Skip to main content Skip to search

Archives for Branding

6 Tips For Creating Promotional Business Banners That Work

We’ve all seen great banners, and we’ve all seen really bad ones. A great banner can be an extremely effective promotional tool, while a bad banner can leave an unpleasant feeling about your business. So what do you need to do to avoid getting stuck with a bad banner?

According to Craft Signworks, it is clarity, planning, and good sign design that makes all the difference in the effectiveness of any business signage.

Banner Placement is Key

Before deciding on the color scheme, text, font size, or even design, you must first determine the intended placement of your banner. Banner placement determines how close people will be to your sign, and how long they will be able to see your message. This determines both the size and amount of text your banner should have.

The physical environment where your banner will be placed impacts material selection, messaging, and design as well. Having this information ready for your sign manufacturer will greatly assist them in making the right recommendations for your banner.

Large, Readable Text is Best

A banner’s purpose is to attract attention from a distance, so large, readable text is vital. The University of Cincinnati research shows both customers and businesses believe legibility is the most important characteristic of a sign. Choose a font that is legible, easy to read, bold, and impactful. Handwriting and script fonts can look pretty, funky, or unique, but if they can’t be read, they have no business on your banners.

Text size is also important. Recommended text that is at least 3” tall for outdoor banners and 1-2” for in-store use. Going to small or too large can impact the ease of comprehension.

Simplicity Sells

The information that you need on your banner depends on your intended purpose and placement. Once you get a broad idea of what you want your banner to do and say, then you can pare that message down it’s simplest, most impactful form.

The recommendation is keeping your message to 1-2 lines of text for comprehension and visibility purposes. ‘SALE’ can be just as productive on a banner as ‘Labor Day Extravaganza! Buy One, Get One Free Sale on All Ladies & Kids Jackets!’

High-Quality Graphics & Photos

The physical layout and design of your banner depends on your messaging. If you are promoting a specific product or service, then a high-quality, attractive image of either your product or someone experiencing the benefits it provides can say more than multiple lines of text. If using an image, it needs to be clearly legible from the distance that your intended viewer will see it.

When purchasing stock photography for your banner, get the XL or Vector images for best scaling. Low resolution or small images will get distorted and pixelated when stretched to fit on a large format banner, resulting in an image that is hard to interpret, and potentially detrimental to your overall message.

Pick Complementary Colors with Meaning

A single background color instead of an image can often be just as impactful, especially for simple messages. Colors have different meanings and associations, so the colors that you choose for your banner should be based on the emotions you want to evoke in your viewers.

If you are promoting your brand outside of your business, choose colors that are in-line with your branding strategy. If creating a sign to use within your business, colors that contrast with your branding provide bigger impact.

Work With an Expert

A professional sign company can assist you with creating the perfect banner designs for all of your marketing, promotional, and brand awareness needs.

 

If you are looking to make business banners, FMB Consultant offer digital placement service to enhance your company brand. With a team of professionals and experienced accounting, allow us to manage your regular administration and bookkeeping needs, get you more time to focus on growing your business. For small talk or discussion please contact:

Partner,
Roy Saputra
roy@fmbpartner.com
+62 899 6777 879

Client Management,
admin@fmbpartner.com

Follow us on FMB Consultant official social media pages:

LinkedIn

Facebook Page

Instagram Page

Source: Digital Journal

Read more

How to deal with customers’ gripes

Apologising and applying a human touch are just two ways to stop unhappy punters taking to Twitter.

Remember the British Airways’ passengers who were stranded and separated from their luggage by a computer meltdown earlier this year? No amount of compensation would have made those passengers overlook their ordeal

Remember the British Airways’ passengers who were stranded and separated from their luggage by a computer meltdown earlier this year? No amount of compensation would have made those passengers overlook their ordeal

Read more

Digital Businesses: The Metrics That Really Matter

User-centric firms should identify and track the core actions that can make or break their businesses.

Traditionally, executives have used standard metrics, such as cash flow, inventory turns and operating income, to get a broad sense of the health of their firm. However, the game has changed with the rise of digital business models centered on the user. New metrics need to be devised based on the core user actions that drive value creation in such models.

Threadless, an online T-shirt retailer, crowdsources its designs from a community of designers and curates the best designs through a social rating mechanism. Threadless relies on two core user actions: the upload of new designs by designers and the voting on designs by the Threadless community. A failure by the community to provide adequate feedback on designs would discourage designers from uploading new ones in the future, leading to a downward spiral. To ensure a healthy and scalable business model, Threadless needs to actively minimise failure and increase repeatability of both core actions as they are intertwined.

