How to Build Your Brand Identity

How to Build Your Brand Identity

Six ways for startups, early stage and established companies to expand their brand and connect with a target audience

In addition to branding your products and services, it’s also important to establish a brand identity and build an authentic brand image for your company–especially if you’re a startup or an early stage company.

Beyond company logos, fonts and design styles, you can increase the possibility of establishing strong connections with clients and prospects if you expand your brand identity to reflect your organization’s values. Factors such as corporate responsibility, dedication to relevant causes, and transparency can help build a foundation for trust with your audience in today’s market.

The easiest way to start building your brand identity is to show your audience who you are and how you got here. Start with these six ways to establish, grow and share your brand identity:

Write a strong mission statement and/or brand story.

In addition to an elevator pitch about who you are and what you do, the About page on your website can also be a great place to share your story. Describe who founded your company, when and why they founded it, and be sure to include any personal details that led to the birth of your brand.

For example, if you’re developing a product or an application to solve a problem you experienced in your own life, tell that story on your website, on social media or on product packaging. It’s an easy way to find an audience who can relate and see the potential use cases of your services for themselves.

While you’re at it, incorporate that sentiment in a mission statement that clearly defines your purpose and the principles that will guide you. A mission is not reserved only for non-profits–it’s simply a way to convey your goals and your values, and it’s a great place to start building your brand identity.

Establish a company culture

Once you’ve defined your mission, you can establish an authentic company culture that reflects it. To get started, think about your own work-life values and implement them in your company. Do you strive toward a healthy work-life balance? Do you love company retreats with team bonding and skill-building exercises? Do you support working remotely or work-from-home options for employees? Or, maybe you want to send out a weekly all-staff email showing praise and gratitude for team members who have done an exceptional job.

Decide what type of company culture you want to create and stick to it. Let prospective employees know what you have to offer, and keep it going once they join the team. Your employees will live and breathe your brand identity, and it will show in their interactions with prospects, customers and colleagues.

Create a workspace that reflects your brand values

Whether your team works remotely, in an office or a combination of both, you can create a workspace that reflects your brand values. If you’re working remotely, start a Slack channel that’s just for fun conversations, and one that’s just for internal news and communications unrelated to specific projects. Your team will feel connected, informed, supported and heard even if you aren’t in the same place.

If you have an office space, think about easy ways you can make it your own. Add a dry erase or chalk wall just for inspirational and motivational messages. Choose furniture or wall art that fits with the colors and styles you’ve established for your brand, so it feels cohesive to employees and guests (and looks great in photos!). Even if you have a co-working or shared space, you can highlight how that aligns with your values.

Showcase your employees in new ways

Framing a photo of your employee of the month may not be the most inspired method of employee appreciation, but there are other simple ways to make your team members feel noticed. You could feature an employee spotlight on your blog or Careers page with a fun Q&A about their likes and interests. You could welcome them to the team with a social media post during their first week. You could survey employees to gather testimonials on their favorite parts of working with the team, and share them on LinkedIn.

Don’t be afraid to pull back the curtain and humanize the talented team you’ve built! It can also mean a lot for customers to put a face to the name they may have only met over the phone or online.

Choose relevant charities to support as a team

According to Entrepreneur, corporate giving improves company culture and provides an opportunity for organizations to reinforce their purpose. Consider choosing one (or a few) non-profit organizations to support as a team. Gather a group to participate in a charity walk, or offer an employee donation-matching program. Alternatively, you could provide employees with a set number of PTO time, which they can use to perform charitable work during normal business hours.

Then, ask employees to submit photos or blog posts describing their experiences, so you can share them with your audience. It’s a great way to make new connections, boost morale, build your brand identity and support a worthy cause all at the same time.

Highlight your brand identity with pictures & videos online

It may be obvious by now, but it’s worth repeating–now that you’ve done the work, share it with your audience. Let outsiders in on your company culture by posting about the environment you’ve built. You may already have content at your fingertips that could endear your audience to your organization.

One way or another, the atmosphere you create internally will become a major part of your brand identity, and that identity will be perceived by your audience. Make sure it’s an image you can be proud of by starting from the ground up.

By Erica Warnitsky, Strategist

10 Key Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s Crisis Environment

A public relations crisis can happen to any company of any size at any time. Sometimes, they happen quickly, like a product failure or a personal scandal involving a top executive. Others build up slowly, like a growing customer service issue. Lately you can’t go online or turn on the TV without reading about a company’s or person’s public relations crisis unfolding.

