25 Tips to be Consistent With Your Brand

Recently, I was researching a business and came across its Facebook page. The cover image was great + conveyed a strong message with the logo prominently placed. I know exactly who they are. But the little square profile image that shows up in my newsfeed is different (I noticed because I do branding). You know what though? New potential customers like you + me who like that page will never notice that brand’s updates in our newsfeeds because it’s the wrong, outdated logo.

On social platforms all we see is that little square profile image and if you have a different image, icon or logo then how do people know it's you

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The 5 Senses of Your Clients’ Brand Experience

By definition, brand experience is the perception that a customer develops from a brand’s various actions. It's all the touchpoints that a customer has with a brand. Touchpoint’s being websites, ads, commercials, packaging, customer service reps, etc. 

A customer’s brand experience stems from every piece + part of your business.

I’ve always had the philosophy that everything in your business...

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Get all Warm + Fuzzy: 3 Tips for a Stellar Brand Experience

You know that warm + fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve just popped into the Coach Outlet to grab a quick gift for your bestie {and happen to pick up a new wallet for yourself} and the girl that is ringing up your purchase is meticulously wrapping your gift {and your gift to yourself} in tissue paper with a little sticker and gingerly putting it in the bag?

That’s when you know you have had an experience.

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8 Ways to Think Like a Creative Genius

The pressure’s on.

There’s a deadline.

And you're looking at a very blank page on your screen.

For what feels like hours when it’s really only been like… 5 minutes.

You think, 'Why does this keep happening to me?'

Procrastination is your best friend and your worst enemy when it comes to writing, designing + creating.

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Brand Positioning: It’s not you, it’s me. Actually, it’s you. You’re boring.

Branding is a hot topic around these parts (parts = my office chair). I’m obsessed with lots of things but brand strategies is in my top 3 along with close, authentic relationships and ‘Hot Now’ Krispy Kreme Donuts. The inventor of Spanx is a billionaire because donuts {and bacon} are delicious (honestly, I can’t take credit for that one because I saw it in a birthday card the other day).

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Marketing Strategy: Tell a Story Pinterest Style

Pinterest Marketing Strategy

Hi. I’m Ronii. And I have a Pinterest obsession.

also have an elephant obsession, flamingo obsession and everyone knows about my crazy cat lady obsession, which you can find on my, you guessed it… Pinterest boards  There is no 12 step program for these addictions and I’m super excited about that. But I digress.

Recently I won this amazing Alesya Bag. How did I do that? My Pinterest obsession of course.

So Alesya Bags ran a contest on social media to tell them in 140 characters where you are going on your summer vacation and why you need an Alesya Bag for your trip. The top 5 most creative entries would win a bag and you can enter everyday until the finish of the contest. I’m sure that you are painfully aware as much as I am that 140 characters is short. Like Daisy Dukes kinda short. How am I going to tell my summer adventure in this short format and get the emotion I want across? Oh, and did I mention that you had a hashtag to use as well taking up even more precious characters? Yeah, that too. But...

Challenge Accepted.

Pinterest obsession rears its beautiful winning head with storytelling.

At B&A we have been using Pinterest for a variety of initiatives over the years. We use it as a collaboration and content distribution tool. Branding and vision boards are big for us and our clients and it’s an amazing collaboration tool for us to gather visuals that drive art direction. And like everyone else we use it to distribute our content like blog posts, products and ideas.

Since on Pinterest you can tweet your pins (or post to Facebook), I decided I wanted to use it. One because I wanted to tell a story and not just a tweet and two because I freakin’ love me some Pinterest. I figured why can’t I use Pinterest more like a storyboard rather than as a vision board and then tweet out each pin with a teaser to read that piece of the story?

I will admit this storyboard idea took some planning and definitely time, but I WON! And if I can utilize this strategy to win an amazing bag (which by the way I’ve been carrying for a couple of months now and want to marry it) then I’m sure I can use the same strategy to win audience engagement and hopefully customers. 