In the digital world, users may also generate value without actively creating content, products or services. Netflix built out its DVD rental business model around the core user action of movie queueing. The queueing provided Netflix with the data it needed to predict actual demand across the country and successfully manage its central national inventory. The more titles users added to their instant queue, the better Netflix’s logistics performed as it benefitted from information on actual demand. Movie queueing was the core user action that drove value creation in Netflix’s business model.

Not all digital businesses are the same

Platforms are a specific type of digital business which often depend on multiple core user actions. To use the example of Facebook, users may post status updates, upload photos and react to content. As these actions cumulatively create value, they must all be highly repeatable. Facebook therefore tracks the ratio of daily active users to monthly active users, a measure of the proportion of its user base that participates daily. This aggregate measure makes sense since no single action accounts for the bulk of value creation. The higher the daily participation rate, the healthier Facebook is as a platform.

In the quest to emulate Facebook’s successful execution, many startups embrace this metric directly. However, it may not be as relevant for digital business models whose value creation chiefly relies on one or two specific core actions. A focus on measuring the failure and repeatability of these core actions would allow for a more precise execution.

Measuring core user actions is even more important in the case of multi-sided platforms. In such cases, it is essential to understand how the various participants co-create and exchange value. All sides of the market must succeed for the business to thrive.

Uber enables drivers and passengers to exchange rides for money and needs to manage both sides. Uber drivers perform two core actions: indicating their availability for booking and accepting booking requests. When a passenger opens the Uber application and sees that no taxi is available, or cannot secure a ride, the driver-side core actions are failing. If this happens often, it reduces the likelihood that the passenger will request a ride (i.e. repeat a demand-side core action). In time, this can reduce the number of total users and their level of interactions, or what is called the liquidity in the market.

Digital businesses are not static

Core user actions may evolve as a digital business matures and grows. When users first start interacting with a digital business, they may predominantly participate in acts of consumption. With more experience, they may progressively move towards acts of creation. To effectively guide a user from consumption to creation, a digital business needs to focus on different metrics across the user’s life cycle.

Users of Intuit’s TurboTax typically start out as consumers of the software, using it to manage their tax filing. Once this is done, some users stay on to help their peers through the tax-filing process, thereby creating value as a crowdsourced customer support for TurboTax. Intuit measures this conversion from consumption to creation to ensure the success of its model.

Firms that want to succeed with user-centric business models need to first identify the few core user actions that drive value creation. In multi-sided markets, these actions need to be isolated for all participants. The next step is to define metrics that help minimise the failure of these core actions and maximise their repeatability. Focusing on these metrics helps firms execute with precision, benefit from a virtuous feedback loop and scale up efficiently. It’s all about keeping the business humming.

This article is originally published and written by Sangeet Paul Choudary.

Read more

Measuring The Return on Facebook Likes

Marketers often find it hard to prove the ROI of social media investments. Here’s an easy way to quantify the value of recruiting people to like your Facebook page.

You will need:

A metric.

What is your goal in acquiring likes? Is it to increase sales, change offline behavior, or accomplish something else? Your Metric should reflect behavior that is measurable. For some metrics, such as sales, measurement is pretty straightforward; for others, such as brand attitudes, you may need to do extra work, such as administer a survey.

An invitation method.

You need to invite people to like your page. One simple way is to obtain e-mail addresses of people in your target market.

Then follow these steps:

Acquire likes.

Invite half your sample to like your page; this is your “treatment group”. The other customers form your control group. Record the group to which each customer is assigned.

Confirm your assumptions.

Check to see whether the liking induction worked–you need to make sure that a good chunk of people took you up on the invitation. You can approximate the number by looking at the increase in your Facebook followers at the time you issued the invitation.

Advertise.

Run some advertising on Facebook to expose your new recruits to your marketing messages. You can do this by paying to promote posts.

Check your response.

Measure the behavior you defined up front. Say it’s sales: If the average spend of those in the treatment group is higher than the spend of those in the control group, the difference is the value of a like. Of course, your results will contain some “noise”; for example, you might miss the purchases of people who check out using an e-mail address that’s different from the one you have on file. To increase accuracy, aim for a large sample size and make sure that your e-mail list as current as possible.

by Harvard Business Review Magazine, March-April 2017.
Read more

4 Cara Membangun Kepercayaan dengan Konten Autentik

Saat membicarakan branding, sekarang ini kita banyak mendengar dengungan kata kunci “Asli”, “Autentik” atau “Authentic“. Tetapi, apa sebenarnya maksud kata tersebut? Bagaimana brand Anda dapat menjadi autentik, terutama pada content marketing-nya?

authenticity-seal

Arti autentik yang sebenarnya bagi Anda

Karena kata autentik terlalu samar, sehingga rasanya sulit untuk menjelaskan, namun hal ini dapat diambil sebagai menciptakan nilai untuk khalayak tanpa motif-motif tersembunyi. Sudah pasti, bahwa Anda ingin konsumen yang lebih banyak. Konten Anda tidak harus selalu terlihat sedikit beriklan, sebaliknya, Anda harus berikan informasi yang bermanfaat untuk konsumen dan calon konsumen Anda. Anda tidak sedang mencoba untuk menjadi brand yang bukan Anda sebenarnya. Anda harus tetap jujur dan sejalan dengan visi perusahaan Anda dan menunjukkannya melalui konten Anda.

