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Branding

Choosing an Agency: Requirement 8

Choosing the Right Agency: Sensitive To Your Brand

By | Branding, Content Marketing | No Comments

With an always-increasing number of competitors in the market, it is important to remember that your brand is what makes your business unique. Your business’s marketing team works hard to build and maintain constant messaging, awareness, and growth of your brand name—and your content marketing agency should be doing the same.

Branded Content

Good content marketing agencies know the importance of branded content. “If brands can create content that engages people, they will listen to it, remember it, download it, share it, post it, stream it and recommend it,” according to Matt Simpson of BrandRepublic. Good content should engage customers past an initial encounter; it should prompt people to keep reading and keep exploring what your business has to offer them.

Branded content ranges from your blog posts to your social media posts and everything in between. A content marketing agency that understands branding also understands how they can make specific content for each platform that is branded for your unique self.

Brand Engagement

Knowing you need branded content is the first step to improving your content marketing. The next is finding an agency that can produce the high standard of branded product you need. Good content marketing agencies will ask for brand engagement before they begin producing content for you.

An organized and prepared agency will also ask you to decide on a style guide of sorts before they begin writing. This style guide will tell them what type of tone, voice, grammar, and overall feeling your brand expects in their content. By setting these expectations before writing, you can make sure your agency is producing a unified message that fits your branding and content needs. 

Production Process

The last step a successful content marketing agency will take to prepare your content is to suggest an editing process that utilizes your branding team. This editing process is not for catching spelling mistakes or pondering word choices. Rather it is for gauging the message and style of the content before it is published. This type of editing process is crucial for two reasons.

First, it ensures the content being produced is up to your business’s expectations. By having a member of your branding team look over the content you can be confident that the final product matches the style and voice you’ve requested to further your brand.

Second, by having your branding team provide editing and suggested changes, your content agency can begin to develop a deeper understanding of your brand. An agency that understands how your brand speaks can better produce content that matches your branding message. When an agency is able to develop their own understanding of the brand, your team will eventually spend less time and energy managing content as your agency’s comfort level and brand accuracy grows.

Effectively branded content, and the processes you use to create it, are the foundations of content marketing success. Your content agency should be able to provide you with methods and style proposals to make your content as effective as possible. Then, they should be able to adapt to your branding needs as they become more familiar with your expectations.

Good content agencies know—good content stems from branded and engaging creations. If the agency you’re looking at working with proves to you they understand this, then you’ve picked a winner. Download our free How to Choose an Agency guide for an agency scorecard and sample questions to ask along the way.

Rebranding Your Business In 2016: 5 Things To Consider

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The most overused tagline for advertising around the new year is “New Year, New You.” Moving to a new year suggests to us that we can start over and do some things differently. For businesses, a new year means new budgets and new strategies.

For some businesses, it means building a new identity through rebranding.

When discussing a rebrand, it’s important to look at your business and the industry to see what changes have happened. Rebranding is not something that should be done frivolously, because it is expensive and will have a lasting impact on your business. As such, it is in your business’s best interest to consider your reasons for rebranding. A rebrand does not provide your business with the direction and purpose; it happens because you have both of those. Maybe what your business needs is a refresh.

As you consider the reasons for rebranding, look at these five areas and the predictions for 2016 to help you not only decide whether to rebrand, but also know how to do it successfully.

Demographic Shifts Among Consumers

Demographic shifts are happening regularly as new groups step to the forefront armed with buying power and new consumer trends. Appealing to this new group of consumers is one of the most compelling reasons for a business to rebrand.

Many businesses have been content to market to those originally called Baby Boomers. Now known as the Aging Boomers, this consumer group will shift into an elderly group who are more concerned about living off their retirement fund and spending their fixed income on health care and other essential products. Your business will not be able to survive if you continue marketing to the same consumers.

