration for your own.

1. “Text for more information”

Earlier, we listed collecting your potential buyer’s information as a key part of your SMS marketing strategy.

…But, what if you could collect their information by asking them to hand it over in a way that suits them?

This real estate company used this idea on one of their “for sale” signs, asking potential buyers to text a number for more information on the listing. It’s a fantastic way to personalize the texts you’re sending—and make sure you’re only focusing on people who are actually interested.

mobile real estate marketing

2. Asking for more information

Another fantastic way to engage your potential real estate buyers through text is to ask them for more information, based off the data you’ve already got from them—like this example:

mobile real estate marketing

But, why does this work so well?

Well, the prospect doesn’t feel like they’re being contacted by someone out of the blue. They’ve mentioned previous information that’s already been shared (the choice of neighborhood), while asking for more in a way that prompts a response.

Key takeaway

Once you’ve made a dent in SMS marketing for your real estate company, we’re confident you’ll soon see a boost in new inquiries about your properties.

However, don’t forget that it may take some time to see results from your text message marketing strategy. Collecting customer information and perfecting your message can take a while, but don’t give up—you’re almost there.

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

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.

Like every other industry, real estate has experienced rapid change due to new technologies. Perhaps the area that’s felt the most impact is marketing. It’s imperative to keep up with how it’s evolving to stay ahead.

Although direct advertising methods are still popular in real estate marketing, they’re not the only way to help consumers change their minds. That’s where influencer marketing comes in.

Word-of-mouth is no longer limited to meeting people in person; it’s expanded to include social media, too. Influencer marketing in real estate aims to draw in potential clients with content they’ll find engaging and valuable. Here are five influencer marketing strategies your brand can try.

Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook

Facebook offers ample opportunities for influencer marketers to connect with audiences organically. For example, you have personal pages, business pages & groups, all of which can provide multiple touchpoints.

There are various content options, such as photos, blog articles and videos, through which you can engage potential clients. Facebook posts that get the most likes are creative, genuine and have your brand’s personality written all over them.

In addition, Facebook is proven to be a brilliant tool to expand your database and sphere of influence. Personal interactions, even a simple birthday wish, are a great way to reconnect with clients and remind them you’re available.

Work with a combination of influencers

Many brands make the mistake of pairing up with the wrong influencers. Not every influencer will work for you, so it’s best to realize this early on. Influencers can usually be divided into three categories: mega-influencers (celebrities), macro-influencers (well-known), and micro-influencers (niche).

To determine which influencer would be right for you, you need to define your target audience. Are you looking to attract families and professionals? Perhaps millennials? People tend to follow influencers that represent the lifestyle they hope to achieve.

Many real estate brands choose a variety of influencers to maximize their reach on different platforms. The best influencer would be the one who’s most relevant to your campaign and can reach the most significant potential audience.

Be creative with video marketing

Video marketing, today, is a force to reckon with. Video marketing stats show 84% of consumers choose to buy something after watching a video and, by 2020, 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video. Compared to content that’s text-based, video has proven to be very effective and is perhaps the biggest trend for content marketing this year.

What does it mean for real estate brands? Well, it means more creativity. Audiences aren’t interested in the same old content anymore and are looking for something that’s authentic and hits home. Videos seem genuine, are fun, and add a degree of reality to the business.

A brilliant example of video marketing is Bedrock Real Estate’s “Anthem of Us” to encourage purchases in the Detroit area. The award-winning video starts off with a voiceover by rapper Big Sean (a native of Detroit) and highlights its culture and, most importantly, its people.

The video employs the use of a mega-influencer and multiple micro-influencers, a combination that hits the bullseye. Big Sean’s voiceover would be not worth sharing if it weren’t for the local people & businesses whose promotion led to the video going viral. The micro-influencers played a massive role in the campaign gaining ground locally, so if you’re aiming for a regional campaign, then local influencers might be more effective than international ones.

Build long-term relationships

With the growth of influencer marketing, the demand for influencers is at an all-time high. The number of brands getting in on the game has led to a rise in cost. In the past, brands could get away with free products as a form of compensation—not anymore.

Today, brands have to invest more time and effort in working with influencers. Once you’ve built a healthy relationship, you can ask them to promote your content. Perhaps the best way to get a referral is to make your influencer a client and have them share their own positive experience with their followers. There’s nothing more impactful than a genuine review.

Invest in Instagram

Last year, Instagram ranked as the best platform for influencer marketing campaigns. There are over 800 million users using the app every month, and that number is still rising.

Influencer marketing is likely to cross $2 billion by 2019, and Instagram is the best platform to use for brands and influencers alike. Its visual nature inspires you to get creative with your content and grab the attention of your target audience.