Menjadi asli, autentik bukan berati melakukan gimmick atau sesuatu yang gila seperti Burger King Amerika yang meretas halaman utama Google dengan iklannya. Autentisitas sama sekali bukan berarti pencari-perhatian atau off-the-wall. Melainkan, nyata dan nyaman. It’s real. It feels comfortable.

Lalu, bagaimana Anda dapat membangun kepercayaan “trust” melalui konten asli atau autentik?

1. Pahami Khalayak Anda

Hal ini adalah satu dari sekian banyak tip yang selalu ada di artikel-artikel pemasaran, karena sebenarnya memang tidak ada yang lebih penting dari, bersungguh-sungguh memahami konsumen Anda. Apa yang mereka pentingkan? Apa saja pertanyaan mereka yang dapat Anda jawab melalui sebuah konten? Bagaimana meyakinkan mereka akan nilai brand Anda yang sesungguhnya?

Anda akan menyadari bahwa tidak ada satupun dari pertanyaan-pertanyaan tersebut yang berkaitan dengan produk Anda. Memahami konsumen Anda adalah sebagian dari menjadi panutan masyarakat. Lebih banyak bertanya dan mendengarkan orang lain ketimbang hanya membuat asumsi-asumsi dan bicara saja.

2. Buka dulu Topengmu

Bukan hanya menjadi judul lagu, banyak brand yang menggunakan ‘topeng’ agar terlihat lebih profesional. Mereka tidak melihat pentingnya membiarkan para konsumen berada di jantung bisnis mereka. Namun, seringkali itu adalah bagian dari cerita Anda, dan cerita Anda-lah yang orang inginkan.

Bila Anda memiliki ide untuk bisnis Anda saat tidak sengaja terpleset di tangga, mengapa tidak berbagi cerita yang sangat manusiawi tersebut? Bila setiap hari Jumat para karyawan Anda berseragam seperti laiknya pahlawan super, itu adalah visual yang sangat baik yang dapat mengubah perusahaan Anda menjadi sekumpulan yang lebih ‘manusia’. Jangan jauhkan diri dari khalayak Anda; sebaiknya, berbincanglah dengan mereka.

3. Jadi Konsisten

Jika Anda melihat kesuksesan dalam tulisan yang sangat panjang, mendalam, teruskanlah perjuangan Anda. Atau saat orang-orang tiba-tiba menggilai tips harian Twitter Anda, cucilah tulisan Anda, keringkan, dan ulangi hingga menjadi sebuah konsistensi. Orang-orang akan mulai memercayai brand Anda saat mereka tahu apa yang mereka harapkan dari Anda, jadi buatlah konsistensi sebagai kunci ketimbang menjadi berantakan dan bereksperimen pada apa yang akan menjadi tren.

4. Berani Menghadapi Kesalahan

Karena brand juga dibuat oleh manusia, dan jelas bahwa manusia pasti berbuat kesalahan, maka itu sangatlah manusiawi. Entah itu kesalahan dalam mengeja pada tulisan blog Anda, atau kesalahan informasi yang Anda bagikan, jangan pernah menutupi kesalahan dengan balasan dingin dari perusahaan. Minta maaflah, (“Ups! Ada yang salah. Kami mohon maaf.”) kemudian beranjaklah.

Menjadi asli atau autentik sederhananya adalah menjadi jujur kepada sifat alami brand Anda. Harus terasa organik dan ringan.

nuts-pistachio-dry-roasted-without-salt-added-nutrition-self-a-super-easy-hack-for-making-extra-special-ice-pops-play_nutritional-value-of-dry-fruits_molecular-weight-no-what-vitamins-spe

Bila Anda sudah, baru saja, ataupun sedang menjalani bisnis, tentu sekarang ini Anda memerlukan konten pemasaran yang ideal dan sejalan untuk mendorong brand Anda. Konten pemasaran yang ideal akan menyentuh target khalayak yang tepat dan branding yang terpercaya. Namun bila Anda terlalu sibuk dan belum memiliki karyawan yang dapat membuat konten pemasaran sesuai yang diinginkan, FMB Consultant menyediakan berbagai jasa layanan branding untuk bisnis Anda; corporate identity, branding exercise, website development, business proposal, digital placement, content management dan social media activity.

