Engaging the Modern Business Environment

Technology. The phenomenon that has captured the human eye for decades. People eagerly anticipate the release of the newest phone, computer, or TV. These devices have become an integral part of everyday life, and are used to connect and catch the attention of the average consumer. In an engaging and modern business environment, the topic of technology seems to be the method of choice for many aspiring companies as they seek to further their success. The wide amount of possibilities that are available to the company, through technology, allow for easy customization, communication, and interaction.

Popular Community Bank

Popular Community Bank

Businesses, especially those based around office work, are usually thought to be dull and depressing (basically the color grey). Today, when one enters a corporate building, they immediately are entertained with movement, design and color, all from digital signage strategically placed throughout the space. Each screen delivers a quick and informative glimpse into what the company does, what options are available, and the adaptability and approachability of the company as a whole. Not only does it peak the customer’s interest, there are inherent benefits for the businesses through cost effectiveness, manageability, and profitability. Merchandising and traditional point-of-sale used to be the go-to form of “advertisement” but unfortunately they quickly become static and fade into the background. Digital displays are vibrant and easy to navigate, providing many options such as interactive features, activity-initiated lights, and video walls.

Rivermark Federal Credit Union

Rivermark Federal Credit Union

Digital displays can showcase a company’s services, interesting local and internal company events, personalized biographies of the staff, messages for employees, a quick access email sign-up list, and entertainment with games and scratch boards. Customers can win rewards such as coupons from local businesses or company merchandise, as a way for the business to engage and give back to the community. Visitors with a positive and engaged experience are more likely to return as loyal customers. All of this is quickly and easily updatable from a designer’s computer and more cost effective than purchasing new (and expensive) point-of-sale every time something needs to be changed.

Popular Community Bank

Popular Community Bank

Avidia Bank

Avidia Bank

Lyle Bunn, a digital signage consultant and educator with Bunn Co. and the Digital Signage Association, says “The sign becomes a silent salesman.” Through information gathered from various research companies, installing even a single screen in a business can boost inquiries from 5%-15% and sales from 5%-50%. In some cases, the increase can reach as much as 300%. Results have shown that integrating digital signage into a business environment will lead to increased sales, improved connectivity, loyalty, and a brighter atmosphere for the workplace.

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Article written by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group.
Edited by Cassie Amicone & Laura Mynahan.

When It Comes To Your Brand ‘Every Bit Matters’

It is our aspiration to offer periodic insight on ways to expand your marketing efforts and brand strategies. We could also say to expand your marketing strategies and branding efforts. Redundant? If your impression is that we are being redundant or saying the same thing in a different way then this is written with you in mind. This commentary is about one of the biggest misconceptions and therefore breakdowns, in the pursuit of successful marketing.

We recognize that most people, including marketing professionals and brand experts, do not realize a difference between marketing and branding. However, to realize the difference and know how to effectively use them together is the equation for successfully helping your customers understand your value and what positively differentiates you within the marketplace. To understand BRAND is to understand what makes your business unique and why your customers choose you and/or others don’t. To understand MARKETING is to understand how to convey the proper and targeted message to attract consumers.

There’s an old joke that a cow’s brand is it’s return address; funny to some and lost on others. However, there is greater meaning hidden in this old adage. The brand emblazoned on a cow’s hide will tell a greater story not only about the cow, but the farm, the farmer and so on. Other farmers will recognize the brand as one of quality, health, stock and value or precisely the opposite. This is what consumers do with brand labels and road signs. We have a perception of a brand’s value based on our personal experience or word-of-mouth experiences. This is because, the truth and essence of a brand is every single thing associated with the company it represents.  Unfortunately, it is commonly believed that your logo, color palette, signs and collateral are your brand and in fact they are, but only part of your brand. Your brand is also your location, customer service, price point, quality, an emotion and even a ‘vibe.’ Again, your brand is everything. This, of course, is why we, at Element say, when it comes to your brand, - ‘Every Bit Matters.’

You may think because you have a logo, sign and brochure that you have a brand, but you don’t. What you have are brand identifiers. These are the things consumers use to identify your product or service within the marketplace, but not the value they apply to your product or service. Your brand is the perceived value consumers associate with your business. Perception itself must first be understood. It is often thought that if we do certain things we will be perceived a certain way, which would conclude we control the perception others have of us, but this isn’t the case. Perception is what others see, hear or become aware of something through their senses. This is why the look, feel, smell, sound and flavor of your brand don’t merely contribute to your brand, but are your brand. They make up the brand experience.