Tweetable: Utilizing Pinterest in multiple ways for business is a good strategy for winning audience engagement and potential customers

Tell a story with a Pinterest Storyboard  

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I planned out the days of the contest and knew that I needed about a post a day because I got an entry per day.
  2. I created a separate board that was named the hashtag and wrote a short description about what my story was about.
  3. I outlined the story by day so each piece of the story had one post. I started my story with an overview of everyone needs an adventure and why I needed an Alesya Bag for that adventure. Then everyday you got a little piece of the adventure until we got to the final days and I revealed where I was going on my summer vacation. I put these all in a doc so that it could make the daily task of posting a bit quicker.
  4. Everyday I pinned an image that correlated with that day’s piece of the story and used the pin description to write that day’s adventure. It was longer than 140 characters but it gave an expanded detail of the adventure and then I used the tweet this pin on my Pinterest app to submit via Twitter with a shortened version or teaser of that day’s adventure.
  5. The last day I gave the big reveal. But then after I found out I won. I did do a final post to conclude my story that I did actually win the bag because that was the goal of that board.

This strategy was so much fun to plan and do and it worked. We can translate this same strategy into a marketing campaign that tells a story rather than just pretty pictures and distributing content. It's a great way to engage your audience and then get them hooked on following the story and engaging with your brand. It could work for as a story countdown on a product launch (watch for this from us in the fall) or leading into a big announcement or sale. The one thing that I found to be a disadvantage is that if you go to the board because pins post by day the story on the board is backwards and you have to read the whole story from the bottom up. But the point is to get people to follow daily so that shouldn't have a huge impact. 

What do you think about this strategy? How will you use it? Do you have any other cool tips for using Pinterest as a business or marketing tool? Let us know in the comments and if you decide to run a story, post it here so we can follow it. I’d love to know your results. 

The Next Big Thing in Marketing: Crowdfunding

Last week I attended the Charleston AMA Signature Luncheon on crowdfunding. Have you heard of it? Of course you have. If not, you have probably heard of crowdsourcing. Whole different ball game. Crowdsourcing is the polling of consumer perceptions and trends (my marketing speciality) where as crowdfunding is more along the lines of a marketing campaign that raises capital. John Osborne from fundingcharleston.com was our speaker and talked about how crowdfunding can create brand loyalists. If you weren't there, you totally missed it. It was awesome! You should join AMA so you don't miss out on cool stuff like this. But I digress.

So, why is this important to you? Because as the marketing industry grows and evolves, marketers and business owners will look for new ways to reach potential customers. In the past few years social media has come on the scene as a marketing channel big time and we have all been experimenting with it to 'figure out' how we can make it work for our particular businesses and brands. While that has been great sometimes marketing strategies can get stale. Not your brand, your marketing (If you are little confused you can check out my article Make Your Brand Your Anchor and you'll understand what I mean.) And, I think crowdfunding is the next big thing in marketing communication to keep us fresh. And I'm super excited for it!

In 2012, over $2.7 BILLION were funded to projects. With platforms like kickstarter.com and fundingcharleston.com there are all kinds of opportunities for businesses to reach new audiences. Crowdfunding is the perfect opportunity to create brand loyalists. These are your early adopters and favorite-est (that's a real word that I just made up) clients. By getting them in as a "founding partner" on new products or services you make any cusomer brand loyal to your company. Brand loyalists will always have your back and they will talk and talk and talk about your company and really you can't get any better marketing than that (not that I'm trying to work myself out of a job but I kinda am).

While there are several different points to make a crowdfunding campaign successful, the biggest thing to start with is an amazing story. I preach this all the time - storytelling. It has to be compelling and concise because people love a good story but their attention span is only, like, 5 seconds. That is where a marketing and branding firm or copywriter comes in and can really help you hone that message (Ahem, someone like, I don't know, us. Wink, wink).

I love this idea of crowdfunding as a marketing and branding strategy. I think it gets back to the root of communicating a brand story and why businesses came up with concepts that solve consumers problems. And it makes consumers investors in products, services and brands they love. Hell, you may see one for B&A soon. Tell us, have you ventured into crowdfunding yet? What strategies worked for you?

xoxo,

Blurred Lines... Branding

Have you heard that new Robin Thicke song called “Blurred Lines”? It is like my new favorite song these days. The beat is amazing and it is REALLY risk-a (SHHH don’t tell anyone I secretly enjoy listening to dirty songs). Really gets me jammin’ while driving in the car or dancing around the kitchen while cooking dinner (yeah I might even break out stripper moves if I am by myself, can’t let me boys see me dance like that). Yeah, I have dance parties in my kitchen. My boys think it is hilarious, but never fails, they too join in by dancing around the kitchen with me.