Untuk pertanyaaan lebih lanjut mengenai layanan kami, Anda dapat menghubungi kami di:

Ivan Liyanto,
Managing Partner
P: +62 899 6777 879
E: ivan@fmbconsultant.com

Client Management
P: +62 21 390 8310
E: admin@fmbconsultant.com

Ikuti blog dan media sosial kami untuk artikel-artikel terbaru!

Website

Official LinkedIn Page

Official Facebook Page

Artikel ini diterjemahkan dan digubah oleh FMB Consultant dari PRNewswire.

Read more

Commodifying Your Knowledge For Scalable Personal Branding Impact

What kind of edge does specialist-level know-how give you in the workplace today? In the age of nearly instant and virtually limitless content discovery, it’s gotten more complicated.

Today we’re seeing a shift from the old concept of “knowledge worker” to the newer model: the “learning worker.” We no longer hire people for their skills – we hire them for their potential. This shift is helping to support a multibillion-dollar e-learning industry, spawning tons of opportunity for people to build viable side careers – and to add to their authority at their primary jobs – by commodifying their knowledge.

That isn’t to say that the people who build personal brands through online courses and content have it easy. The new generation of “knowledge brokers” face several key challenges. Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening in the industry and how to avoid the associated pitfalls.

The End Of The Knowledge Worker

Until a generation ago, specialized knowledge workers had the ability to amass a vast deal of information on a particular topic, and that knowledge became a marketable asset for employment.

One of the clearest examples of this can be found in the apprentice concept, which was a powerful force in people’s careers. Toil under the guidance of a master, learning all the ins and outs of a particular field, until you reach the status of journeyman. It was only at this point that you could strike out on your own.

This idea carried over to the idea of entry-level positions in offices, leading to increasingly specific knowledge-based roles. Lately, though, companies are saying goodbye to knowledge workers and embracing “learning workers,” those people who can learn, in real time, the technical aspects of the job they are assigned to do. In other words, your ability to quickly learn something new is often more important to your career than your existing body of knowledge.

Futurist Jacob Morgan, the author of a highly popular career newsletter I follow, notes that in today’s business world, there’s no need to be an apprentice and work your way up, since “all you need to be the smartest person in the room is a smartphone.”

Knowledge Brokers And The ‘Imposter Syndrome’

With all those workers seeking e-learning opportunities, an entire industry has sprung up to deliver. And it’s all fueled by the new knowledge brokers: online course creators who commodify their knowledge and use it build an authoritative and monetized personal brand.

In 2015, the e-learning market was worth an estimated $165 billion, and the latest predictions claim that the e-learning economy is set to grow by 5% per year for the next seven years. That puts the market at nearly $240 billion by 2023. Corporate e-learning has grown 900% in the last 16 years, with over three-quarters of U.S. companies offering online training for their employees’ professional development.

As I started looking more closely at this industry, I was impressed with what Kenny Rueter, co-founder of Kajabi, was doing. I reached out to Rueter and learned that Kajabi’s customers have collectively made more than $400 million selling online courses.

People from all over the globe are making money by selling their knowledge using any number of platforms, and yet Kajabi’s impressive growth rate has landed the organization on the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing software companies for two years running.

What’s the key to their success? Rueter believes that it all comes down to the way he helps content creators get past that first huge roadblock – what Rueter and others call the expert trap, or the imposter syndrome. “Almost anyone who has achieved success or mastery at some level has likely read and learned from others along the path,” Rueter told me. “This results in the view that those sources are ‘experts,’ and feeling like an imposter at the idea of teaching others.”

In my experience as a coach, I see this all the time. I recently came across the writing of Sarah Cordiner, who offers knowledge brokers insights and technical advice. The best way to avoid feeling like you’re a faker, notes Cordiner, is to remember that no one’s know-how is without gaps altogether. “Here is a simple fact: It is impossible to know everything about a topic,” she recently wrote in EdTechReview.

“Remember that you do have a message,” she counsels, and that your knowledge does have “the power to transform lives, businesses and industries.”

Planning For Success As A Knowledge Broker

As learners absorb these vast amounts of knowledge content, there’s a second potential roadblock for course creators. Sites like Udemy, LinkedIn’s Lynda and others are popular places to create online courses, but they aren’t necessarily ready to help course creators scale and leverage success in the long term.

Building your business on any platform with a “marketplace” business model is bound to have its drawbacks. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met an incredible course creator who’s lost the audience they built when they found out they couldn’t migrate it off of a course marketplace they didn’t own,” says Rueter. “Or worse yet, they create their life’s work, their magnum opus, only to be told it’s now $7 for the Memorial Day Sale. Ouch!”