The best content on Instagram doesn’t just flaunt your product; it flaunts your personality. Don’t just post pictures of luxurious houses—post pictures of what makes it a home, too. How about a dog in the backyard? Or people enjoying food at the open house?

Influencer event marketing, in particular, is gaining momentum and is something you should start thinking about. Host an event and invite people with large followings to attend. The influencers are then responsible for creating engaging content that will drive awareness for your brand.

Instagram influencer marketing

Source: Instagram

For instance, look at the photo above. Isn’t it gorgeous and fun? Would you believe me if I told you it’s from an open house in Los Angeles and the woman in the photo is an influencer?

The open house was set up in the most Instagram-worthy fashion and encouraged social media sharing. These real estate professionals understood the importance of making open houses seem less like what they are and more like a fun, eye-catching event that’s worth telling your friends about.

Key takeaway

Influencer marketing can boost your brand awareness efforts and be a valuable addition to your content marketing arsenal. The right influencer and the right platform are bound to set you on the road to success.

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.

Before the rise of social media platforms, marketers relied on evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that’s always interesting, valuable or relevant to readers.

In contrast, ephemeral content is content that’s designed to last for only 24 hours. Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live are all examples of places to post ephemeral content.

The psychological concept of FOMO (the fear of missing out) makes ephemeral content great at increasing customer engagement.

Here, we’ll discuss how you can take advantage of FOMO to build your brand with ephemeral content.

Why should brands create ephemeral content?

When Snapchat came to smartphones, many people didn’t get it. What was the point in making a video or a photo that would disappear?

At that time, content creators focused on creating evergreen content to capture the interest of readers and stand the test of time.

Although evergreen content lasts, ephemeral content offers a sense of exclusivity. If you miss it, you miss it for good.

By making content ephemeral, you can keep your audience on its toes. They don’t want to miss out, so they pay attention. And on the internet, attention is king.

Large brands are already taking advantage of FOMO with their content. In 2016, an estimated 21% of BuzzFeed’s total traffic came from Snapchat views. As of 2018, Instagram Stories has an estimated 400 million users.

If you don’t get in on this trend soon, you’ll be the one who ends up with a bad case of FOMO.

How to use ephemeral content effectively

Ephemeral content offers unique ways to engage an audience. There are several different strategies you can use, depending on your preferred platform. Here are a few of them.

Reach out to your users and make them feel special

First, you have to reach out to your users. There are two good ways to do this: remarketing and influencer marketing.

If you’ve already established contact with your users, you can try remarketing. Use remarketing to announce new products, sales or discounts on products or services they’ve bought before to keep your audience engaged.

If you haven’t reached your audience yet, you can tap influencers to attend expos or invite-only events. Provide opportunities for them to take great pictures and try out your product. These influencers can then share their experiences with your brand via their social media accounts.

Keep in mind that not all fans have the clout or money to go to these events. Instead, you can give your regular users a “sneak peek” that not only makes them feel special, but also makes your brand feel real and authentic.

Be authentic and humanize your brand

Speaking of authenticity, one of the things that makes ephemeral content attractive is that it feels more real. However, to do this, you first have to know who you are and what you want to do as a brand.

According to Shopify, putting to paper the intangible facets of your brand (e.g. principles, philosophies, etc.) “should provide an ample introduction of why you’re in business, why you’re different, what you have going for you, and why you’re a good bet if you’re asking for an investment.” These will give you a guide for how to appear more authentic in your social media posts.

But, it’s not enough to know who you are and why. You also have to run your brand in line with your identity. When you have an identity and stick to it, it’s reflected in your content. Users like seeing employees at work behind the scenes—or real people using products in their own way. Take advantage of this and show users the unpolished side of your brand.

Keep your audience on its toes with live video

Live video is one way to show your audience that you’re authentic. But aside from that, it hooks them immediately.

When you use live video, your users are the seeing it at the same time as everyone else. According to Facebook, users spend up to three times more of their time watching live videos than non-live videos.

Here are a few ways to use live video:

Facebook Live is a popular platform for live video streaming. If you plan on using Facebook for your live videos, make sure you know when the best times are to go live so you can get the most engagement.

Get your users involved with a call-to-action

In the end, you want your users to do something. That’s why you include a call-to-action.

With ephemeral content, the call-to-action is usually a link to a landing page. Because ephemeral content doesn’t last forever, you need to make your CTA clear and concise.

Make sure you tell your audience exactly what you want them to do. “Click this link!” and “Swipe up!” are good examples of clear calls-to-action.

Best platforms for ephemeral content

Now that you have an idea of how to maximize ephemeral content, it’s time to decide which platform to use. Each platform has its own features and user base. Here’s a short breakdown of three popular platforms.