A PR crisis can rattle even the most seasoned PR professionals. When a company is not prepared for an unexpected situation, it can spiral out of control quickly, with PR professionals scrambling to do damage control. While companies cannot always prevent a crisis from happening, it pays to be prepared and ready for action when the crisis hits.

Damage Control: The Essential Lessons of Crisis Management

Preparation can help turn a negative situation into a positive outcome. However, sometimes in a crisis, a “positive” outcome is not possible – but you can turn a negative outcome into something when the impact is minimized. And to do that, you need the skills to understand how to manage a crisis.

That reality is one of the key lessons conveyed by the book, Damage Control: The Essential Lessons of Crisis Management,” by authors Eric Dezenhall and John Weber, which turns some of the conventional crisis wisdom on its head.

The book provides a detailed overview on modern crisis management and presents real-life case studies and best practices for making “bad situations less bad” through preparation, messaging and crisis management strategies.

Keep Calm and Call the Crisis Team

The book touches on examples of crisis management strategies including media relations, dissuasion, offensive techniques, and knowing when to “execute a strategic retreat.”

And, while often much of the focus of crisis management is on PR, the book points out that while PR is an integral part of managing any crisis, crisis management goes beyond messaging and communication – and can include legal action, restitution, and more.

Successfully handling a crisis is about planning, quick thinking and strong leadership. And, the authors say that while no plan can anticipate all possible crisis scenarios, executives need to at least have an educated guess about what awaits them in the years ahead.

Prepare for These 10 Company Crisis Trends

In the book, the authors share 10 key trends shaping tomorrow’s crisis environment:

  1. Corporate mission creep: Companies of all sizes are committing to social, civic and environmental responsibilities and goals, outside of the day-to-day business. Crisis managers will need to learn to multitask across the sometimes-contradictory goals of the greater good vs. shareholder value.
  2. The demise of science: While “sound science” was rarely questioned in the past, the proliferation of “fake news” and pseudo-science have made consumers more discerning when it comes to believing studies and research in support of a product.
  3. Outspent and outgunned: In the past, large companies were able to buy their way out of a crisis. Now, many NGOs fighting against the large corporations are well funded and PR savvy, and able to launch large-scale campaigns to the turn public and media sentiment against the large corporations.
  4. Is junior covering your crisis?: As money and advertising continue to take precedence over public interest journalism in many newsrooms, reporting quality will suffer. Too few reporters, with little experience or training, doing little research and poor reporting will create an environment ripe for mischief, misrepresentation and malfeasance.
  5. Wall street war zone: Businesses are becoming more aware of the need to act more responsibly, and embracing environmental and social policies, so as to not alienate those invested in their companies.
  6. Everyone’s a pundit: While the mainstream media is still the main source of news for many people, news of any type is now crowd sourced from around the globe 24/7, increasing both the likelihood of an issue becoming a crisis, and the speed at which it does.
  7. Make ‘em laugh: Today, a large chunk of the American public gets their news from comedians. This trend will continue, providing a barometer of just how deep a corporate crisis has worked its way into the public consciousness.
  8. Your brand is a target: For large companies, a well-known brand can be both an asset and a liability, as anti-corporate campaigners will continue to promote their issues by associating it with a well-known brand. In the future, companies will need to couple promotional campaigns with brand-defense campaigns to mitigate these efforts.
  9. Protecting intellectual property: In today’s “open source” culture, businesses will be increasingly pressured to share their knowledge at a reduced return. Communications teams will need to know where to draw the distinction between altruism and protecting intellectual property.
  10. The porous corporation: Attacks from within a corporation can be equally as devastating as external attacks. Digital and social media has made it easier than ever for employees to share sensitive company documents with others.

No matter how big or well-regarded your business, chances are your company will face a PR crisis at some point.

At Zer0 to 5ive, we know the importance of crisis planning, and recommend to all PR clients that they put into place a crisis communications plan with a media response protocol and template messages. While we can’t be prepared for everything – we can at least have a plan of action should a crisis occur.

By Jennifer Moritz, Managing Principal

The Six Rules of Outstanding Content for Social Media

In today’s digital-focused world its hard to find someone who isn’t on social media – whether it be your grandfather using Facebook to check in on the grandkids or your teenage niece posting every chance she gets. As of 2017, 81% of the population had at least one social media profile, so leveraging these channels is a must for every business’ marketing plan.