That’s why Rueter recommends that knowledge brokers make the commitment to success early on, by creating course materials on a platform that they can control, manage and market themselves.

The growing e-learning market is creating almost insatiable demand for online learning. Industry expert and analyst Andrew Fayad calls it “the Netflix effect” and counsels content creators to create “binge-worthy” digital learning, starting by building a solid library of content.

The growing market for e-learning really is creating an almost insatiable demand. The more information we have at our fingertips, the more we want. In this environment, we see a perfect opportunity for the new knowledge brokers to thrive.

 

Source: Forbes

Read more

A checklist for brands to do during Ramadan

Ramadan is a significant month for brands to communicate to their target audience, in a way which would not be hard selling but where they give back to the community. On social media, we see several campaigns which revolve around the Month.

In order to do this, brands need to understand and respect the culture of the region. On social media, timing the posting of content is crucial to capture attention. Especially for food brands, marketers should be sensitive to the fact that people are fasting and schedule their social media content accordingly.

Here are a few tips on how brands to market themselves during Ramadan:

Bloggers

Invite food and lifestyle bloggers for Iftar tasting sessions, so they can blog about the best places to have Iftar and Suhoor during this month. With several F&B concepts having a customised menu for Ramadan, it’s crucial to make your brand stand out.

Social media ads

People need to be made aware of offers during the month and the best way to catch their attention would be through targeted social media ads using geo-location and demographics.

Video Content

Create customised video content to show the USP of your brand and what they have to offer during this month. Ensure the content does not engage in hard selling and you are giving back to the community.

Corporate social responsibility

Ramadan is when you bring people together. Brands must respect that and contribute to the community, and especially the needy.

Retail outlets

Showcase their latest collection during Ramadan to utilise the upturn in buying. Use features like Facebook Live to showcase what you have to offer.

Make the most of togetherness in real time

Encourage your audience to bring their friends and family together, be it for a family gathering or an Iftar. Brands organise a lot of meeting ups during the month.

Deploy omnichannel marketing

Ensure you connect with your audience on several platforms with a combination of online and offline!

Night markets,

are a huge trend. Brands should look out to participate in these.

Prayers in a mosque by kyrsos on flickr.

Prayers in a mosque by kyrsos on flickr.

During Ramadhan spending usually surpasses cash payment ability. People start to think about using credit card services. A survey from showed a 60 percent increase in credit card payments during the season and a 20 percent increase in credit card promotion, as told by Google Indonesia e-commerce head Henky Prihatna.

The newest data from Google on consumer behavior during Ramadhan shows that data searches on topics related to the biggest celebration in the country increased up to 28 percent and spending increased up to 30 percent. Sales fashion was the largest product category with a sales increase of 180 percent, followed by home appliances with 100 percent and cellular phones with 80 percent.

The travel industry often makes the most of this month. The latest Google data based on analysis of travel behaviour last year shows that searching for flights and hotels rises significantly.

 

Source: Jakpost and Gulfnews

Read more

7 Top Tips for Social Influencers in Ramadan

Influencer marketing is a relatively simple but incredibly effective form of marketing that focuses upon specific key individuals rather than the target market as a whole. But who is an influencer?

7 top tips for social influencers in Ramadan

According to The Word of Mouth Marketing Association Handbook, social media influencers can significantly shape the customer’s purchasing decision and has a greater than average reach or impact in a relevant marketplace.

High potential

The potential of social media influencers is more important now than ever, with mobile technology playing a key role in consumers’ decisions across the MENA region, according to new research by Facebook.

Ryan Holmes, author of The 4 Billion Dollar Tweet, says: “For company leaders, not understanding social media now represents a serious business liability. Being able to personally leverage platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is a foundational leadership skill. The question is no longer if leaders can afford to be on social, but whether they can afford not to.”

Facebook data shows that conversations about Ramadan started early this year and are expected to last for nine weeks on Facebook among the UAE’s 8.4 million monthly active users.

7 tips for Ramadan

Here are some tips for influencers to maximise interactions with people during Ramadan:

1. Facebook is where decisions are made: Whether it’s travel transactions and late-night shopping or discussing the challenges of Ramadan fasting and health and fitness, Facebook is where people come to make decisions or seek advice. As well as reaching a broad audience, consider the tools and solutions that can drive specific actions. And think about the peak time to engage your audience.

2. Inspire on Instagram: The creative nature of Instagram makes it the perfect place to inspire. Compared to Facebook, Instagram sees a higher concentration of conversations around Iftar, desserts and recipe ideas, as well as fashion, cars and home. While Facebook shows Ramadan as it is; Instagram shows the Ramadan that could be.

