Brand Strategy

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.

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.

10 Ways Your Bank Should Be Using Pinterest - Part 2

Now that you’re in the know about the best way to set up your Pinterest business account, let’s take a look at five powerful pin ideas that your bank can start using today. If you missed Part 1, catch it here.

6. Infographics

Make info visual (i.e. graphs, charts). You can even use Infogr.am , a selection of templates to create infographics for free. Check out the infographics board by Rich Dad Poor Dad on Pinterest for some great inspiration.

7. Checklists

Create a visual format for helpful lists. What can you create a checklist for to promote your business and help your customers? Checklists are a very popular form of content. People love lists. Link your list pin to a product of yours where they can download the checklist, and even sign up for a newsletter on the topic. A first-time home buyer’s checklist, seasonal money saving tips, or a retirement savings checklist would be great ones for your bank to offer.

8. Teaser Texts/CTA's

An image becomes so much more with a banner of text that gets their attention and gets them to click to content. Translate content into a visual snapshot for Pinterest and place a Call-to-Action (CTA) on it. For example, a picture of a kitchen sink is just that without any text, but with “7 Home Improvement Projects You Shouldn’t Ignore” added to it, people are going to take action. PicMonkey.com is a free service that allows you to seamlessly add teaser text to photos and supercharge your visual content.

9. Videos

These are very powerful on Pinterest. Many people don’t even realize that you can pin videos but it is quite easy to do so. You can pin videos directly from YouTube, which if you have your own YouTube channel is fantastic. BirchBox TV is a great example of a business that is creating value for their customers via video.

10. Effective Captions

Finally, one of the main ingredients in creating a powerful pin is to write an effective caption. Include a CTA in your caption – a verb that tells them what to do, such as “click here”, “pin this”, or “download for free.” Use keywords in your description so that you build backlinks to your site and get found better in searches like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, as well as the Pinterest search.


TIME-SAVING TIP!!!

Pinning at the right time of day can help your business gain more visibility. Pinterest users tend to be on in the early morning and late evening, and especially early on Saturday mornings. If you’re worried about not being able to pin at the right times, then you can use Viraltag, a tool to schedule pins at optimal times.




Go to Part 1 >>
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Article written by Naomi Farr for The Element Group.

10 Ways Your Bank Should Be Using Pinterest - Part 1

Pinterest is currently the fourth largest driver of traffic on the web, according to Pinterest master and successful entrepreneur Melanie Duncan. Chances are you’ve pinned a few images by now, but are you using Pinterest in an optimal way for your business? Using Pinterest to create inspiration boards for your next vacation or to collect images of all the shoes you wish you had in your closet is one thing, but using it for business is quite another and the two should be kept separate – unless of course you own a shoe boutique.

Customers are shopping on Pinterest, they’re interacting with brands, and looking for inspiration on what to buy next and where to select services. As a business you should be creating the right type of content to build your brand, increase your visibility, and actively engage your audience so that you ultimately get more sales.

First, let’s lay the foundation for best business practices on Pinterest:

1. Be Pinnable

The first step you should take is to make sure the content on your website and blog can be easily pinned to Pinterest. There are many pin-it button plugins you can find for your site, either that place a pin-it button over each image, or at the bottom of each post. This ensures it is easy for viewers to pin images and content from your website in a simple click.

2. Get A Pinterest Business Account

By creating an official business account you can take advantage of the features Pinterest is constantly rolling out new features for businesses, such as analytics for your Pinterest page. If you started a personal Pinterest account for your business you can convert into a business page.

3. Serve Your Audience

Connect and share with them.  Promote pinning by creating content that is useful to them and that they will naturally want to re-pin. 80% of pins are re-pins! This is fantastic because people are sharing naturally, and doing much of the time-consuming work for you.  What kind of pins can you, as a bank, create for your audience? How about home remodeling trends, space-saving design, infographics about home refinancing, car loans, or saving for college? See five powerful pin ideas in Part 2.

4. Promote Content Circulation

You can do this by creating your own original content. If you are simply using Pinterest to re-pin other pins you are just leading more traffic to the sites that those pins came from, not yours. Create original content with CTA’s that link pins to your opt-in email list, for example.

5. Integrate Your Social Media Efforts

Place a Pinterest tab on your Facebook page, for example, so that you can leverage your audience in multiple places.

 

Go to Part 2 >>
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Article written by Naomi Farr for The Element Group.