Social media is a fast communications channel that may be overwhelming to marketers trying to grab attention. Gary Vaynerchuck, author of the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How To Tell Your Story In a Noisy Social World, argues that even if marketers are posting a constant stream of fresh content, they need to think that the social media equation requires both quantity and quality. Brands need to look relevant, engaged and authentic in order to attract their target audience and stand out from the crowd. Vaynerchuck cautions about boring content, noting that only outstanding content can break through the noise.

Vaynerchuck identifies 6 rules the make great content and compelling stories for social media:

1) It’s Native – Native content amps up your story’s power and seamlessly blends in any social media platform. Native content can range from sharing a quote, a picture, an idea, a song, a spoof, or something else – there’s not exact formula, but just have to be something that is relatable to your brand without looking like a straight up advertisement to sell. Native content is crafted to mimic everything that makes a platform attractive and valuable to a consumer, and also offers the same value as other content that people consume on the platform. This content has to engage the consumer at an emotional level. Native content has been compared to infomercials, but isn’t as cheesy when done correctly. Native content should hit the consumer’s emotional center and make them take that next step and share with other users, thus extending your reach.

2) It Doesn’t Interrupt – Ads and marketing are supposed to evoke emotion and make consumers act on that feeling. For content marketing in social media, it should positively effect, or augment, your consumer’s experience. People have no patience anymore, and social media content has to ensure it is providing value, as well as engagement. They might not buy anything today, but will far be likely to buy from a brand that understands them.

3) It Doesn’t Make Demands – Often – Companies need to be engaging and find shared interests with their audience so that their social media content doesn’t always come with a “sell” message. A makeup company can offer makeup and grooming tips so that its audience sees them as an industry resource and establishes trust. Then, when a sales message is pushed out it feels more like a recommendation from a friend than a sales call. Bottom line: Provide content that is not only relevant to your brand, but also interesting to your audience so that you keep their attention.

4) It Leverages Pop Culture – Take a minute and think about the brands that are constantly noted for excelling at social media. What do they have in common? Leveraging popular and timely events/news/music in a creative and fun way that still manages to tie back to their brand. Personify your brands by leveraging pop culture and showing your audience that you’re just like them. For example, Bud Light used a native post on Facebook with a bottle of Bud Light that says, “Summer is coming.” This was a clear nod to the popular HBO show, Game of Thrones, highlighting the fact that Bud Light understood that many  of their consumers were anticipating the show.

5) It’s Micro  – Social media content should be really considered “micro-content” – tiny unique nuggets of information, humor, commentary or inspiration that you reimagine everyday, as you respond to today’s conversations in real time.  Vaynerchuck uses the example of a blackout during the 2013 Super Bowl, where Oreo responded with a simple tweet “Power Out? No Problem” with a photo of a lone cookie in the dark that said, “you can still dunk in the dark.” This was a reminder that Oreo is a fun brand and a cookie for all occasions. Oreo wasn’t overtly selling, but responded in a timely manner with original micro content, which made the brand seem almost human. Social media is 24/7 and should be talking all the time.

6) It’s Consistent and Self Aware – Though your micro-content will vary every day, it must consistently answer the question, “Who are we?” Your core story must remain constant, as well as your personality and brand identity. When you know your message, it’s simple to keep it consistent in every setting. Creating micro-content is simply a way to adapt to the circumstances of your audience and is one of your brand’s best chances of being noticed.

These characteristics of great content should be used when building a social media strategy and will help ensure that you get noticed.

 

By Patrick Reilly

How Brands Benefit from Visual Storytelling – Tips from Pixar Alum Matthew Luhn

There can be no doubt that Matthew Luhn is a master of visual storytelling. At only 19, he became the youngest animator to join The Simpsons while in its third season. Luhn later joined Pixar Animation Studios and collaborated on the most commercially successful and well loved movies of our time: Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, Up, Cars, Toy Story II and Toy Story III.

From Hollywood to the boardroom, Luhn now advises Fortune 500 companies on how to successfully narrate their brand and connect to an audience through visual storytelling. On September 13th, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia hosted a seminar on digital storytelling and invited Luhn to be the keynote speaker. Mixing popular examples with his own experience, Luhn outlined how today’s brands can craft their own powerful stories that resonate.

Visual Storytelling Makes a Brand
Memorable, Impactful and Personal.

Statistics show that when you wrap a story around something, people remember it. Given the age of short attention spans and media oversaturation, how do we make a story wrapper that sticks?