3. Trailer Your TV Show on Facebook: With more 100m hours of video watched every day, Facebook has become a powerful mobile video platform. And our research shows that video ads on Facebook act as a ‘trailer’ for TV, increasing brand metrics like recall and awareness. With conversations about Ramadan TV beginning at the end of April, it’s crucial that broadcasters tap into this audience to trailer their TV premieres. And thanks to our Reach & Frequency pricing, you won’t pay any more to reach your audience during Ramadan than any other time of the year.

4. Tell Stories with Instagram: More than 150 million Instagrammers use Instagram Stories daily. And people are highly engaged with businesses. In fact, one-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses. Stories are a great way to capture people’s attention and imagination, and it’s now possible to place sponsored content in the Stories section of Instagram’s homepage.

5. Make it Meaningful: In a mobile world, we have more opportunities than ever to reach people. But there has never been more competition for our attention. Today, relevance is key when it comes to cutting through the noise. That means taking advantage of Facebook’s people-based targeting tools, as well as developing creative that reflects people’s real interests. Start by using our Audience Insights API to find out more about who your customers really are.

6. People Love Local: When it comes to buying food or clothes, most people have a limit on how far they’ll travel to a store. With Facebook’s Local Awareness ads, all businesses can target people within a certain radius of their store, which means your ads will only reach the people who are most likely to take action.

7. Don’t Just Go Big – Go Global: Just a few years ago, most businesses were limited to serving customers on the same street, neighbourhood or region. But with more than 1bn people on Facebook connected to a business in another country36, it’s now possible for any business to reach people in a new country. With International Lookalike Audience it’s even possible to target people on Facebook in a new country who share similar characteristics to your current customer base, making it easier than ever to find low-cost leads.

 

Source: Ameinfo

Read more

A Lightweight Branding Exercise for Startups

A bottom-up, alignment-oriented approach.

Airbnb Branding Logo.

Airbnb Branding Logo.

While a logo might be the most recognizable manifestation of a brand, it’s only one of many. Brands cut across media, and present themselves in colors, shapes, words, sounds, and even smells. That’s because a brand, at it’s core, is immaterial. It’s about abstract attributes and values which present themselves in concrete ways:

  • Virgin America is about quality, fun, innovation, challenging assumptions. You can see it in purple aircraft lighting and quirky safety videos.
  • Honda is about affordable quality and trust. You can see it in reliable, albeit generic-looking vehicles, and simple and approachable visual design.
  • Ikea is about cost-consciousness, simplicity and togetherness. You can see it in incredibly affordable furniture, family-oriented stores, and approachable visual design.

Building a brand is a long-term commitment which results from thousands of interactions between a customer and the brand’s touch points over time.


“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
– Roy E. Disney


Startups lack the time to develop this relationship: it’s a race against the clock, and every dollar spent needs to bring the company closer to validation and traction. But users impressions — especially first impressions — matter greatly. How can a startup make the most of its branding efforts for the best results?

Here I describe a simple branding exercise I’ve used and evolved with the companies at Expa with success. It can help your team get into alignment and articulate the core attributes of your brand. The output will enable designers to define how it looks, writers to how it speaks, and for any vendor or team member to make coherent decisions by themselves. And it won’t cost you more than two 90-minute sessions and a few dozen sticky-notes.


The Basic Idea

This exercise has four phases:

  1. Brainstorm possible values and attributes for your brand
  2. Separate those into what belongs and doesn’t belong to it
  3. Group the ones which belong into abstracted groups
  4. Distill them into values, key attributes and analogies

Every brand stakeholder in your company should take part, so if your team fits in a room, get them of all in there. If it’s larger, get the people who’d be expressing the brand day-to-day: designers, marketers, executives, salespeople, recruiters. You can also bring whoever demonstrates interest — you want motivated people brainstorming. In any case, just don’t do this by yourself: you’ll end up with a limited perspective.

Once you’ve listed the participants, schedule a 90-minute block for the first session in a room with whiteboards or foam boards. Get plenty of colorful sticky-notes (at least 40 per person) and Sharpies for everyone. Don’t use fine point pens so ideas can later be read from a distance. Snacks could be handy too.

1. Brainstorming Attributes

For starters, keep in mind (and reinforce with the group) the basic rules of brainstorming: there are no bad ideas, and be additive to other’s ideas. Set a timer for 10 minutes to instill some urgency.

Start writing out random adjectives on stickies, words (simple, exclusive) or short expressions (gender neutral, on your terms) which could be used to describe your brand. As people write down each idea, they should say it out loud and place the sticky on the table, so others can hear it. This lets participants build on each other’s ideas.