Snapchat

Snapchat is popular with younger users, so you should consider Snapchat if they’re your target market. Snapchat uses Snapcodes, which are QR codes users can scan to follow brand profiles. Snapchat also has geo-filters, which can be used for time- and location-sensitive events or promotions.

Facebook

Facebook has a huge user base that’s varied in demographics. If you plan on integrating ephemeral content with a brand page, Facebook is the way to go. Facebook Stories gives users a way to enjoy ephemeral content without clogging up their newsfeed. It also allows you to supplement your ephemeral content with posts on your main page.

Instagram

Instagram has a huge user base. In 2017, Instagram Stories had more than 200 million daily active users, a number that’s doubled since then. If your brand is visual in its marketing style, Instagram is worth a look. You’ll be able to supplement your photo feed with Stories. Instagram also allows in-story links, making calls-to-action easier for users to follow.

Key takeaway

Ephemeral content is a trend that isn’t going away soon, even though these posts only last for 24 hours.

If you’re looking for a new way to engage your users and keep them interested, ephemeral content is something you should think about. Are you already using ephemeral content? How is it working for your brand? Show us your favorite examples on Twitter by mentioning @lucidpress.

Why did you start your business? We’re pretty sure it wasn’t because you wanted to sell one product every blue moon, or because you don’t care about the services you provide.

Let’s be honest: We all want to make a difference, and we want to be recognized for delivering exceptional experiences. Without a positive reputation built on genuine feedback from satisfied customers, you can wave goodbye to local or worldwide recognition.

You’ve probably noticed that bigger brands tend to have this nailed down. You see that red-and-white logo and instantly recognize Coca-Cola, or that blue background and yellow text belonging to IKEA. Even those multi-million-dollar brands had to start from somewhere. How on earth do you create something memorable—something that a customer will recognize and trust right away?

One answer is product packaging. Packaging is the first thing someone will notice on a shelf or when they receive a delivery to their home. The more they relate to it, the more likely it is that they’ll purchase or recommend it to others.

However, before you reach stardom, there are several ways to increase the chance of getting noticed. From the way you speak about your brand to how you package your products, here’s how to tell a memorable brand story.

Write your story early on

Before you get too far in with your products, button up your brand story. Keep in mind that a business is generic and faceless without its history, values, mission, vision and personality.

To refine the story you’d like to convey to the public, ask yourself some of these questions:

Once you’ve answered these, it’ll be easier to focus your brand story—and that story can inform the choices you make with product development and package design.

Give your product a persona

Don’t think of package design as just a way to deliver your product. To truly convey a message, a story or a brand identity through your product, you should think of it as a person. That’s right, just like in marketing, you’re creating a persona—but this time, it’s for your product. This is where brand personality comes in.

By thinking of your product as a person, it’ll be easier to design packaging that reflects the brand personality and resonates with your target audience. Potential buyers will notice that authenticity and gravitate toward the product before they even realize what it is. They’ll know that it’s been designed for them.

Colors draw in the customer

Without color, the canvas is blank. A customer won’t look twice at your product if it doesn’t stand out to them in the first place.

Think about what feelings you want someone to get from your product. Should it make them feel like having fun, like a quirky craft beer? Should it make them feel cared for, like a health-related product? Make a list of how you want your product to make customers feel, and find ways to translate that to your packaging.

It can be easy to match colors with feelings: calming blues, bright yellows, passionate reds. A customer could be drawn to a certain color, depending on what they’re looking for. Colors can help you convey your brand identity, as well.

Who is your audience?

As with any form of marketing, keeping your audience in mind throughout the process is a must. Who will buy your product, and what product packaging will appeal most to that particular audience? Think about colors, shapes, sizes—even the wording on each individual product’s package.

Customers often read the text on a product to reinforce their purchasing decisions in their minds. [ ] For example, younger audiences prefer brighter, eye-catching colors with quirky shapes and blocky fonts. Older audiences who purchase luxury products prefer colors like black and gold, combined with elegant fonts and sophisticated language. It’s all about knowing who you’re selling to. Once you do, the rest will come far more easily.

Delivery boxes

No matter the size of your business, it’s not only important to have great product packaging on the shelves. When a customer makes a purchase online, they should feel the same excitement for their delivery as they do for the product in the box.

Depending on the size of your business, you might need to batch-order boxes for delivering your products. Businesses often need extra help to meet customer demand. BCS box-making machinery can help to create quality, durable boxing that makes an impact.

Consider sprucing up your boxes with custom-branded stamps, tape and delivery labels—as well as adding extra protection for your product inside each box. Think about padding, branded freebies, and money-off coupons as ways to encourage repeat purchases from your customers.

