branding

10 WAYS TO KILL A BRAND

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Companies will spend a lot of time and money on creating an effective branding strategy. But mistakes can, and often do happen during this crucial phase. Here’s our guide on the worst things you can do to kill your brand and how to avoid them. Now these might seem like nothing new, but it doesn't hurt to have a refresher.

1. Using Poor Quality Visuals
Or worse - no visuals at all. Pictures are more memorable than words, and humans tend to think in pictures. Attention spans are getting smaller and smaller, so make sure to invest in something that connects with the visual thinker.

2. Inconsistent Branding
Your company needs to use the same name, logo, and tagline across multiple mediums and channels, both inside and outside the business. The name on your sign for your brick-and-mortar location? It has to be same as what’s on your business cards and website. Keep it consistent, invest in brand guidelines.

3. No Employee Training
Your employees are walking, talking advertisements for your company. Train them well on how to be effective ambassadors for your company. Implement a Brand 101 course with monthly courses to ensure your message is being properly conveyed.

4. Not Tracking Marketing Efforts
Each time a new customer contacts your company, it’s a good idea to have your employees ask them how they found out about your brand. Keep a master list of these answers to inform where you should focus your future marketing efforts.

5. Not Leveraging Word-of-Mouth Advertising
Your previous clients and customers are your greatest marketing assets. Use their testimonials and quote them in your ads and brochures. A real, authentic voice might be just the validation someone needs to click the buy button.

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6. Using Old Marketing Materials
Many small businesses will make this mistake. They invest heavily in a brochure or sales letter, order thousands of copies, and then use the material for many years until it’s all gone. The marketing quickly goes stale. Instead, order smaller increments of marketing materials, and refresh them frequently with new content and mediums.

7. Confusing Consumers with Too Many Choices
We get it; you’re a jack of all trades. But that doesn’t mean you need to advertise as such. Instead, focus on a core offering and build your branding strategy around it. You don’t want to make the mistake of confusing the public and overwhelming them with too many choices. Analysis paralysis is real.

8. Unbelievable Taglines
Trust is critical for fostering a relationship with your customers. Don’t use an unrealistic tagline like “We Do it All.” Do you really do it all? Play it safe here and use a believable tagline your customers can trust, and that’s memorable.

9. Jumping on Trends
Here’s the thing about trends - they come and go. But you want your brand to stick around for the long haul. Avoid trends and cliches when building your brand.

10. Not Welcoming New Customers
Brands need to think logically and convey a warm, welcoming tone. You may have a local market you’re targeting, but we live in a global economy. Brands should try to welcome customers from diverse backgrounds by being culturally sensitive, inclusive, investing in translation software, and using language the average person can understand and appreciate.

Know where successful branding starts. Be aware of these top ten branding mistakes and avoid them when launching your new company, product, or service.

TOP 3 WAYS TO MAKE THE FREEMIUM MODEL WORK FOR YOU

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Modern shoppers are bombarded with advertisements. In our highly connected, digital age, there is no end in sight to the range of products, services, and brands that a consumer can purchase from and support. But with so many ads and brands competing for consumer’s limited attention and discretionary income, how can a company find new consumers, and get them hooked on their products or services? Finding qualified leads isn’t enough. You need to find a way to compel those leads to make a purchase. What’s one of the quickest ways to do that? The freemium model, and we’ll cover the top three ways the freemium model can work for your business.

With profit margins getting tighter in many industries, the freemium model does have a few downsides. But for subscription-based service models, going freemium can be an excellent way to build your brand awareness, convert leads to sales, and increase your profits.

1. The freemium model cuts through the noise.

The average consumer sees 5,000 product ads a day. Offering a compelling freemium service for a trial period is a quick and easy way to cut through the noise and the competition online. But to make this work for your business, you need to offer an obvious value to the customer with your freemium versus paid subscription model.  

Spotify does a great job here. They offer a freemium, but users have to listen to commercials for one thing, and they can’t download songs to a multitude of devices with Spotify freemium. Upgrading to the paid option though gives them the ability to skip songs, skip commercials, and download their playlists to any mobile device.

What you need to do is offer the customer an obvious value when they upgrade to make freemium work for you. When the customer sees how valuable your service is with freemium, but how much better it can be with the upgrade, the chances of them converting to a paid customer are much higher.

2. Nurture the freemium leads.

In most cases, it takes consumers a while to decide to make a purchase, and most leads are not ready to buy straight away. That’s why nurturing your freemium leads is crucial to getting this model to work for your business. Think about your sales funnel, and creating lead nurturing email campaigns to expose the leads to your brand and compel them to make a purchase.

3. Hold back on core functions.

You don’t want to give away too much, too soon with the freemium model if you want it to lead to future sales. While the freemium model can work if you’re strategic about it, not every freemium subscriber is going to convert. Your freemium people still have value as potential brand advocates. The trick here is not to give away for free too many of your company’s core functions. Doing so will cause the freemium model to eat into your profit margins, and it won’t work.