People will be tempted to stick to “good” adjectives — like smart, professional, etc. Those can be acceptable, but also tend to be generic, which isn’t helpful in differentiating a brand. So try to include controversial or even silly ideas, just to get the discussion going. A few of my favorites are complex, hard, expensive, aggressive, powerful, for dummies, rough. They often cause people to write down the opposing notion — or something in between — , which leads to interesting discussions later on.

Throughout this brainstorm, make sure to keep people generative and on topic — no discussion about what works or doesn’t should happen yet.

After about 10 minutes, the popcorn might stop popping — ideas might start slowing down. If not, do another 10-minute round. Avoid stopping until after 2 minutes have gone by with no new ideas (the silence can be helpful sometimes).

2. Yeses and Nos

Next, write on opposite sides of the whiteboard, the words Yes and No. As a group, go take every single sticky note and agree on where it should go. yes means “this word could be used to describe our brand”, and no means, uh, no. Since you’re the facilitator, you might want to stand up and do the actual moving of stickies, but everyone’s participation is encouraged.

Yes, no, and a tiny bit of maybe. You might notice how the concentration of magenta stickies on the no side. That was my color, and I deliberately suggested ideas which didn’t fit or where simply controversial, to spur discussion.

The discussions which happen during this step are the most important part of the process. There will be plenty of disagreement, which is healthy, but which needs to be sorted out. Some stickies might actually start on one side and move to the other (that’s why we’re using them!). When you hit a wall, try to deconstruct the meaning of the word in question. A few tactics I use:

  • Try to find a close synonym. Sometimes a specific word carries implicit meaning to some people, and replacing it with an equivalent can filter it out.
  • Use an antonym. If it’s clear the opposite of the original word belongs under yes or no, then it’s easier to place the original.
  • Separate the brand from the product. A product might be easy to use, but it doesn’t mean the brand make ease one of its core values.
  • Separate the brand from the customer. Your product might cost $5,000/seat, but it doesn’t mean the company should be perceived as exclusive.
  • Skip it and come back to it later. A word you discuss later might clarify the disagreement about the current one.

This process will take quite some time, and you should use all the remaining time in this session to finish this sorting. A few disagreements might remain unresolved, and that’s OK (up to about 5 or 6 adjectives — if you have a large “maybe” group, you probably haven’t gotten to the bottom of it).

You should be exhausted at this point, so call it a day. Document your board (photos are great, transcribing each word is ideal) and feel free take down all the stickies, but keep yes and no separate!

3. Surfacing Patterns

For the second session, get back to that same room and bring the yes stickies from before. This should also take 90 minutes, but it’s often done in less time.

This step is about organizing ideas in groups of emerging patterns, a process also known as clustering or affinity mapping. To get started, spread out all the yes stickies on a table.

Start picking stickies at random, and placing them on the board, grouping related adjectives close to each other. This might feel awkward in the beginning, but after 3 to 5 minutes the team will start to spot similarities, and tight groupings will emerge. You will probably see groups like these three:

  • Presentation. Visual ideas about style, color, light, polish, etc.
  • Tone. Communication-related adjectives such as voice, authoritativeness, friendliness, etc.
  • Personality. Human-like attributes, such as being expert-like, teacher-like, childlike, etc.

As well as other groups, mainly about values: abstract, almost philosophical notions — transparent, affordable, innovative, etc. These will probably be unique to your company’s mission or offering.

Try to organize all stickies on the board in up to 60 minutes. As groups become clear, write a descriptive name for it on the board (or on a different color sticky), above the adjectives. Once you’re done, your board should look somewhat like this, and you’ll be ready for the last step.

What your affinity map board might end up looking like. Note the different handwriting above each group: everyone is participating.

4. Distilling into Values

This is the last step, and the most analytical. Going through each of the groupings, transpose them to a hierarchical list in a text document, including titles and content. You can work off this template if you want.Example:

Visual

  • Clean
  • Bright
  • Colorful
  • Handmade
  • etc

Tone

  • Funny
  • Colloquial
  • Deferent
  • etc

If any of the groups doesn’t feel unique to your brand, ignore it. If it seems to be about abstract values, put it under a Values header, with all adjectives in a single line. Then, with the team, try to sum up what that group of values encompasses. Example:

Values

  • Safe, Secure, Trustworthy → Secure
  • Easy, Empowering, Low Barrier To Entry → Easy
  • etc

Then take another pass at the resulting list and, try to coalesce each group further. Aim to limit each header to 4 items, to ensure the result is actionable.

These attributes by themselves can still be a bit ambiguous. That’s when brand comparisons can be helpful.