Our previous piece about having fresh cut flowers in your branch is a great example of how to create a positive brand experience. Outside of residual word-of-mouth promotion, the flowers are not marketing, but rather enhancing your brand experience.  Read: http://everybitmatters.com/stand-marketplace-custom-floral-arrangements/

Marketing, however is the message used to express your brand to the consumer. It is the story you tell about your brand’s product or service within the marketplace. Marketing allows us to promote and highlight elements of our brand through the various avenues such as social media, traditional media, signs, brochures, websites and personal interaction. You can have a brand without marketing, but you can’t market without a brand.

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It is important to understand that developing the proper brand experience comes before the marketing. Once you have established and created the brand experience you want to offer your customers it can be prepared, packaged and delivered to them through marketing tactics.  A well-established brand is more easily and efficiently marketed, but also realize that the best marketing in the world cannot successfully coincide with a poor brand experience.  This is because, as we noted, consumers own your brand, you don’t. Despite masterfully crafted campaigns, beautiful artwork and Hemingway like headlines it will ultimately be the perceived experience of the consumer who will be the judge of what your company is about and with today’s technology of tweets, posts and online reviews this can be a very scary notion.

The original and what seemed like an obvious title for this piece was ‘Branding VS Marketing’ as a way to declare the difference, but branding and marketing, although different are not in competition, but rather cohesion. Success takes both, but it also takes knowing the difference between the two to succeed.

It is our objective with these editorials to offer you our insight on relevant and applicable ways you can build on your brand and promote your message. In short, we will offer ‘bits’ on how to improve your brand experience and ‘bits’ on how to market your story. Because as we always say – Every Bit Matters. 

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Article written by Brent Beckett for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.

Color with Caleigh // Color Neighbors aka: analogous colors

Revisiting our trusty friend the color wheel. Analogous colors are found side by side on the color wheel, which are known as “neighbor” colors. Lets start with my favorite color… green. Green’s neighbors, being blue and yellow, are very cohesive and comfortable when put together in a space. Analogous palettes are great for achieving a space with a calming environment. 

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Analogous combinations are usually found in nature, which is why they are so pleasing to the eye. It is important in a retail environment to use analogous colors with a significant amount of contrast so that you can create a space that is comfortable. Creating a comfortable feeling to a retail environment will make it more likely that customers will spend time in your store, and also return in the future. 

 Similar to complementary colors, it is important to choose a dominant color and have the other colors as accents or supporting colors. This may be your brand color. If your brand color is a hunter green try to use pops of a bright sunny yellow and maybe a more muted blue, creating a great backdrop for the green. Causing plenty of visual interest, without being overwhelming. 

If you liked this post make sure to check out our post on complementary colors and bringing life into a space!

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Article written by Caleigh Pollard for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.

Branding and Brand Recognition: More than a logo communicating the personality of the brand

Branding. Design. Two words that are tough to nail down a specific definition. We not only look at these two words as an artistic communication of a company, but also as a strategy. The preconception that “design” is visual artistic communication in its simplest form isn’t the only element that is being perused. Design is setting and planning specific goals to achieve success. The two main ingredients of branding are: Design, i.e. logo, typography, colors and Design Strategy: community, culture, brand. We must break it down to its most basic pieces in order to obtain a flow and a style that tells the audience what you’re here to accomplish. We must set the stage. In almost all cases, this begins with the logo.

The logo is designed to have recognition. It is a key identification tool that reinforces the companies image. But without the brand, the logo is almost meaningless. Most companies’ logos are not even directly related to their logo. Think about Starbucks, a half naked mermaid. A computer company that picked an apple with a bite out of it. So without this affiliated culture, the definition and recognition to the public changes the perception completely.

Then there’s font choice. Typography is a major key to the communicative goal of a company. The type should be clean and easy to read. Good type gives people a feeling of clean organization. One of the most adapted fonts is the over 50-year-old Helvetica. It is a classic sans-serif font. It changed the whole look of the NYC subway system. Linking all of this to specified colors create an entire new meaning. Colors dig into another level involving philosophy and strategy. Research has proven that certain colors and color combinations give humans subconscious feelings. (i.e. blue is an intellectual color that has positive emotions of intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection and calmness. It also has negative subconscious effects of coldness, aloofness, and lack of emotion.)

The brand is our overall definition of the business or organization. It’s what sets apart from the competitors. The stronger the brand the more enforced following it will bring to a target audience. The quality that is set is the tone for the products and services that are being provided.

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Community and culture are the last links to consider when creating a brand. Many companies don’t realize the value of a string community and culture. It is a difficult task to build this type of reinforcement. By creating emphasis on a specific style, manner, information, etc. it will create a following that goes beyond the product or service itself. It gives you a word-of-mouth advertising plan. This is by far the most credible way to gain community.