So the other day while sitting at my computer working on marketing this and that, the song came on (yeah I listen to music ALL the time, helps my thought process… REALLY it does) and a thought occurred to me…branding can get blurry. You don’t want a blurry brand do you? Yeah didn’t think so. If you don’t want your brand to be blurry, don’t confuse your customers & clients by changing it around every month or have a different message on your different marketing avenues. Keep it the same throughout your marketing materials. You know… be consistent, and things won’t get blurry. Yes I am aware that we have talked about consistency before, and we are not afraid to keep reminding you either. Being fucking consistent, means no blurred lines in your brand. HMMM… imagine that.

We are always telling our clients here at B&A to think about what you do and why you do it. Use that to determine what your brand should be. It definitely shouldn’t be blurry. It should be straight forward. Now take your branding material and use it EVERYWHERE! AGAIN, BE CONSISTENT! Don’t switch it up and cause confusion. Don’t make it blurry. You don’t want to confuse people do you? Confusion doesn’t bring in the $$! Having a simple brand that isn’t blurred and being consistent with it brings in the $$.

At B&A, we strive to teach our clients this very SIMPLE technique. If you don’t learn anything else from our blog posts and marketing expertise, PLEASE remember this…

NO BLURRED LINES! AND BE CONSISTENT BITCHES!

And if you haven’t heard the song, go out and find it and dance around the kitchen or office until you become dizzy (you know you want to break out your own stripper moves now) and maybe your brand will become clear and not blurred… then be consistent with it, maybe even a little risk-a…

Tattoos & Branding

Do you have ink?

Are you branded?

If you have ink you are technically branded. Hmmmm… if you have branded yourself, is your business branded too? Actually let’s hold that thought for a minute… I am the oldest out of 3 siblings and the only girl. I thought my dad was going to have a heart attack when he saw my first tattoo (which I got in my early 20s with my best friend). He never expected it from me… my brothers, yes, but not me. I am his baby girl. And yes, it is located in the small of my lower back. And, NO, its not a “tramp stamp” as they are referred to, but just a simple sun about size of a half dollar. Hey, I love sunshine and the warmth it represents. My best friend got one about the same size in the same spot. Awwweee, how cute are we? LOL!

So years go by now we are in our mid-30s and what do we do, we brand ourselves again. This time I got my sons' names scribed in an infinity symbol around my wrist connected by a heart, and my BFF (who, BTW, thinks she is a Rock Star) got a star on her wrist. AGAIN, Awwweee, how cute are we? (although this time we didn’t go together).

There is a lot of stigma associated with tattoos. WHY? It’s your body. If you want to brand yourself with something your passionate about, BY ALL MEANS GO FOR IT! I think tattoos tell a story about a person. What they like, what their interests are, who they love, what they love…. Even farmers tattoo (brand) their livestock. So it can’t be all that bad… right? (OK! OK! that was quite a stretch) But really, tattoos or branding illustrate your story. As a person, you are sharing what you are passionate about. Shouldn’t you do the same for your business?

Branding your business is a lot like tattooing (branding) your body. It shows your uniqueness and what separates you from the pack. It helps tell your story. It defines your personality. I mean really the list could go on and on. So don’t you want to tell the story of your business and show its uniqueness and what separates it from the pack? I know we do that B&A AND help other entrepreneurs and small businesses do the same. Hell, even Ronii and I show the world our uniqueness and personality and our story through our ink! And before it is all said and done, I am sure we will add a few more branding marks to our bodies.

Don’t be a Kumquat

For those of you who don’t know, kumquats are the wannabe cousins of an orange. It is the smaller, pain-in-the-ass to eat, looks like an orange but is so not an orange, fruit that leaves an awful bitter taste in your mouth. Let’s face it… they suck. In fact, kumquats can’t even grow from their own seed they need the rootstock, A.K.A the crap left behind from other citrus plants in order to grow. 

Kumquats come in more than just fruit form. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that kumquats can be people too. You know that telemarketer who calls the second you sit down to eat dinner? He’s a kumquat. Or what about the friend or family member that feels the need to forward every, I mean EVERY, chain email to you and their entire address book because they’re afraid that if they don’t meet the twelve person minimum they’ll never find Prince Charming? She’s a kumquat. Real life kumquats can do more than just leave a bad taste in your mouth. Sometimes they just make an eyebrow-raising decision. For example, take a look at exhibit A:

 

I mean…come on. I can’t be the only person that wants to shake Spermies and scream, “Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!” Now I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus here. The name is slightly unfortunate (but then again I can’t judge considering my last name is a dental product), but the logo, that’s some serious kumquatery. 