Logos & graphics

If you’re not including your logo and other branded imagery on your packaging, how do you expect a customer to know it’s you? When people see a familiar logo, they know almost instantly whether they trust that business enough to buy the product.

Graphics, although not always brand-specific, can often make or break your product packaging. If you’re selling healthy products, you’re more likely to succeed with a green, leafy design. Think about what works, and use a bit of common sense to gauge how you want the product to come across.

Product blurbs

Your brand story is important. So important, in fact, that many businesses make space on their product packaging to write a little about how their business started. Other companies write about their values, such as Lush and their natural, eco-friendly approach.

You can probably think of a few other examples of brands who do this well—which means they’re doing things the right way. The care and effort you take here will pay off when customers remember your story and take it to heart. Shoppers will appreciate an attractive design with an inspiring blurb more than one with a cut-and-dry description. Don’t forget that it’s often the packaging of a product that sells it, not just what’s inside.

Don’t over-design it

It’s easy to succumb to this temptation. In trying to make a product the most eye-catching or unique, some companies over-complicate the packing design. Sometimes, these products luck out and sell well, but they do little to build or reinforce the company’s brand.

Don’t get too carried away with embellishing your packaging designs. Stick with simple, clear concepts that your audience will easily understand. Often, it’s the most simple and well-thought design that wins out in the hearts and minds of customers. [Tweet this]

Be consistent

According to famous designer and author Robert Brunner, “Everything you do creates the brand experience. Ergo, design is your brand.”

Just as it’s important to maintain brand consistency in your marketing, it’s important to design product packaging that’s consistent with your brand’s identity and values.

We’re not saying you should slap your logo on everything. But you do need to design concepts that reflect your brand—concepts that could be informed by the logo, typography, color, etc. Even if your product doesn’t share the aesthetic characteristics of your brand, it should feel congruent with its values.

Invest in packaging

Don’t underestimate the power that packaging design can have on your brand. Because your packaging often sparks the first connection between a customer and your product, it’s often the first experience they’ll have with your brand.

On top of the time and money spent on product design, you should also carefully consider your packaging. Design packaging that stirs up emotions of excitement, joy, delight or amazement. Once you’ve created packaging that instantly connects with your customers, your brand awareness and recognition will benefit.

Key takeaway

An effective brand will help sell products and attract customers. If you want your customers to get excited about your new products before they’re even announced, build a strong brand using these concepts.

Bonus: Product packaging infographic

Want a few more tips and pointers on the importance of product packaging? Check out this data-packed infographic from our friends at Uppercut Box.

Product packaging infographic

Why talk about sustainability?

You’re probably fed up with the terms “millennial” and “Generation Y,” but they’re still helpful when describing that particular group of consumers.

For example, one trend that keeps popping up is their desire to buy from brands brave enough to set standards of behavior and live by a set of principles.

I’m a millennial, and for the first time this year, I was able to go to my local zero-waste store and buy travel toiletries for my summer vacation. I even paid a lot more for the privilege and left the store with a fuzzy feeling and a huge smile. Does this sound unusual? Trust me—I’m not the only one in my peer group who looks for opportunities like this.

If you’re looking for more reasons to build your brand around sustainability—and examples of brands that are doing just that—read on.

Boosting that bottom line

If you want to show the market that your company is in it for the long haul, having a sustainability strategy is a case of when, not if.

We know that 75% of millennials millennials say sustainability is a shopping priority, more than any other group. [Tweet this] Yes, we came of age during the Great Recession and aren’t the richest generation (hello Boomers), but we are getting wealthier. And, importantly, we are willing to pay more for things that matter.

The problem with sustainable business practices is the misconception that being good equals less revenue.

Even Forbes agrees that you can earn better returns from investing in good companies. If you’re not positioning your company to look after the planet and its people, you’re already behind. The time is now.

Leading from the front

Do you want your brand to be on the cutting edge, forming relationships with international audiences? Or do you want to be trying to figure out why your quirky social media campaigns aren’t getting the engagement they used to?

The United Nations are fully focused on achieving their Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and your brand can be part of that through the work of the Global Compact division.

Of course, this is step one in the process. Your brand won’t survive on goodwill alone. It has to produce a steady profit to grow and spread your positive message further.

Step two is telling your story, integrating sustainability into your brand and making sure the entire company is on board and proud of the work you’re all doing.

Telling your “triple bottom line” story

If you’re not familiar with the triple bottom line, it’s the idea that your business should be measuring and reporting not just a financial bottom line, but social and environmental bottom lines, too.

This is how you truly integrate your business with sustainability. There are several ways to get started on this, but some useful resources are:

You can use these frameworks that are already created and layer them throughout your business. It’s a time-consuming process to get all of the data in place, but once you have it set up, it’s well-worth the effort.