BE CONCISE

Use as few words as possible. If you can’t explain something simply, you have to go back to the drawing board.

HAVE A GREAT HOOK

What if a rat dreamed of being a French chef?

Sound familiar? Pixar writers knew that people don’t like rats and especially don’t like them around food. What’s more, they don’t like uppity Parisians dictating good taste. Add this up, and you get the unexpected hook of Ratatouille.

What if you could fit 1,000 songs in your pocket?

Steve Jobs knew the importance of storytelling. Before unveiling the first generation iPod, he described the disappointments and drawbacks of his competition’s current technology. With the stage set, he gave his hook to create anticipation for Apple’s revolutionary products.

BE AUTHENTIC

Don’t be clever or snarky. Be vulnerable and honest. Come from a place of truth and passion. Don’t be afraid to be bold because if you try to please everyone, the message will get weaker until no one is affected.

Never state the theme in your story. Make people feel it. This comes down to the old adage, “Show. Don’t tell.” The theme of Finding Nemo was: Being overprotective won’t lead your loved ones to a better life, letting them go will. However, no character beats us over the head by overstating it. Great storytelling has to be subtle. Dory the fish says, “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”

USE UNIVERSAL THEMES ABOUT CHANGE

Once you’ve hooked an audience, take them on a journey of change, be it striving towards impossible dreams, facing fear of abandonment and learning about love and sacrifice. Your consumer/user needs to play the role of the hero; not your product or company founders.

The Always #LikeAGirl campaign used video interviews where young girls, both before and after puberty, were asked, “What does it mean to do something ‘like a girl?’ How would you run ‘like a girl’ and fight ‘like a girl?’” The videos demonstrate that somewhere in puberty, girls learn that “like a girl” translates to weakness and is meant as an insult. If this was something learned, then it could be unlearned. So campaign creators set out to transform “like a girl” and make it a call for confidence, as in “try, fail, learn & Keep Going #LikeAGirl.”

Stories that are memorable, impactful and personal are about the kind of transformation that inspires us to make decisions towards our own change.

Related Articles

Who Would Play Your Brand On The Big Screen

The Brand Experience

6 Ways to Incorporate Video Into Your Brand Strategy

By: Claire Brukman, Principal and Creative Director

Who Would Play Your Brand on the Big Screen?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone talking about marketing personas, I’d have enough liquid cash to bankroll my very own low-budget indie film. Those lovable avatars that represent our target audiences are discussed on a daily basis from the classroom to the boardroom, and rightly so. Well-defined personas are critical to every marketing strategy. But have you ever noticed that marketers rarely, if ever, talk about the most important persona of all?

Sure, we have Becky the soccer mom, carting her three kids to and fro with hardly a minute to spare. There’s also Fred the executive, jetting off on his sixth business trip of the month. I bet you can name a few more off the top of your head from the usual cast of characters, and we spend most of the time we have allotted for personas painting the details on those cookie cutter molds.

The star of the show, however, is one-of-a-kind. No template exists for the almighty brand persona. It’s extremely difficult to define because it’s so unique, and it’s often overlooked as a result. But any film with a flimsy lead is sure to flop, so let’s focus on your brand and pan in for a close-up.

Good Looks Will Only Get You So Far

One of the main reasons why brand personas fail to get the attention they deserve is because they’re the intangible product of two definitive marketing activities that are easier to control: branding and communication. Just like an actress getting her glossy 8×10 into the hands of a casting director and then delivering lines in character at the audition, your brand performs on multiple levels too.

The first component of your brand persona is, naturally, your branding. Your logo, colors, fonts and imagery all add up to a single visual impression that gives people a superficial idea of who your company is. Consider this your headshot.

Of course, your company is more than just a pretty set of style guidelines. Good looks may get you in the door, but you’ll be out of luck if you don’t deliver on the messaging. The subtle use of tone, pace, word choice and context makes all the difference when it comes to relating to your target audience in a believable way. This equates to your voice.

When you combine the aesthetics with the content, you create a presence, and that’s what captivates the masses! Unfortunately, many marketers let that presence manifest itself rather than proactively build it from scratch. They design a logo, decide on their brand colors and then move on to the communication stage with their focus firmly fixed on CTAs and KPIs instead of staying true to a defined persona. Even if everyone on your team has a decent grasp on your brand’s voice descriptors, it’s easy for your presence to end up muddled and unmemorable when you don’t know who your brand is beneath it all.

