Tag Archives: Branding

Elements for the Perfect Logo

By: Gina Mason

What do Nike, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, BMW, ESPN and IBM all have in common? Well, besides being on Forbes 100 Most Valuable Brands List, they all have very distinctive logos that can instantly be recognized by millions of people all over the world. Logos are incredibly powerful and they not only dictate brand loyalty, but they can also dictate the success of a company. From a branding perspective, having a great logo is absolutely imperative if you want to stand out amongst your competition and appeal to your audience. However, coming up with that perfect logo isn’t always so easy. For those of you who are looking to create a new logo or rebrand, here are a few elements to keep in mind:

Aesthetically Appealing
Just like anything else in life, first impressions are extremely important especially when trying to make your logo aesthetically appealing to your audience. A good logo will trigger positive emotions in your mind and is more likely to create brand loyalty while a bad logo will do the opposite.

Relevancy
Your logo is your calling card and must be relevant to your audience and your industry. Your logo should be a visual representation of your business objectives and should speak directly to your audience. MagicDust Designers warn, “avoid unnecessary elements that may be visually pleasing but don’t support your message.”

Simplicity
Some of the best logos are simple (i.e. Nike “Swoosh”) and an understated logo isn’t always an understatement. Some of the most powerful logos in the world are incredibly simple and their simplicity make them extremely effective (GE, Apple, Disney). MagicDust Designers suggest, “Flat shapes, bold lines and clear type are hallmarks of simple logos that never run the risk of appearing busy or worse, confusing.”

Versatility
A good logo has to work well on a number of different platforms including the web, collateral materials and ads and this is not always something people account for in the planning process. The font should be balanced and readable at any size. Also, don’t forget about choosing the right colors. A full-color logo may not translate well to B&W or print as well on different types of paper so keep that in mind as well.

Timelessness
According to Huff Post’s Bianca Rothschild, “a good logo withstands the test of time. It may need some touchups to keep it fresh and prevent it from looking dated our out of style, but that’s all it should require. Changing your logo when it already has memorability in place is bad for your branding. You want one logo that works for as long as it can.”

Creating a great logo can take a lot of time and effort, but is it all worth it in the end. Don’t get discouraged and don’t be afraid to ask for several opinions. Speaking of logos, what to test your logo knowledge? Check out this logo quiz here: http://www.creativebloq.com/logo-design/quiz-can-you-guess-logo-1012976

I welcome your comments and as always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Advertisements

Getting Traffic to Your Website

By: MJ Pedone

How to get traffic to your website depends in part on your demographic, your niche and how you plan to monetize. But the main components for earning online traffic are pretty similar across the board and should include:

1. Growing a newsletter

This is, by far, the best thing you can do for your site. When you have email addresses, you can go right to the source instead of you waiting for them to find you. If you can email your readers, you will be able to encourage them to visit your site continually, building a loyal following over time. So building your newsletter list should be your number one priority. Display your sign-up form prominently on every page of your site. Offer a freebie for anyone who signs up. Collect emails like it’s your job because it should be your priority and share your amazing content with those readers on a regular basis.

2. Becoming active on social media

Don’t sign up for every social media platform out there. Instead, choose two or three channels and maximize them. Be strategic about which ones you choose; work the channels that make the most sense for your demographic.
In addition to sharing your own content, share others as well. Be generous, and use Twitter’s @mention or whatever the equivalent tag is on the channel you use so influencers notice you.
If you choose to use Facebook, expect to put some money behind your updates if you want to gain any traction as Facebook has lowered the reach on page posts in order to capitalize on advertising dollars.

3. Optimizing your content for search

The best thing you can do is optimize your headlines. Use Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends to figure out what terms people are searching for that relate to what you’re writing about and use them in your headlines. Don’t write for SEO; instead, write your content and then go back and tweak it so Google will feature you high in search results. If you do this consistently, you will see your organic search traffic increase. As that increases, more people will share your posts, more readers will sign up for your newsletter and you’ll see a high volume effect on traffic.

4. Getting back-links to your site

Building back links is an SEO tactic, but it requires its own strategy. When other websites link to your site, Google looks favorably on you and ranks you higher in search results. The bigger the publication that links to you, the more Google love you get. As an added bonus, when publications link to you, some of their visitors will hop over to your site, too.
How do you get back-links? Here are a few options:
• Write guest posts. Write them for free as long as you get a link back to the site in your bio.
• Get press. Convince other outlets to feature your story. One smart way to make this happen is by responding to HARO requests.
• Encourage organic link-backs. If you offer dynamic content and help people notice it through all the avenues written about, bloggers and publications will link to your content without you asking them. One way to encourage this is by writing a list post that features the best bloggers or resources in your niche. Because when you put someone on your list, it makes him or her look good and they will share it with the world, which will likely include a link on their blog.