What’s important to you?

The next part is understanding which issues are important to you and your audience. For smaller brands, your audience will include customers, employees and management teams. For bigger brands, that list might also include governments, local residents and other organizations.

A great place to start with your sustainability efforts is to pick an issue that you all feel strongly about. This will get everyone excited to transition, and while we all know that change can be difficult, successfully launching one project makes it easier to do more.

If you’re thinking of starting a business or just launched one recently, this can still apply to you. Think about your processes as you build them, and ask the question: “Can I repeat this action for the next five years and feel good about it?” If the answer is no, then you have an opportunity to future-proof.

Now that you have an amazing project going on—whether you’re off-setting your carbon output, adding mental health support to your team’s healthcare packages, or engaging your local community in a social development project—it’s time to tell the world.

Using social media

We’re past the point of debating whether social media is relevant. It is. It’s also a fantastic place to tell your brand story in an authentic and engaging way.

The number-one rule here is not to just throw out a few posts about sustainability and expect them to get the engagement they should. Create a new marketing plan with your project at the heart of it, and find ways to tie more of your posts back to sustainability.

The power of Instagram and live-streaming

For Instagram, consider using longer captions. If you have a good reason for a long post, then don’t be afraid. Yes, social media is often about standing out, but that in itself is not a sustainable business practice. If you’re just using pictures of puppies because research shows that puppies get the most likes, then you’ve missed the point of marketing.

Make your social media pages (especially Instagram) reflect your authentic self. Check out @ErinOutdoors or @SophieHellyer, who’ve both attracted loyal communities with their authenticity. Let it showcase the values of your brand so you can attract an audience who cares about those same things.

lifestraw

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:00pm PDT

If you have someone who’s particularly good on camera, give them a platform to talk about your project in a live stream. Most social platforms now have a solid live-streaming option. Take advantage and give your audience access to backstage conversations about your brand. Be brave and be there for your community.

Building a community

Having worked in marketing for a long time now, the most common thing I see is a fear to stand up for something important because it might upset some of your customers. You could sell anything to anyone, but that’s not building a brand legacy—that’s trying to make a quick buck.

If you consider community-building to be part of your marketing strategy, then you need to have a positive message. Brands that build positive messaging in their content and communication are the ones that stand out against the negative cycle of mainstream news.

Examples of great sustainable storytelling

There’s nothing like seeing examples that work, so we’ve curated a few samples of brands we absolutely love.

TRIBE — Sports nutrition with a conscience

At Conscious Creatives, we try to encourage physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle, getting our team healthy through running, cycling, surfing and more. One of our biggest forms of inspiration in this respect is Tribe—a brand dedicated to making sports nutrition products with natural ingredients.

What we love about Tribe is that their marketing plans are based on creating a community. They’re a collection of people who love being outdoors, brought together by sporting events all over the world and a combined effort to rid the world of human trafficking.

like a girl

A post shared by TRIBE (@the_tribe_way) on Oct 15, 2018 at 12:46pm PDT

Tribe is a community of nutrition experts who care about the world. It just so happens that they also sell nutrition products.

Lewis Pugh — Swimming to save the seas

An example of someone who definitely fits the definition of inspirational is Lewis Pugh: swimmer, speaker and general mind-boggling human being.

He’s just completed The Long Swim, a 560-kilometer effort spanning the length of the English Channel.

Why would a person attempt such a thing? To raise awareness of the sorry state of our oceans. Lewis’s feat is the start of a worldwide campaign that aims to fully protect 30% of our oceans by 2030.

A real-life hero and conservationist, Lewis defies all logic and pushes himself to the limits to earn media coverage of the cause. See this photo of his encounter with a plastic bag during his long swim. He used a powerful image, a long caption and specific instructions to make our oceans cleaner.

lewis pugh

A post shared by Lewis Pugh (@lewis.pugh) on Aug 22, 2018 at 7:19am PDT

That is how sustainable marketing will change the world.

rCUP — Recycling reusable cups

I am proud to share a hometown with these folks. They discovered that only 0.4% of recyclable coffee cups were actually being recycled. So, they set about designing a product made from precisely those cups.

The rCUP is a reusable coffee cup that is affordable, looks great and has some wonderful little design elements that make it really easy to use.

A post shared by rCUP (@rcuponeplanet) on Jul 21, 2018 at 11:32am PDT

Sustainable marketing is so much easier when you’ve got products that make a real difference.

How to get started

If you’re reading this and are equal parts excited and confused, you are not alone. I suggest finding a community of like-minded business folks who are also looking to make more money by doing the right thing.

LinkedIn is a great resource for finding sustainability professionals, and our community is strong in voice. We’re all so proud of the work our peers are doing and the causes that we stand for.