Rather than letting your brand persona materialize over time as a volatile sum of its parts, let’s flip the script and start with your persona first. That way you have a strong core to guide everything else to come.

It All Comes Down to Casting

So, how exactly do you go about defining your brand persona? Well, to define it is to personify it, and there’s no better way than by picking an actual person. Vague composites are fine for buyer personas, but you need to get everyone on the same page with this one. Becky the soccer mom simply won’t cut it this time around.

Of course, with billions people to choose from, how do you narrow it down? Let alone to someone who would be widely known throughout your company? For that, we turn to Hollywood.

Celebrities are undoubtedly the most ubiquitous personalities we have at our disposal, so let’s leverage them to our advantage. Imagine for a moment that one of the big movie studios has just green-lighted a film adaptation of your brand’s triumphant rise to glory, and your company will be anthropomorphized for the role. Now, ask yourself this one simple question: Who would play your brand on the big screen?

It could be any person from any era. Think of the qualities that represent your company and try to match them up with the personality traits of your favorite movie and television stars. It might help to determine the genre your brand would most likely be featured in and then concentrate your brainstorming there. For example, a tech company with an innovative SaaS solution might want to jump right to the sci-fi, epic and adventure genres for inspiration.

The more granular you can get with your pick the better, so try to zoom in on one person in a specific role if you can. In other words, Marlon Brando is great, but while Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone is ideal, Marlon Brando as Kia might not be so perfect. A great role model can give you a stronger foundation on which to develop the voice of your brand.

Stunt Doubles to Set

This exercise may seem frivolous at first, but having a precise “model” that everyone at your company can look to is instrumental in building and maintaining a consistent brand persona. It’s infinitely easier to get everyone speaking the same language when they all know whose mouth they’re using, as opposed to an amorphous cluster of personality traits that can be interpreted in a million different ways.

Tell a dozen marketers, sales reps and thought leaders to channel Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and you’re bound to get much more consistent results than if you told them to produce content that sounds like it was written by “an enthusiastic female.” It enables writers to get into character the same way actors do. It also gives you a solid base on which to tack those familiar traits, so you can create your own unique character without confusion. One example of that would be using Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but making him slightly more affable and optimistic. This not only makes it easier for everyone who communicates on behalf of your brand, but it also helps you harmonize many different writing and speaking styles into one powerful voice.

In addition to the universal nature of film and television, accessibility is another huge benefit of sourcing a personality this way. If Joe “I Haven’t Been to the Movies in 20 Years” Gromly isn’t familiar with the particular character you choose, onboarding is as simple as streaming the movie during a Lunch & Learn. In fact, it would be a good idea to get everyone together to watch the film even if Gromly has seen it. You want everyone to be crystal clear on your brand persona, and having one common example that you can point to is a blessing.

Hop in the Director’s Chair

By now you might have a few initial thoughts on who would play your brand in a movie. If not, don’t abandon the project just yet. I’ve put together a few easy questions to guide you in your pursuit of the perfect actor to represent your brand. Fill out this fun and effective worksheet to get a better idea of who your company really is and how to translate that into an extraordinary brand persona.

How well defined is your brand persona? Fill out this easy worksheet and take your brand from bit part to top billing.

brand_persona_button

By Justin Schorah / justin@0to5.com

Experiential Marketing: The Secret to Building Brand Loyalty

In today’s buyer-empowered marketplace, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to establish brand loyalty and effectively reach their target demographics. Audiences have become deafened to companies’ self-promotion, and standard marketing practices are falling short. In recent years, integrated marketing strategies have replaced more singular efforts. However, campaigns are oftentimes still missing a valuable component that is proven to broaden campaign reach and build brand loyalty: Experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing, also referred to as event marketing, is a method focused on directly engaging audiences and encouraging consumers to experience a brand. Whether you’re hosting a webinar, exhibiting at a tradeshow or using a street team to spread awareness, experiential marketing has the ability to transcend traditional marketing tactics and illuminate your brand.

When implementing experiential marketing tactics, there are a few guiding principles to keep in mind:

Know your audience.

Audiences have become desensitized to brands shouting at them to pay attention and instead crave a more organic approach to marketing. People like to feel as though they’ve discovered the brand themselves, which, in turn, can result in stronger consumer advocacy and brand loyalty. Events are the perfect way to provide potential customers with a memorable experience that can lead to long-term commitment and increased ROI.