When it comes to generating traffic there is a lot more you can do but if you find yourself strapped for time and money, these are great first steps to cover. Of course this all assumes you’re creating unique content that’s valuable to your readers and information people want to share with their friends. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that if you create great work, people will find it. The truth is, you have to help them find it.
If you don’t push yourself to spend time on promotion, your blog will probably rarely get read. If you do, your site will gain traction, traffic and influence over time, which will lead to all sorts of opportunities for your creative endeavors.

What have you been doing thus far to gain traffic to your website? Have you implemented any of the strategies listed above? As always, if you like what you read, be social and share.

Quick and Dirty Tips to Improve Media Outreach

By: Gina Mason

In honor of the release of Forbes’ annual billionaire list, I thought it would be appropriate to quote the world’s wealthiest man. “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” – Bill Gates

Mr. Gates knows the value in public relations and acknowledges that media attention is still one of the best tactics to get your brand/company/product out there to the masses. Yes, advertising and social media are extremely useful, but there is no better way to get your brand and message out there than receiving (free) attention in a newspaper, magazine or TV show. However, media outreach and attention can be very difficult to obtain if you don’t have an established PR pro utilizing their media relationships to get that next big media hit.

For those of you DIYers who don’t use a PR firm, here are 12 of my favorite tips from media guru, Jeff Bullas that you can employ to “establish, improve, and solidify your outreach capabilities.” (Caution: for best results leave the media outreach to the PR pros)

1. Be different. If you’re not different, there’s no reason for editors and publications to cover you.
2. Identify quirky components of your company (logo), CEO (hobby), or company culture (You don’t work on Fridays).
3. Find reporters on Twitter and use AllMyTweets to identify topics they like, dislike, etc.
4. Create Twitter lists of editors and reporters and stay informed of their interests regarding developing news and stories.
5. Set Google Alerts for key terms, so you can stay informed about stories the reporters think are important.
6. Set Alerts for names of editors and reporters too to see what they’re writing about (Share their work too!)
7. Read reporters’ articles, blogs, and tweets. Mention their work and create a greater sense of context and logic regarding the reason for initial contact.
8. You’re supplying information but editors are well aware of the benefit of news coverage. Thank them for their time and for (even) considering your input.
9. Provide multiple opportunities for contact – include work email, cell phone, business phone, Skype, Twitter handle, etc.
10. Maintain an excel sheet of sites pitched and reporter contact information. Keep notes and dates (so you don’t re-pitch!)
11. When used for a story or article, become a marketer for them. Help spread the news!
12. Send a follow-up thanks.

To read the rest of Jeff’s article “50 Surprising Tips for Getting Attention in Mass Media” and see more of his great tips, visit:
http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/08/07/50-surprising-tips-for-getting-attention-in-mass-media/#pzFHefGpuLEUKWxR.99

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

5 Tips to Promote Online Events Using Social Media

By: MJ Pedone

Hosting an online event is an excellent way to call attention to your brand or company. But how do you standout so your event gets the attention and attendance it deserves?

First step, create a landing page for the event, as well as an event on Facebook and Google+. Next, if appropriate, create a signup on Eventbrite and/or other ticketing site. Then, send out invitations to your newsletter subscribers. These are basic steps for getting people to sign up, but there is much more work to be done.

Getting the word out about any live or online event is all about timing. The reality is, everybody is so busy with their everyday life and at times are overwhelmed. You need to put it in front of them in a way that seems natural and makes sense for them.

Here are 5 ways for promoting virtual events, which can be used to promote live events as well.

1. Create an Event Hashtag. And Tweet Often. I’m a big believer in event-specific hashtags. Social media is also a great way to spread the word ahead of time. An easy idea is to send out separate tweets naming each speaker with their twitter handle (but not leading with the handle, as Twitter sometimes channels them just to that person). The great thing–if the speaker is Twitter-savvy, he/she will retweet it to probably a larger group of followers than you have.

2. Plan. Prepare all social update texts and images beforehand. I recommend sending status updates at least twice a day and start these updates at least two weeks in advance. Use images while posting about your event on Social networks because pictures attract a lot more visitors than just plain text updates.

3. Be Specific and Be Social. Spend the most time finding the right audience(s) and catering the message for them. Often times, people want things to appeal to everyone … but that doesn’t work. Find groups that would be most excited about the event and get them talking about it; they’ll invite their friends and spread the word. Find clever ways of getting people to talk about the event such as asking questions, getting people to like, retweet/share, having interesting/humorous information, and so on. The more people interact, the more your message will be shared.