The freemium model isn’t dead, and subscription-based companies can make it work for them if they keep these three tips in mind when creating a freemium model as part of their marketing campaigns.

WHAT ARE YOU REALLY SELLING?

Human beings have an attention span that is one second less than your average goldfish’s. In today’s interconnected and digital world, consumers are under a constant barrage of advertisements. Sometimes, they don’t even realize that what they are seeing is an ad, especially if it's carefully disguised as a narrative blog post. So, what can you do to increase your sales, and turn cold or warm leads into paying, loyal customers?
 
First off, you must know what you're selling, and it’s not the features you’re selling, but the benefits of your offering and why your brand exists to add value. For instance...

Starbucks does not sell coffee that comes in any flavor you could want. Starbucks sells a community. And what are the benefits of a community? It fosters connection, camaraderie, and the benefit of being seen and heard as part of a group of like-minded coffee-lovers.
 
Disney does not sell entertainment. They sell magic and unforgettable experiences. Sure, they sell movies and toys to entertain. But so do thousands of other companies. What is it that makes Disney’s toys and movies so special? The brand is positioned to sell magic and enable customers to create new, cherished memories with their loved ones.
 
So, what is it that you’re selling?
Factual statements don’t compel someone to buy. The benefits do. Why does your product exist, and what value does its existence add to the customer’s experience?
 
It’s the customer’s emotions that drive them to make a purchase. While listing factual information is important so the customer knows how the product or service operates, that’s not what gets them to convert.
 
What are some examples of features versus benefits?
You want to communicate to your audience what the more profound, emotional benefits are that you’re selling, and position your brand to connect with them through those benefits, for example:

  • Accessibility vs 24-hour limo service 

  • Convenience vs One-click buy 

  • Trustworthiness vs Doing business since 1950

Once you understand what the benefits are, you can begin to craft content around those benefits that utilize a narrative structure that hits those emotional notes for your target audience. The latest and the most fabulous features don’t mean much to your customer unless those features translate into benefits that bring them a specific value. What you’re selling needs to answer these vital questions for the customer:

  • What’s in it for me?

  • Will this improve my current situation?

  • Will the product or service make me happier, healthier, smarter, or richer?

Understanding your target audience’s demographics can certainly help you figure out what your offering’s most relevant features are that you want to list. However, knowing the psychographics of your customer, as in what motivates them or what gives them value, can help you position your brand’s benefits and the reason why it exists to serve the customer. Doing this will enable you to move whatever product or service it is that you’re selling.
 
For better conversions and increased customer loyalty, know exactly what you’re selling, and communicate how it benefits your target customer on an emotional level.

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DOES YOUR BRAND NEED BOOT CAMP?

Online content and marketing strategies are continuously evolving and changing. In today’s competitive environment, remaining still can cause your brand to get swept away in the current. Just treading water isn’t a viable strategy, either. Stagnancy and complacency in business are productivity killers. Is your brand strategy feeling a bit stale lately? Then you may need a brand boot camp.


1. Positioning
Understanding and capitalizing on what makes your brand unique can breathe new life into your marketing strategies. Unless you have an incredibly, remarkably, earth-shatteringly different product or service never seen before, you have to position your brand.

What does this look like? Well, for starters, you want to differentiate your product or service from your main competitors. Why should a customer choose your offering over the other company’s offering?

On the flipside, you want to see what your competitors have that you don’t. Do they have something that you need? One of the easiest ways to gain new customers and increase your audience base is to target your main competitor’s following. But, your brand will need to be more appealing than the targeted competitor.

2. Reach
How are you currently reaching your ideal customers? If you’ve noticed that new follower acquisition has stagnated, it’s time to fish in deeper, different waters. To find new places to reach people, you want to fully understand the different mediums where your brand messaging is most effectively conveyed to viewers. Look around for a popular, new platform where you could start communicating your message. Where are your competitors finding new viewers?

3. Experience

One of the most effective ways to increase your customer base and conversions is through improved customer experience. It’s crucial that you ensure a positive experience throughout the buyer’s journey. Remember, you want it to be pleasant, efficient, and offer real, valuable utility to the user. Customer experience though is not something that can be quickly or easily manipulated.  Providing valuable, useful services and products will help increase and also maintain your brand’s positive reputation.

It’s not enough to send your brand to boot camp and develop improvements for your company if you aren’t sure of your goals. Make sure you have a plan and a strategy involved when you give your brand a makeover. What experience do you want to give your customers? What end goal are each of your new developments supporting? When you have a set of clear, concrete objectives, your plans will be much easier to implement, and it will keep your team focused on the end goal.

Don’t let stagnancy and complacency sink your brand. With better positioning, improvements to the customer experience, and increased reach, you’ll breathe new life into your company with brand boot camp.