There are countless ways to engage your audience through experiential marketing, but it’s important to keep in mind that not every form of engagement will reach your particular customer. Know your target demographic and choose an activation that appeals to them. Resist the urge to jump on the latest trends and curate an experience that’s true to both your brand and your audience. If you understand your audience and position your brand activation accordingly, people will be more likely to pay attention. 

Tell a story.

Storytelling is key to experiential marketing. Find the ethos in your brand mission and leverage that message to connect with your target demographic. From conception, your brand should tell a story that demonstrates the value customers receive when engaging with your product or services. This story should be integrated into every aspect of your brand strategy from logo and website to consumer education and beyond.

Experiential marketing offers the opportunity to strengthen your brand’s narrative and provide consumers with a tangible understanding of your product or service, while also clarifying the customer’s role within the brand.

Use technology to communicate your message.

One way to ensure consumer engagement is by applying a technological overlay to your real-world activation. Events offer face-to-face interaction with potential customers that can be significantly heightened with the use of technology. Whether you’re demonstrating the use of your product through VR headsets or projecting an interactive survey in your tradeshow booth, there are endless opportunities to engage your customer in a creative and tech-savvy way.

Engage community partners.

When possible, be sure to align yourself with complementary brands and like-minded businesses. Companies often fear that partnerships during event activation will dilute their own brand’s message. However, the right partner can provide tremendous value to your brand through cross-promotion opportunities, increased customer reach and sharing of additional resources. Don’t be afraid to spark strategic partnerships with brands that make sense. 

Make it memorable.

The saturated marketplace makes it essential to establish an engaging relationship with your audience. No matter how you choose to activate your brand, be sure to continue the momentum. Make the experience sharable through social media by clearly displaying handles and tags to ensure the interaction is captured and shared on social media platforms.

By collecting leads during the activation, you also have a perfect platform for follow-up communication with an audience that you know is listening. Use the opportunity to highlight what’s next or circulate a survey that will yield valuable insights.

According to Jack Morton’s New Reality 2012 findings, three out of four consumers strongly agree with this statement: “I only advocate for brands when I have had personal experiences with them.”

Whether you’re starting small or jumping into the biggest expo of the year, experiential marketing is a valuable method to enhance your current marketing strategy and take your brand to the next level in customer engagement.

By: Deirdre Purdy

Visual Storytelling: 6 Ways to Incorporate Video into Your Brand Strategy

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If that’s true, then one minute of video could easily be worth 1+ million words.

The power of video in communication is more prevalent than ever, as we are constantly surrounded by it: television, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, etc. Yet, in a recent survey conducted by PR Newswire and PR News, 76 percent of respondents believe video is underutilized in messaging platforms and in PR content. More than half of respondents also stated less than 5 percent of their overall external communication is delivered in video format.

According to a recent PR Newswire webinar, video is shared 1,200 percent more than links and text combined, and photos are liked 200 percent more than text updates. So what is holding organizations back from using visual storytelling in their communication efforts?

The common reasons for not utilizing video are lack of time, budget, resources and expertise. Below are five ways you can adopt video and visual storytelling into your PR strategy:

1. Include video in your budget. 51 percent of respondents to the survey believe their video budget will increase this year. With the abundance of statistics showing the benefits of video in improving a campaign, it is important to try and set aside a budget in order to make incorporating visual elements possible.

2. Run a content audit. Take a look at what content your organization has to offer. Many organizations have content that can be repurposed into a video such as customer training tutorials, behind-the-scenes visuals, valuable data, or existing infographics. All of this content can be repurposed for video.

3. Get professional help. Whether you have the content or not, a great production company is necessary. It is important they have the creative ability to translate your specific story into compelling visuals.

4. Figure out what story you want to tell. We live in a world of instant gratification in which you only have a few seconds to catch a viewer’s attention. For this reason, one-minute videos will make the most impact. If you have a five-minute message to share, break that down into a series of shorter videos. Not only will this keep a viewer’s attention, but gives you even more content to share. If done efficiently, video has the ability to create brand loyalty by easily providing information a customer or client may be seeking. It also differentiates your company from the competition by helping to raise your brand to the top a search rank page.

5. Plan the downstream strategy. Market your marketing. If you have put in the time, effort and money into creating the perfect visual story, now what are you going to do with it? You cannot create a video and hope it magically goes viral. The distribution plan for video content is crucial. According to Unruly, 42 percent of video views occur within 72 hours of video publication. Proving, in order for your video to succeed, you must give it a push out the door to get it in front of the right audience, at the right time. By planning a comprehensive communication strategy, your video can become a shining star in your communications arsenal.