4. Ask for Help. One of the keys ways I have found in getting social media buzz is to get others to do the buzzing. Asking related (but non-competing) organizations to promote an event is painless and they’re often happy to do it. Just remember to return the favor since these can be valuable relationships for both companies.

5. Don’t Forget about LinkedIn. Post the event details and RSVP link (if applicable) on your company page. Ask all your colleagues and friends to like that update. Also, share that post in related groups as this will help your post get more exposure and will eventually increase the attendance. This will help you gain additional attendees.

A successful event will increase your company’s visibility while providing a valuable resource. The key to promoting an event is to be active and constantly engaging your audience. Need help with an online social media event strategy? Feel free to contact us and if you like what you read, be social and share.

2015 Super Bowl Ads

By: Gina Mason

The Super Bowl is upon us and on Sunday, millions of Americans will tune in to watch the New England Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks in the ultimate football showdown. Outside of the game, “deflate-gate” and the excessive amount of beer, pizza and chicken wings that will be consumed on this unofficial holiday, there is also another competition that will go on while the players are off the field. The battle of best Super Bowl commercial is always ultra competitive and the stakes are high, as advertisers have to capitalize on the only time of year where people actually want to watch commercials.

Over 110 million people will be watching to see which big brands will come up with the most innovative, clever or cute commercial of the year. However, it is not cheap for these brands to shine on the big stage and get international exposure. According to TIME.com, “This year, a Super Bowl ad costs roughly $4.5 million for 30 seconds of air time, up $500,000 from 2014.”

With that kind of money being shelled out for 30-second spots, viewers can expect big things from this year’s commercials. According to TIME.com, beer, cars, chips and half naked women will not dominate the themes of this year’s Super Bowl commercials. There will be a number of new brands such as Wix.com, Loctite, Mophie, Buzzfeed and The Verge that will all make their Super Bowl debut and bring some fresh campaigns and ideas to viewers. Also, ads wont be limited to TV screens. With high advertising rates, the power of viral videos and online streaming, many big brands are steering towards the digital market and using social media to get their message out there instead of paying millions for primetime spots.

To help get your head in the “commercial game” for Sunday, here are a few Super Bowl ads that came out early for your viewing pleasure:

Bud Light – Real Life Pac Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9A1NowrnGI

Dove – Real Strength Men + Care: http://youtu.be/QoqWo3SJ73c

GoDaddy – Journey Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1422327029&x-yt-cl=84838260&v=X2AHrCtOHqc

Skittles – Super Bowl Tailgate with Kurt Warner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1422327029&x-yt-cl=84838260&v=Gj_Dqkpzv1g

Victoria’s Secret – Angels Playing Football: https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-cl=84838260&feature=player_embedded&x-yt-ts=1422327029&v=S5-sx-Qgd_M

T-Mobile – Kim Kardashian and #KimsDataStash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1422327029&x-yt-cl=84838260&v=ZTwzsV3I3OQ

Based on the previews, which brand do you think is going to take home the title of “Best Super Bowl Commercial” this year? What do you hope to see from this year’s ads? Most importantly, what is your prediction for the big game?

I know I am looking forward to watching Tom Brady hopefully take down the Seahawks and of course, the squeal of Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” commercial from last year. I hope you all enjoy the game and commercials on Sunday and stay safe!

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

McDonald’s New Transparency Campaign

By: Gina Mason

They say that, “desperate times call for desperate measures,” and it appears as though the world’s largest fast food chain may be facing some hardships. With sales and stocks declining, McDonald’s has been testing out a variety of tactics in hopes to keep people coming back to the “Golden Arches.”

From changing up the way in which the food is served to restructuring their messaging, the fast food giant has been trying to keep up with the ever-changing eating habits of Americans. Today, we are living in a much more health-conscious society where people are concerned with things like gluten and want to be educated on where their food came from, how it was raised and how it was prepared. This presents an issue for companies like McDonald’s where their food items are mass-produced and they may not be as willing to share the way in which they make/create their menu items.

In an attempt to remedy this issue, McDonald’s launched a new multimedia campaign called “Our Food. Your Questions,” in an effort to be completely transparent and answer the questions of customers and critics alike. The campaign asked people to tweet their questions such as, “Why can’t I get a McRib year-round?” and “What is actually in a Chicken McNugget?” to create an open dialog. In addition to trying to engage the public, McDonald’s has been in the process of releasing a series of videos answering some of the questions that have been submitted.