One thing this name and logo secured with its customers was brand recognition. This image will forever be embedded into our memory. But, is it for the right reasons? Do we remember it because it entertains us or do we remember it because we like the product or service? Did your last brand image decision leave a bitter, confused taste in your mouth or a citrusy, fresh taste? Regardless of your answer, there is good news: there is a way to avoid being a kumquat!

Be fresh, be inventive, be you, but most importantly be smart! Command attention from your sheer awesomeness not your awfulness. After all, who doesn’t want to be a juicy Florida orange over a sour kumquat? So when you’re sitting at your desk/table/creative spot and you find yourself in a bind, just remember: Don’t be a kumquat!

~Taylor

Oreos, Someecards, and Human Truth

Oh, Oreos. There are few things you can eat 30 of and afterwards still want more. There is something so powerful and dangerous to me about Oreos. It’s like I have an out of body experience and when I come back to reality, I’ll have just eaten 30 Oreos. The amazing part is, while I’m in this lofty, daydream-type trance, I am still able to dip in milk with precise calculation; the outcome being a not-too-soft but not-too-hard Oreo (per-freaking-fection). It’s a lovely and delicious thing. And I just let the guilt roll off of my shoulders and blame it on that devilish, overpowering trance. Ugh, Oreos. I’m afraid that when the day comes for me to get pregnant and deliver a child, I’ll have eaten so many Oreos during my pregnancy that I will give birth to an Oreo.

Do you smell what I’m stepping in here? Let me be clear: I LOVE OREOS. That much. I’ll bet anything that you have a food or dessert that you feel this way about. I wouldn’t consider you human if you didn’t. And that’s my point. Everyone’s afraid to talk about it, but we all feel it. The continuous hand-to-mouth motion and no urge to stop. No urge to fight it. We’ve all been there and that is what we like to call a human truth. Something that connects us in a fashion so deeply hidden by embarrassment or resentment or pressure to live ‘healthily,’ we rarely acknowledge it to ourselves, let alone discuss it with others. Enter the ecard.

They are breaking out onto the scene with tremendous popularity, each expressing one harsh, hilarious truth at a time. Some apply so accurately to me it’s as if I’d written it myself. Which is why, I guess, millions of people are slapping them onto Facebook and Pintrest like fake tattoos on a five year old. They acknowledge a deep, innate human truth that reflects on the surface as humor and so we can all laugh about it together even if it’s about a real fear or an under-the-table topic like gay marriage or baby poop or, well, an unmanageable sweet tooth so severe you need to work out five days a week to keep it at bay.

Here are some that I feel best reflect me and the truths that literally do define me:

Ronii didn't have as many Someecards on her Pinterest boards as I did because she's totally lame. But here a couple about her.

 

This human truth that I speak of connects us all together and is the perfect opportunity for your business to show that there’s a human behind it that is just like them. This is creating personality around your brand that consumers connect to on a more intimate level. We all know that people work with businesses they know, like and trust. Totally clichéd, but oh so very true. Taking your human truths that other’s can connect with is a great way for your customers to get to know, like and trust you. Hence, more clients with more work.

What are yours?

~Coco

All the Rage

I'm peer pressuring you into joining Pinterest! Go ahead. Do it! But seriously, all kinding aside, Pinterest is all the rage right now in the social media world. And your probably wondering what the big deal is and why should your business be aware of it and/or use it. Well, let me tell you. 

Pinterest is basically an online pin board. Kind of like you cork board you have above your desk that you put quotes and pictures of your family and kids on, this is a digital version that for the whole world to see. Why is this so important? WELL... the whole world can see it, duh. No, not really. But there are several different reasons as to why you might want to consider integrating Pinterest into your social media strategy.

First, it creates links back to your website. Let me explain this a little more in depth. We all know that links out in the interwebs are good for your SEO and driving traffic back to your site. If you are a business with a website and images on that website, you will want to create a pin board for your site and pin your website images to it so that if someone likes that image and clicks on it then they are taken to your website and hopefully will read it and/or buy from you. Score!