Visuals drive discovery. No matter how boring you may be on a piece of paper, there is always a story to tell. By figuring out a way to incorporate visual storytelling into your brand or PR campaign, the results will be significant – see for yourself!

Post by Emily Forgash, Strategist

How Can Pinterest Benefit Your Business?
pinterest for business

Pegged by some as a passing fad in the realm of social media, Pinterest continues to prove skeptics wrong. This online “pinboard” website is no longer just a place for women to drool over designer wedding dresses and impractical DIY projects. With the amount of consumer traffic Pinterest gets every day, businesses are beginning to recognize the benefits this social media site could have for them as a free marketing tool. Pinterest has even recognized this trend and has created Pinterest for Business accounts to make it even easier. Below are a few ways your business can start using Pinterest:
(more…)

The Brand Experience

null

I visited Napa recently for nearly a week of eating, drinking and touring. For years, I have wanted to go, so when we finally scheduled the trip, with an incredible itinerary, our expectations were high. The “Napa experience” is legendary, and we were not disappointed. The trip was everything I hoped for – great weather, food that tasted like it came from the garden just hours earlier, friendly people and wines that made me wish I could give it all up and cultivate vines for a living. The trip was all that I expected … except for The French Laundry.

I’ll admit upfront that I’m not a “foodie,” but I do enjoy great food and have been to enough notable restaurants, both here and abroad, to be able to distinguish a truly excellent dining experience from one that is mediocre. The French Laundry was a huge disappointment – and not necessarily because of the food, but because of the whole experience. To start with, the place lacks atmosphere. We were first sat in the equivalent of an upstairs bedroom next to a staircase. When we asked to be moved, our waitress had to check with the chef (??!!), but we were finally moved to a table at the bottom of the staircase. The whole tone of the experience seemed to be about what we couldn’t do – we couldn’t adjust the menus, we couldn’t open more than two bottles of wine that we brought, etc. – all spoken to us in hushed tones that made us feel like we were in church, or at a funeral. Where was the joy?

Then the food came. We ordered from a tasting menu with nine courses, so we were prepared to eat like kings and queens. Instead, we ate like paupers. I have never seen such beautiful plates with so little food – including some notable restaurants in France. For one dish, my husband literally received one tiny beet the size of a small grape – that was his entire course!! The four of us were appalled. This happened over and over again, course after course. I was sitting with two big guys, and they were starving. The French Laundry web site says: We want you to say, “I wish I had one more bite of that.” Well, they got their wish, but for all the wrong reasons!!

So, pure taste aside (how much can you mess up one beet?), the French Laundry experience was a failure. It was an experience that I call, “The Laundry Has No Clothes.” I can’t believe that people rave about a place that can miss the mark on so many things that make up a great meal, including adequate food (two beets perhaps?!), a warm and welcoming atmosphere and the desire to ensure your guests’ enjoyment. After three hours and nine “tastes”, we ended up leaving and going out to dinner (again) at Lucy, where we delighted in gourmet burgers, lobster risotto, and more than two bottles of wine!

In technology marketing, we often talk about features and functionality, but at the end of the day, products and services are successful when users have a good experience – an experience that they want to repeat, talk about (positively) and recommend. We all know the brands that have figured this out – tech and otherwise. Maybe it’s time for the French Laundry to do the same.

Post by Michelle Pujadas
Zer0 to 5ive Founder and Co-CEO
Twitter: @pujadas

A Review of The Brand Gap by Marty Neumier
the brand gap book review

So, what is the Brand Gap?

Unfortunately the left brain (analytical, logical, linear, concrete) doesn’t always know what the right brain (intuitive, emotional, spatial, visual) is doing.

Whenever there’s a rift between strategy and creativity – between logic and magic – there’s a brand gap.

It can cause a brilliant strategy to fail where it counts most, at the point of contact with the customer; or, it can doom a bold creative initiative before it’s even launched, as early as the planning stage.

A brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is.

  • A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company.
  • The foundation of a brand is trust.
  • Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with good creative.
  • A charismatic brand is any product, service or company for which people believe there’s no substitute.
  • People base their buying decisions more on symbolic cues (design) than features, benefits and price. Make sure your symbols are compelling.

(more…)