Building consistency and fluidity is the gateway to success. Having a guideline for the brand is the best way to establish this. The brand should still be flexible in that it can flirt with other ideas while still conducting its style roots. Without establishing a brand, the company will not have the same level of successful outcome compared to those that really nail down who they are. 

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Article written by Vanessa Weego for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.

Technology and banking: Part 2

In the first part of this two-part series we discussed some of the current technology applications businesses are using to create an efficient and convenient digital experience for their customers, as well as, the ability of the business to gather essential information that allows for a better and more targeted line of communication with their customers. As mentioned, the information a business is able to gather about individual customers is priceless and usable in countless ways. Let’s quickly examine how grocery stores use this type of information, as the grocery industry is masterful at capitalizing on information they are able to analyze and then provide targeted incentives to customers based upon their shopping history and habits. Most of the reward programs offered by grocery stores are now driven by the same technology as the business apps being developed. Grocery stores are able to gather a tremendous amount of information about each consumer that they can track and immediately know when a customer shops, what they buy, how much they spend and if they have been absent from the store. Grocery stores are then able to send a coupon, personalized messages and invitations that speak directly to a consumer based upon their shopping behavior. Now that we’ve made our point about the importance of utilizing this type of technology we will outline six technology services that will get you on track creating a better experience for your customer and more powerful marketing and promotion capacity for your bank.

Digital Appointments:

Per previously mentioned examples of most service based businesses offering scheduling abilities from their mobile device we can offer you Digital Appointment capabilities, of which will allow customers to schedule an appointment via and app within a calendar of available times. The scheduled appointment appears on the bank computers alerting a representative to the scheduled appointment. Upon arrival, the customer checks in via the app alerting the representative that the customers is in the building. This app can be developed as simple or as robust as desired by the bank.

Creating A Digital Connection:

This function allows a customer to bank they way want while also providing the bank with a tremendous amount of information about this particular customer. The primary purpose is for customers to make notes about various questions and thoughts about their accounts or bank offered services. The bank also has the ability to make notes about the customer that can be used for future follow up, direct messaging and an overall better rapport.

Account Finder:

This function provides the customer the ability to browse various products and services offered by the bank that are targeted to them based upon how they answered a few questions. If the results of a questionnaire provide insight that a customer is interested in learning more about mortgages they will be presented with mortgage based information. The customer then has the option to download the information, email to themselves or share with someone else.  The customer can fill out any applications or documents necessary prior to arriving at the bank making the process very efficient for both parties. The bank is also able to track the items customers downloaded and is therefore able to content them to discuss in greater detail or inspire them to continue with the process. It is a tremendously powerful sales tool for a bank.

Live And Interactive Widget Wall:

A live and interactive widget wall is primarily a function proven by consumers as something they want. This is the added value ‘stuff,’ we mentioned, but it is also a great resource for interacting with your customers while also being a ‘go-to’ page for banking information and otherwise. Featured are an interactive calendar, the date and time, local weather, trivia, sports scores and potentially advertisements either from the bank or outside businesses.  Real time information about upcoming events, area web cams and social media posts and tweets being made by the bank and customers. You can post an online poll about upcoming cultural events that result in customer interaction within your brand. This function is what is referred to as the random scroll though page during idle times, but if you are able to be connecting and communicating with your customers as a result it provides and opportunity you don’t otherwise get. Keep in mind we can customize this wall to be relevant to your bank and community.

In-Branch Screens:

It is not uncommon for businesses to have flat screens featuring digital displays, but our service allows these screens to become interactive.  Consumers are able to click through a menu of options and narrow down the information to their interest. Upon finding something of interest, the consumer can download the information to their device, which is also digitally tracked by the bank. If a customer downloads information about a checking account the bank can proactively follow up with the customer with more information about checking accounts. This service is very powerful in establishing dialogues with the customer based upon items they have shown interest in knowing about.

Digital Referral Program:

Referral programs are not a new banking tactic, but offering this incentive digitally is new. In this day in age, traditional referral programs are cumbersome and appear as a chore rather than a bonus. We can offer you the ability to establish the referral program via digital applications that happen instantly. A person is much more likely to take advantage of a referral program if they can solicit to all their friends at once via social media rather than tracking others down and pitching it one at a time.  

It is our intention to outline some of the current technology apps that we, The Element Group are implementing in banks throughout the country, but is more of our intention to speak with you directly about helping you take advantage of these functions that are proving successful in creating a more efficient and fluid banking experience for your customers while allowing you the ability to be more targeted and effective in communicating with your customers.

These are six bits of technology that will transform how you and your customers do business together and as we always say, Every Bit Matters.

 

 

 

Go to Part 1 >>

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Article written by Brent Beckett for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.