Many businesses have already recognized this and tweaked their marketing to reach a new growing group known as millennials. Studies are predicting that by 2017, this consumer group will be spending $200 billion annually. If you are not reaching this group by next year, you will have lost your opportunity.

As you build your plan for rebranding, it is important to learn from your consumer and understanding how your brand will be relevant to them.

  • What do millennials value?
  • Do these value align with our brand?
  • What problems does our brand solve for millennials?

These are some questions to consider to help you determine how your brand can continue to market your products long-term to Millennials. You may discover that all your business needs to is to revitalize and create a new campaign that speaks directly to this new audience.

Personification of Your Brand

Your brand is more than your logo or your business’s name — it is your business’s identity. Going through rebranding process means that you need to give your brand an identity, complete with a personality, values and interests. Determining WHO is your brand is the only way to start differentiating your business from others in the industry.

There are various ways to identify your brand’s personality. These exercises can have you finding the car or celebrity that is most similar to your brand. For some businesses, personification leads to the creation of an easily identifiable character like the Aflac Duck or the Keebler Elves.

One of the most important brand characteristics for millennials is whether or not the brand fits their personality. Your business needs to have your brand personified in a way that will invite your new customer base in and make them just as loyal as they were before the rebrand. When you take a minute and strategically engineer your brand’s personality, you see what kind of customer experience you want to shape. This process will help you plan your strategy and define other aspects of your rebranding including communication.

All-Encompassing Communication

When you see your customer experience laid out, it becomes easier to identify every touchpoint for your new customer base. The most noticeable touchpoint is always the tone of the new brand’s communications directly to the customers.

The biggest headache for consumers is when a rebrand happens. There is a sense of betrayal as their favorite brand tosses aside everything that they used to know and love to try and get a new audience. The way your business communicates the story for the rebranding will determine your success of maintaining your current customer base while bringing in a new one.

A shining example of navigating this post-rebrand customer communication was displayed by Utah marketing agency Eli Kirk  following its recent acquisition of Riser and the rebrand that followed. The merging of the two firms into EKR meant merging customer bases, as well. Bill Brady, President and CMO of EKR, and his team knew that communication would be critical during the transition.

Accordingly, Brady and the folks at EKR crafted 50 case studies to serve as the foundation of the brand’s new website. Clients from both sides of the merger are featured in the content, so both groups  feel a continued partnership with the agency while gaining exposure to its expanded capabilities and clientele. Brady attributes an extremely smooth merger to the process of creating content that would make all clients feel at home while getting them excited about new possibilities for their own brands. “The content we created has made the transition extremely smooth. We haven’t dropped a single client—everyone is really excited about what’s happening,”   he said.

EKR case studies screenshots

The story is critical to be communicated, but also the tone and voice of the new brand will be the consistent thread to carry customers through the rebranding experience. Your customer needs to know from the beginning that their important values are not lost in this new direction.

Ever-expanding Technology

Technology has continued to play a big part in any business’s future. From the launch of Apple Pay this year and to the rise of Snapchat, there is always going to be a new channel or a new technology tool that will be adopted by your customers and may affect your business model. During the rebranding process, your business has to look into the future and consider how people may be communicating in the future.

This year, many websites were hit with Mobilegeddon and most experts express that this is only the beginning. If you haven’t considered mobile technology for your product or even website, you are already behind the crowd. When your business rebrands, you can make the changes to help your business grow in a new direction more quickly than if you had tried to do a refresh.

Content Remains King

Regardless of all these changes and meetings you are having, your content still reigns as king in the castle and cannot be neglected. Remember EKR’s case studies? Through content you will effectively communicate your new identity to your new consumers. You must make sure that your content remains true to your business’s values and purpose.

The rebranding process can also give you the chance to expand beyond your current content media and channels to your new audiences. Old Spice turned their business around and built a YouTube channel by rebranding through a campaign. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” video has now received almost 52 million reviews and their YouTube channel has amassed over 500,000 followers. Old Spice realized their rebrand opened new doors to sharing their content that made more sense for the new millennial audience.