This week, McDonald’s released another video that revealed the contents of their famous Chicken McNuggets. What was once rumored to be made of “pink slime” and mystery meat, the McDonald’s dispelled the myth by taking viewers “behind-the-scenes” to show them the process of the nugget-making at a Tyson plant in Tennessee (that uses real chicken, SHOCKER!). This is just one of many videos that will be released during this campaign with the goal of showing people they offer “quality” food.

However, I personally question if the decline in sales is due to the validity or transparency of how the food is made or if it is attributed to the lack of healthy menu items. While, I have consumed many chicken nuggets in my lifetime, the reason I no longer choose to eat at McDonald’s is because the food on the menu is so unhealthy. Whether you are eating a salad or a Big Mac, the calories and fat content in almost all of their items is very high. While I applaud their efforts to be transparent, I think they need to add more healthy items in order to get people coming back for more. I will be interested to see how this campaign works out for McDonald’s and to gauge the public’s reaction.

To learn more about McDonald’s campaign, check out their Our Food. Your Questions website: http://www.mcdonalds.com/content/us/en/your_questions/our_food.html

What do you think of McDonald’s transparency campaign? Does it change your feelings on the brand? Do you think this is helping them or hurting them?

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Customers as Content Co-Creators

By: Jenifer W.

Content is currency in the digital age and a great way for brands to keep content fresh and relevant is with crowdsourcing and user-generated content (UGC). User-generated content stems from the basic principle behind word-of-mouth marketing: Peer recommendations are incredibly influential and provide enhanced credibility. It makes the brand feel more personable and approachable, its campaigns more authentic and builds loyalty among its fans. Brands should welcome customers’ excitement to be co-creators, co-innovators and even evangelists by launching new campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. As per Nielsen, 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust ads.

In order to achieve a deeper level of customer engagement and brand loyalty, brands need to humanize by connecting with customers on a personal level. UGC campaigns are an excellent way to collect creative material for marketing purposes, get photos of your products in use organically and drive engagement and sales.

Here are three great examples to get ideas flowing and start taking advantage of interactive social media to engage customers directly in developing more impactful and personal brand stories.

Celebrate Your Customer and Let Them Help You Tell Your Story
Consumers are already talking about you and your products online; you need to be leveraging that content. The value returned is often that people associate good things with and return to engage with the brand.

Recently, Starbucks harnessed the power of UGC to boost engagement with their “Meet Me At Starbucks” campaign, capturing real stories from real people and weaving them into their marketing campaigns. It chronicled a day in the life of a Starbucks through a mini-documentary, shot in 59 different stores in 28 countries. Starbucks said the campaign aims to show the “beautiful moments of connection between our customers around the world.” Anyone can participate by telling their story and sharing it on social media, turning the campaign into an interactive, multi-dimensional experience.

Crowd Source Creativity
All brands can benefit from added visuals in their marketing efforts. Why not run contests for your fans to show off their artistic skills? Not only will the opportunity create major buzz, but it also will inspire more brand loyalty. Personally, I really love what Creative Allies does for musicians and artists.

Creative Allies is a community of designers who enter contests to create artwork and merchandise for bands, films and festivals. A fan creates artwork based on criteria determined by the brand for posters, t-shirts, hats, lithographs or other merchandise items. They submit their design to the site, then get their friends to vote on their submissions for the chance to win prizes, sell their stuff and get their work noticed. For each contest, at least one grand prize winner is selected by the contest holder and awarded a cash prize and other goodies like tickets, merchandise and/or VIP perks. Additional submissions are selected to be sold in the Creative Allies Store even if they didn’t win a design contest. These items become official merchandise and profits are shared between the designer and the contest holder (the band, film or festival).

Inspire to Aspire
An active loyal community is very influential. Putting the spotlight on customers who live your brand, creates a “me too” response in others in their peer group. Just think of all the times you’ve seen a celebrity in an amazing outfit and feel that you need to own that dress immediately. When you find it online, it’s already sold out because your peers felt the exact same way. Smart brands are finding ways to utilize this phenomenon in inspirational ways.

Lululemon is all about living well, and to its consumers, wearing Lululemon is akin to a badge of honor, practically saying, “my body is a temple, and it can do amazing things.” They turned the positive feeling associated with the brand into a campaign, #TheSweatLife. Customers were asked to tweet or Instagram photos of themselves getting their sweat on and exploring the world while decked out in the company’s products. The images which were collected via the hashtag and posted to the Lululemon website, where they are a permanent inspirational fixture.

User-generated content is flourishing with the rise of mobile, emerging technologies, and social platforms. Building a campaign around crowd-sourced content serves as a genuine way for brands to engage with their audience and is a refreshing departure from traditional one-way messaging.

Have you run successful UGC campaigns for your brand? As always, I welcome your feedback and if you like what you read, be social and share.