Use the remaining 10 minutes of your session to add to the document a “Brand Comparisons” header. Under it, list at least 10 sentences using the format “More like ___ than ___”. You should fill in the blanks with other brands. But brands in the broadest sense possible: well known public entities about which there’s consistent perception between people. They should ideally not be in your industry, and can include celebrities, cities, typical dishes, etc. This part usually leads to fun discussions. Examples:

  • More like Google than Apple
  • More like Toyota than BMW
  • More like Tag Heuer than Swatch
  • More like Sketch than Photoshop
  • More like George Clooney than Ryan Gosling
  • More like burgers than sushi
  • etc

Try to get at least 15 of these; 30 if possible.

And that’s the end of the exercise, you should have now a document which looks roughly like this. It outlines your brand values, shows concrete ways those values present themselves, and anchors your brand relative to others in different spaces.

Conclusion

You could work with a branding agency for a richer — and more expensive — process, which could achieve more granular results. But you have little time and money to spend, and this will get you what you need to start establishing a brand.

Share that document with a graphic designer, and you can expect logo designs which fit your brand. Work from it with your marketing team, and it will be easy to define what language and tone to use.

Hopefully this exercise was useful. If you have any questions, please add them to the comments, or get in touch.

This article is written by Bruno Bergher and originally posted on his Medium.
Read more

Artcounting: Branding Yourself

Branding is very important. Everyone and every business has a brand. Including our accountants and consultants. In attention to branding creates a brand that might not be what you would like, but nevertheless you will have a brand. Branding needs deliberate attention.

A brand is an intangible image a company has. It cannot be felt or touched, it cannot be bottled or mass produced, and it cannot be changed without effort. Logos and trademarks are not the brand, but are evidence, depictions or reminders of the brand. You do not need a logo, but if used, it conveys the brand so it must be carefully chosen.

We work hard at supporting, strengthening and projecting our brand. And we do it all the time in all situations.

Trudeau

Here are some recent things our team did and that you can think about doing:

• Try to dress appropriately for the client, but a little more upscale. Wear fine ties to client that appreciates suites/formal wear and if you have a meeting and think about what to wear, with no doubt, always wear a Batik.

• When you go to a client meeting and have a memorandum that is more than two pages, prepare a cover with the client’s logo and have it bound into a booklet.

• Try to reply to every email saying that it has been received, and if a reply is needed, give a time or date. Always leave some lead time and make sure to respond sooner.

• When a response is needed, it is much easier to call with your personal answer rather than typing or dictating an email. If clients have their phone number in their email address, it is just one click away on the cell phone to dial the number. If client doesn’t answer, leave a brief message or ask for a call back.

Work primarily off your cell phone and always reachable with it. Now you should be very careful to call people who might need to call you back on your cell. When you have a direct dial number in the office, if you call from there, that number is not recorded on the receiving phone. Instead, your firm’s general incoming number shows up on their phone. Then, no matter what your message is, you get called back on the calling number, causing delays since it goes through the receptionist. If you are not in, they have to leave a message, when it is likely you could have answered the call on your cell phone.

• Sometimes you are home and need to call someone. Never ever use a home phone even if the land line is more convenient. If you do, that can become the number of choice or convenience for the person who needs to return your call, or to call you at some other time. This can invades your “personal” space and can clog up the home’s voice mail with business messages that should only be heard by you (not by family member).

• Work at showing “availability.” Do this by frequent calls to clients “checking in” or even stopping at their offices or factories if you are in their area to say hello. These 10-minute showing-ups work wonders in indicating availability and that you are thinking of them. You can also do this with referral sources such as attorneys and other accountants.

• Write frequent blogs and columns such as this. They can be serious, or some aren’t—and are designed to signpost your personality and interests. We believe this personalizes you and makes yourself more approachable.

• Buy and mail books to clients that you believe they would be interested in or enjoy reading. You do not have them sent directly to clients, but have the book sent to you and you repackage it to send out. When you can, mail it to the client rather than bring it to them. This indicates you were thinking about them afterwards and took the time to get the book and mail it to them. You can use POS, Tiki, JNE etc. Mostly using the one day delivery service such as Go-Send for mailing books can be more convenient when the address is not too far from where you/your office are.

• The type of car you drive also fits in with your brand. We won’t comment further on this, but keep this in mind.

• Perhaps one of the biggest brand establishers or busters is the person answering your phone or greeting a visitor to your office. Super important. For many, this is the first point of contact and first impressions are very important.

• Wrong spelling, especially a client’s name, is fatal. Bad imaging. Never let this occur.

• We take pains to dress well, but what about your briefcase or shined shoes or your beat-up old umbrella? These details are visual reflections of your brand.

We could go on and on with this and then establish a brand of being longwinded. The main point is the importance of working on your brand.

 

This article is re-written with some modifications and is originally published on Accounting Today by Edward Mendlowitz.
Read more