Second, people work with businesses they know, like and trust. Pinterest is a great platform to build personality around you and your brand. You can create different pin boards for all your and your teams interest and start pinning images you like to those pin boards and building your persona around those interests. For example, I have a pin board called I might be the crazy cat lady where I pin cute pictures of kittens because I just can't resist a cute kitten. My crazy cat lady pin boardI mean seriously, how can you resist? I also have other boards with my interests such as My Style, which is all the stuff that personifies me. And Inspirations that are all the sayings that I love. All of this gives you a little more insight into what kind of person I am and what kind of business I run.

On other application that has been great us here at B&A is utlizing pin boards as vision boards for clients' projects that we are working on. Vision boards have been in the marketing world for a long time and we utlize them for inspiration on projects. Generally, we have always went out to the web and captured pictures we want and put them in a document that ended up being huge because of all the images in it or printed them all out and put them on an actual bulletin board in the office. At B&A we have been using Pinterest insead because with everything being so virtual it is easy for anyone of us to pin an image on the board that inspires us from anywhere. Also, I can send that link to anyone I'm working with on the project whether they have an account or not and they can see the direction we are going with the project. I have a B&A Vision Board that is full of elephants and champagne. How freakin' cool is that!

B&A Vision BoardClient Vision Board for Logo and Website

We are obsessed with Pinterest. But we want to know, how are you using it?

 

The Authentic Why Process

We have a ton of stuff happening at B&A this new year. And we have been taking some time to really focus on the company and try and create some new systems and models. While going through this process, I was asked the question, "why are we the next big thing in the marketing world?" I had to come up with an answer. And fast. While I'm very good at explaining to people what B&A is and stands for, I had never really coined a term for it. And while I was writing a one page synopsis of it all, I found it. We work in the "authentic why."

WTF is that? Let me explain a little better how this came about. I have been obsessed with TED Talks lately and I came across one with Simon Sinek called How great leaders inspire action. The big take away in this talk is that "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." Its a simple enough concept. But so many businesses don't approach their marketing or communications this way. They tend to take the status quo route because we are trained to be normal and blend in with everyone else.

I took this "why" concept and made it my own. I have said it before and I'll say it again, I believe that to be successful you have to be true to who you are. I have talked about transperancy as a marketing strategy before and letting that drive marketing and brand communications and company culture. So, I took Simon Sinek's concept on people buy "why" and my believe that you should be true to your inner rockstar and came up with the "Authentic Why Process" that B&A follows. I mean it is natural that the two go hand in hand with one another. Not only do we follow it internal for ourselves, but this the process that we lead our clients through to discover their culture and build their brands. It's who you are. Why you do what you do. What you believe. It's those words that you keep saying over and over again and don't know you are saying them. It's our job to spot those trends that you already know. We just string the themes together to make the story. The story of you and why you believe in what you do.

Do you ever wonder why some people are so successful just by showing up and it seems so effortless for them? Here you are and it's so hard and you just can't seem to be as happy as they are. It's because you are trying to be them, which works for them but isn't you. People see right through that and won't buy what you are selling if you don't believe. Once you believe, then you have to tell them why you believe it. That's the Authentic Why Process. We just help find it and facilitate it. We have always worked in this format but have never really given it a name or its own "brand" to be able to explain it in simple terms. We want to know, what is your authentic why?

Champagne, Anyone?

So by now, you've probably noticed that we are a silly bunch and clearly, we think we're pretty entertaining, too... I'm sure that some of you have heard about this thing called "Champagne Thursdays" we have at the office (yes, we're classy ladies). Well, that pretty much sums up our culture. We approach our work with passion, interest and enthusiasm and our office is always full of laughter and energy (except when we eat, it's dead silent).


Every company already has a culture. They may not be aware of what it is or if it is the right one but it's there. Your culture is the kind of paper you use to print your letterhead on, the way you answer the phone, your blogging style and the smile on your face. As a graphic designer, I naturally concentrate on the type of print and web communications that come out of my clients' offices but I am well aware of the other things that make up a company's brand and culture.


What we do, is make sure that the culture matches the image that a company wants to project. A brand must be "lived" at an organization for it to be successful. So, next time you answer the phone or write an email think about how you sound. Does your entire team share the same consistent communication style? Check out our section on Challenges and Opportunities of Brand Development on our website. We are curious about your culture. Tell us, what makes you so special, huh? ;)


~Aga