Look into your industry to see which organizations support sustainability. You’ll be surprised to discover wonderful groups ready and willing to help, no matter what stage you’re at. For example, if you work in fashion, the Ethical Fashion Initiative is a wonderful example.

The key, though, is to start.

Don’t be afraid to try. Know you aren’t going to do it perfectly, but also know that simply trying is a great thing. Watch as your community grows and rallies around your brand for years to come.

In the digital age, we are constantly surrounded by bleeping phones and notification alerts. The onslaught of incoming communications can seem incessant and unceasing. Most modern consumers are surrounded by distractions, and marketers have a tough job helping their brands catch the attention of prospects.

Related: Create strong emotional connections with your brand story

Often, an effective approach is to add to the stream of information and hope to outdo competitors by offering big discounts and exclusive deals. These quick wins can help your business reach its short-term goals, but they won’t lead to long-term loyalty from consumers. Brands need to build trust with customers so they come back time and again—a one-off discount can’t achieve this.

Instead, the best-known and longest-surviving brands create and nurture emotional connections with their customers—turning them into faithful followers. To do this, marketers use emotional branding. It can take some time to reach the point where your customers’ actions are fueled by emotion, but it is worth the investment, as repeat customers are extremely valuable.

Why invest in emotional branding?

It costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep one. The exact figures vary, with different studies suggesting it can be between 5-25x more costly to attract a new buyer than to retain one. One Harvard Business School study suggests that improving customer retention by 5% will increase a company’s profits by between 25% and 95%.

Every marketer knows that building a strong brand is hugely important in distinguishing a business from its competitors. But, they may not realize just how much it can impact their bottom line. A successful brand goes much deeper than its logo; it creates an emotional connection with customers.

Emotional branding defined

Emotional branding is about building a brand that appeals directly to consumers’ emotions, needs and ambitions. With emotional branding, marketers aim to trigger an emotional response in consumers.

By provoking emotions, marketers can create a bond which disrupts traditional consumer decision-making models. These models are largely based around the idea that consumers make a purchase based purely on logic, but these models are changing.

Emotional branding

Quizlet’s rational decision-making model,lovingly recreated in Lucidpress

When emotional branding comes into play, decisions can become irrational. When given the choice between two similar products, a consumer may simply follow logic and choose the cheapest or most convenient option. However, when emotion is in the mix, they may choose to buy the brand they relate to most.

It’s easy to see how building an emotional bond with consumers can increase profits and why premium brands like Nespresso and Coca-Cola engage in building emotional connections with their customers.

Often, people choose purchases based on ego rather than necessity. Consumers can show who they are through the brands they choose—and they are willing to pay more and go out of their way to do this. It is up to marketers to position their brands in a way that will connect and resonate with their target audience. When done right, cutting through the distractions of the modern world will come easy.

How to incorporate emotional branding in your marketing strategy

The likes of McDonalds, KFC and Disney employ a number of methods to connect in a meaningful way with consumers. The longer a business is around, the easier this becomes, and many brands take advantage of anniversaries and nostalgia to bond with their market.

But, newly founded businesses don’t need to miss out. Here are just some of the approaches to emotional branding that can be used to bond with consumers.

1. Show your customers you care

To succeed at emotional branding, it’s essential to thoroughly know your audience. You need to treat your customers as people rather than faceless consumers. Do your research, conduct surveys, then decide how you can connect with your audience.

What do they value? What triggers them emotionally?

Once you’ve decided which emotion you want to tap into, this should consistently be evident in your marketing messages. From social media to customer care, a brand should constantly address customers’ emotional needs.

Over the years, e-commerce site Zappos endeared itself to customers by going above and beyond to provide great service. From providing free overnight delivery to a customer in a sticky situation to assisting a hungry helpline caller in need of pizza, the site has built up a loyal following.

Zappos - Emotional branding example

While Zappos provides an extreme example of customer care, creating an emotional connection by meeting and exceeding customer service expectations doesn’t have to be so extravagant.

Apple has built a cult following simply by demonstrating that it understands the needs of its users. Nike recognizes its customers’ dreams and ambitions, and the brand uses marketing to show how it can help with the journey.

French beauty brand L’Occitane simply provides customers with beautifully presented deliveries and free gift-wrapping—making a memorable impression which, for many of its customers, is more appreciated than a discount.

L'Occitane - Emotional brand example

2. Be consistent

For online marketers, consistency is key. Sharing content which demonstrates a consistent tone and style builds both visibility and trust for a brand.

Without the trust of your audience, there is no way you’ll be able to build a strong emotional bond that will keep customers coming back.