The new year is a few weeks away and while others may be rushing to finish holiday gift shopping and plan budgets for 2016, it’s a great time for your business to take a minute and consider whether it’s time to rebrand. Or as others say, “Out with the old, and in with the new.”

Are You Creating A Positive Brand Experience?

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touch and feel bookRemember when you were a little kid and your mom gave you those “touch-and-feel” books? Or maybe your children currently read from those? The ones where it says “feel how soft the kitty is” and then you can pet some material that feels like a cat but doesn’t have fleas and doesn’t glare at you from across the room.

These books may be for kids, but the idea is pretty profound when it comes to your company and marketing. When that child pets the kitten’s fur in the book, they truly believe that it’s from a cat because it feels just like a cat.

When the word “brand” comes up in conversations with a company, other words accompany it like “logo” or “name recognition”. While these are part of a brand, there is more too it. Marketers sometimes call it the “look and feel”.

If a customer went to your website or social media pages, would they have the same experience? Are your social media marketers working with your webpage designers to consider color palette, fonts, and other design elements?

As you move your customers from social media to a webpage, you want to transition to be as subtle as possible. It’s not always possible when the social media platform doesn’t allow for too much customization, however the design is just a part of it. The tone, the language, the calls-to-action are all part of the brand experience.

Your followers trust you; that’s why they’re willing to be a fan. They expect a similar experience regardless of where they are interacting with you.

Some brands become so strong that the customer only has to see a graphic to know who created it. Many brand marketers will tell you that brand isn’t an identity; it’s the feeling that a person has that they associate with your product that makes a brand.

Oreo has a successful social media presence and not because it’s Oreos. They have created a brand that allows people to recognize the company and suddenly 3 million people crave an Oreo.

The logo. The colors. The font face. The design. Social media marketing doesn’t just mean putting up a clever and witty post every couple of days. All of this is important to creating a brand experience. The brand experience is about the positive touch points your brand has with the customers. The more positive interactions you have, the more likely you will win points and they will continue to buy your product.

Those kids keep coming back to the book because they love the feel of the kitten’s fur. What will they experience and love about your brand to keep them coming back?

Should You Purchase An Exact Match Domain (EMD)?

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On Friday, Matt Cutts (head of webspam @ Google) announced that there would be a small algorithm change that will reduce low-quality “exact-match” domains in the search results. Based on our analysis, this started to roll out late Friday into Saturday morning. It also looks like things are still moving around a little bit as of this morning. Here’s the announcement from SearchEngineLand.com

Some of you might be wondering what exactly an Exact Match Domain is, here’s the definition: any domain name containing the exact keyword phrase commonly searched in the search engines. Some examples of this would be:

  • SEO.com
  • WristWatches.com
  • WebHosting.com
  • DressShoes.com
  • Cars.com

In the past these have been very valuable assets to business as they have helped them rank higher in the search engines. As of Friday, this has changed a little bit. Google has been devaluing EMD’s that are low quality, meaning they exist just for the purpose of generating quick revenue. These sites obviously have no business plan, no marketing initiatives other than obtaining a high volume of search traffic, have little to no quality content, etc. This is why some EMD’s like Cars.com were not affected by the update. And others like BusinessLeads.com (who previously owned position #1 for business leads) dropped three positions.

So what does this mean for businesses. Well, if I were entering the online marketplace today, would I purchase an EMD to build my business on? Probably not. In fact, I would choose a domain name that means absolutely nothing… a domain name that is brandable and will be remembered by our visitors and members… hey… kinda like Stryde 🙂 We did that on purpose 🙂

What if my business already exists and has an EMD? Well, if it were me, I’d re-brand… TODAY!!! I, along with many of the leading online marketers believe this is just the first of these algorithm updates that will target exact match domains, so you might as well gets started with a re-brand as soon as possible.