Here are some practical ways to ensure brand consistency:

3. Give customers an experience they won’t forget

Disney - emotional branding

Beyond providing great customer care, consider what other kind of experiences your brand can use to build an emotional connection with customers. Big brands often sponsor concerts and sporting events—or run their own. What could be your brand’s Disneyland?

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, could you host an entertaining event? If you’re working with a smaller budget, could you provide an Instagrammable installation in-store? This is a simple, but impactful, way to connect with consumers in today’s digital world.

Redemption Bar - Emotional branding example

Source: Redemption Bar

Provide a positive experience as customers use your product or service wherever possible. UX is growing in importance for online businesses and is intertwined with the overall brand experience.

Companies like Slack impress customers by providing a helpful and supportive experience through friendly reminders, convenient app integrations, and cleverly auto-populated gifs.

Alternatively, you can use marketing campaigns to align your brand with a particular lifestyle or emotional experience. Coca-Cola’s “Open Happiness” campaign is a clear example of this.

Coca-Cola - Emotional branding

4. Put a friendly face at the center of your brand

Whether it’s a celeb, an Instagram influencer, or an employee-turned-brand-ambassador, sometimes the best way to connect with consumers on an emotional level is through a warm human personality.

Female consumers don’t go through enormous lengths to get one of Kylie Jenner’s lip kits just because of the product’s quality. They do this because of their love for the company’s CEO.

You don’t have to have a famous face to build a close relationship with your audience. Many charismatic CEOs have become the heart of their company’s brands.

Gary Vee - Emotional branding example

Think of Gary Vaynerchuk or Neil Patel, who have both built strong personal brands and businesses through social media. Their willingness to share knowledge and expertise with consumers has helped them to connect with audiences on an emotional level.

On a smaller scale, it’s very possible for a friendly waiter to drive customer retention by creating personal connections with diners. Brand ambassadors can come in many forms, and they’re a great way to reinforce brand values and build rapport with customers.

Key takeaway

Emotional branding builds lasting relationships with your audience and can improve the profitability and longevity of your business. You want to bring your customers to a point where they can’t imagine going to anyone else to get the products or services you provide.

Big brands are leading in this area, but small businesses can get in on emotional branding through the smallest of gestures and actions. As social media algorithms change and internet browsers seek out online communities, connecting emotionally will become a key strategy for cutting through the distractions of the modern world and reaching audiences.

Learn more about the power of emotional branding & storytelling in our webinar with branding expert David Brier.

Competition for customers is fiercer than ever, but a well-planned franchise marketing strategy can make you stand out from the crowd.

However, strategy is quite a complex subject. Can it be condensed into a simple article?

If you ask us, we say yes. We’ve distilled the most important steps a marketing strategy should contain. You’ll see in the examples below that even major brands follow the principles explained in this article.

Whether you’re a franchisor, a franchisee or a marketer, this is a great practical resource for you because every principle here is backed with concrete examples to inspire you.

Ready? Let’s dive right in.

Segment your audience if you want to maximize your results

You already know that you can have the best product on the planet, the most persuasive sales message, or the most creative ad ever—but if you deliver it to the wrong person, it will never work, right?

This applies whether you’re a franchisor looking for franchise buyers or a franchisee who wants to attract more people to your business.

So, if you want to make the most of your marketing efforts, your marketing plans have to start with your core audience in mind.

Below, you can find a few essential questions to ask yourself (or even better, your existing customers) to find out who’s most likely to buy from you.

Questions to ask yourself & your team:

Questions to ask your existing customers:

Prioritize channels

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is trying to be on every platform out there.

Trying to tackle every channel available can be a great strategy if:

  1. You have the resources to do this (time + money + knowledge).
  2. Your audience is on every platform.

The first point is pretty clear. Few companies have the resources to go that broad with their marketing efforts. Second, often times, our audience isn’t everywhere.

For example, if your target audience is between 18 to 25 years old, you might be better off going for Instagram than Facebook.

Franchise marketing strategy

Source: Statista

Or, if you want to use Twitter as one of your main marketing channels in Europe, you might reconsider because Twitter hasn’t penetrated Europe as much.

Franchise marketing strategy

There are a lot of effective channels available. How do you prioritize them?

Here’s a simple, tested system borrowed from growth hacking marketing you can use. This is the same marketing concept used by startups like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Airbnb:

Franchise marketing strategy

Source: GrowthHackers

Cost — how much you expect to spend on that particular channel (check cost statistics beforehand).

Targeting — how easy it is to reach your intended audience and how specific you can be. Does your chosen platform/channel have local advertising capabilities, for example?

Control — how much control you have once you go live. Can you stop it easily or adjust if it’s not going well? For example, it’s much harder to change a billboard than a Facebook ad.

Input time — how much time it will take to launch the experiment. Filming a television ad, for example, has a much longer input time than setting up a promoted tweet.

Output time — how long it will take to get results once it’s live. For example, search engine optimization (SEO) could be a great channel for your franchise marketing, but it has a much longer output time than pay-per-click does.

Scale — how large an audience you can reach with the experiment. Television offers much larger scale than advertising on a niche blog does.

Make sure you maintain consistent branding

Different channels require different creative.

Twitter is more text-based because people use it for news and articles.

Franchise marketing strategy

Source: Buffer

Instagram is a more visual platform and requires high-resolution photos.

Franchise marketing strategy

Source: Buffer

On Facebook, a recent BuzzSumo analysis found that videos have higher average engagement than images and links.

Franchise marketing strategy

Source: Buffer

Therefore, no matter if you are a franchisor or a franchisee, you have to make sure you:

  1. Maintain consistent branding across all your franchises (as a franchisor).
  2. Maintain consistent branding across all your channels (as a franchisee).

What does this congruent brand identity actually mean? Below, you’ll find some real examples.

Communicate your value proposition in the same way across all channels—offline, online, TV, radio, direct mail or anything else. [Tweet this]

Franchise marketing strategy

Your design (colors, logos, fonts, tone) has to be the same whether someone sees an ad on Facebook or landed on your website from a Google ad.

One of the best examples here is Coca-Cola.

As you can see, the color red is always present in one way or another. They also use the same fonts and design elements.

Franchise marketing strategy

Another important element to a congruent brand identity is tone of voice.

If we continue our Coca-Cola example, we can see that almost all their posts express happiness, joy, fun, or the feeling of enjoying a great moment with friends.

Franchise marketing strategy

If we take another example, Charmin, you can see that whether they communicate offline or online, they maintain a playful tone.

Franchise marketing strategy

How can you make sure your franchise brand stays consistent?

First, you’ll have to create a brand manual which includes 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.

(We’ve handpicked some of the best brand guideline examples for you.)

Then, in order to minimize errors, you 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 Marq, you can create & 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.

Franchise marketing strategy

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

The complete guide to multi-location branding

Before starting your efforts, make sure you can measure them

There’s an old adage that says half of the money invested in marketing is wasted. The problem is you don’t know which half.

Well, thanks to digital analytics, you can track your results so in-depth that you’d be amazed at how much leverage you have… if you measure the right things.

Here are just a couple of examples. Let’s say your marketing team developed two or three video messages for a certain audience, but you don’t know which one to choose.

It’s super easy. On Facebook, for example, you can check how much of your video was actually watched by a particular group.

Franchise marketing strategy

If you compare it to television advertising, for example, you don’t get this level of accurate data. You can’t know whether a person left the room when the commercial started.

But, Facebook isn’t the only tool that allows you to track the results of your franchise advertising efforts.

If you run email marketing campaigns, you can see how many people opened your email and clicked on the offer inside.

Franchise marketing strategy

Source: MailChimp

If you run any other digital marketing campaigns, you can check Google Analytics to see how much time people spend on your website, which campaign brought in the best results, where the most traffic comes from, and much more.

Franchise marketing strategy

Source: Optimize Smart

Or, maybe you just bought a pizza franchise and you’re using local Google Ads. You can track how many times people called versus how much money you’ve invested and see if there’s a positive return on investment.

Ultimately, analytics don’t have to be limited to the online world. If you’re using offline marketing tactics like flyers or coupons, you can use codes to measure whether your campaign was a success.

Franchise marketing strategy

Marketing is first and foremost a battle for attention. If you don’t have people’s attention, you can’t communicate with them. If you can’t communicate, you can’t sell.

In the 50s, attention was on the newspapers, then on TV and radio.

Today, our attention is on social media. Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger are becoming more powerful.

Influencer marketing is growing, because they have people’s attention and they’ve already earned their trust.

Franchise marketing strategy

Source: Google Trends

What’s next? Voice search & marketing will have a huge impact on consumer behavior. More than 35 million Americans used a voice-activated assistant at least once a month in 2017, according to eMarketer.

Franchise marketing strategy

Coordinate local & national franchise marketing

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 Marq, 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 Marq 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.

Before you start your franchise marketing strategy…

Everything starts with your ideal client in mind. From there, you decide which channels would bring you the best results, depending on your budget.

Next, you have to make sure your brand identity stays consistent across all channels—from your value proposition to your design elements.

Then, make sure you keep an eye on the latest trends in order to leverage first-mover advantages. This strategy will give your franchise business the best chance at standing out and finding success with your preferred customers.

Maintain brand consistency with Marq, the brand management platform for franchises. It’s perfect for franchise brands of any size.

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 yo