The Power of Branding

Consumers today make hundreds of split-second decisions. What detergent to buy. What coffee to order. What restaurant to visit. These repetitive purchase decisions can determine profits for businesses that are able to convey the best offerings. Through brand, namely a symbol, representation, and schema of a company, consumers can be swayed to choose your product over competitors’. Although it is often associated with logos and typography, branding really encompasses something deeper than just the visual representation of an organization. This is known as positioning your brand.

The first step in developing a strong and authentic brand is to understand the deeper purpose, impact, and meaning of your company. To know what your organization does, and why it does this, dictates how to resemble that to consumers. More importantly, knowing how consumers perceive you is essential when developing your brand strategy. Everyone knows that Apple has one of the greatest brands. Let’s take a look at why. As one of the largest companies in the world, Apple was able to create and offer products that emulated Steve Jobs’ initial purpose of the organization: to create a personal device for the everyday man, in bringing together intuitive design, simplicity, and technological intelligence. This was a feat never to be achieved before. And yet, Apple was able to build one of the strongest examples of consumer loyalty thanks to innovative branding. Not only did the iPhone resemble physical simplicity, but Apple designed its entire company image around the beauty of ease-of-use in technology. They didn’t stop at that. Their website, marketing, and packaging has a consistent look and feel that aligns with their brand. Company recognition through consistency of brand is key to the success. As Forbes journalist Ekaterina Walter says, “Core values don’t have to be all things to all people, rather they must be specific and authentic to who you are. They need to demonstrate who you are, not who you want to be” (Walter, Thoughtful Branding: Where the Company Begins and Ends).

TIP: Customer insights should drive your brand strategy. Take time to research the emotional drivers that impact your customer’s behavior. Understanding the why, not just the what, will lead to successful brand performance.

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Once you understand the values and culture of your brand, we move to step two: conduct internal and external analysis in order to understand your industry, competitors, and direct rivals. Unless you can truly understand the competition in your industry, based on who you are competing with and how, you will not be able to shape an effective brand that brings you competitive advantage in the marketplace. There are a variety of effective frameworks that can be analyzed through internal and external analyses, like Porter’s Five Forces, but the main purpose of this type of research is to gain an understanding of consumer habits and trends in your arena. If you can gain an insight on what is changing and what makes people buy your industry’s products, you will know how to translate your own purpose and mission into your brand.

TIP: When doing your competitive research, focus on similarities and differentiators. Understanding why choosing your business over a competitor is beneficial to the consumer.

The third and final step is to strategize how you will communicate your values and competitive advantage in the marketplace. When you know who you are, what you are pursuing, and you communicate your story crisply, it is easy to build relationships with consumers and tap into your TAM, or total available market for your product or service. There is no silver bullet for how to build a brand that effectively brings you profits and growth, but the main keys to success are authenticity and consistency. Whether it is through a logo, email, social media, store layout, packaging, pricing, (the list goes on), you must remain consistent and authentic to your mission and pursuit of competitive advantage in order to attract customers. And if you truly know who you are and where you stand in the industry, you will be able to translate that into your brand. Branding is a mentality, rather than a one-time analysis or marketing exercise. Branding, “gives a chance to your customers, your partners, your vendors, your employees to feel like they are part of a tribe, it gives them a much-needed sense of belonging, thus allowing you to build a movement around your purpose,” (Walter, Thoughtful Branding: Where the Company Begins and Ends). And if this movement stays true to who you are, your brand will become powerful enough to help you stand out from your competitors, creating value through purpose.

TIP: Communicating your brand position must be consistent through every touchpoint with the customer. Make sure you focus on internal training before pushing your external messaging. Conflicting experiences or setting expectations that are not met will have a lasting negative impact on your relationship with your customers.

How to Use Emojis On Your Desktop

If you use a platform like Hootsuite to manage your social media, you've probably encountered difficulty posting the exact same content across your social media platforms. One of those difficulties may have been inserting emojis. The solution is simple and will save you the time it takes to log-in to each social platform to update posts.

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STEPS:

  1. Start a new message composition in your social media management tool.
     
  2. Follow the below steps to open the emoji keyboard.

    Using a Mac
     --> Press the following keys at the same time:
    Control ^
    Command ⌘
    Space

    OR
     --> Select Edit > Emoji & Symbols

    Using a PC
    --> Press the following keys at the same time:
    Windows Key & Period / Full Stop Key ( . )
    OR
    Windows Key & Semicolon Key ( ; )
     
  3. Search, select and insert your emoji. And voila! You're done. Easy peasy.

Top Trends for Your 2018 Marketing Plan

Marketing in 2018 is all about integrating and personalizing. With short attention spans and oodles of info at their fingertips, consumers are seeking useful, relevant content that's easy to find.

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Really get to know your followers.

Detached and indifferent marketing communications belong in the Mesozoic Era. Focus on personalizing every interaction with your customers and prospects and foster them into long-lasting relationships.

Use email to engage your subscribers with interactive photos, videos, live shopping carts, surveys or polls. Encourage your subscribers to give you feedback that you can use to improve their user experience,

Encourage people to create customer profiles on your website or mobile application so you can track their patterns and give them offers based on their browsing behaviors and prior purchases. 

Engage and interact your customers via their mobile devices with customized content.

Geo-fencing is a technology that marketers use to gather information and target their customers as they enter specific areas known as “geo fences.”A customer active in a specific area prompts mobile notifications that marketers could use to send promotional messages to users. Geofencing is a great way to engage with your customers through their mobile device which is usually attached like another appendage. Customers have to ‘allow’ your app to track their location, but explaining the highlights of the discounts, promotions and exclusive deals they would be eligible for may do the trick!

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Video killed the radio star for a reason.

According to Huffington Post, 75% of 2017 online activity was spent watching videos. And that stat is expected to grow to 82% by 2021. Take advantage by using video as an increasingly-powerful tool to connect to your target audience. You don’t need professional skills, just a smart phone. There are a ton of free video editing apps out there, too.

80% of consumers prefer watching a live video to reading a blog. And viewers watch live streams 3x longer than recorded video, according to go-globe.com. Live video platforms include: Facebook Live, Instagram live, YouTube Live and Twitter. Live video lets you interact with your followers in real-time.

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Have others validate your brand.

Micro-influencers get paid by brands to promote products or services on their social media pages. They have a total audience size of between 1k – 100k followers, while macro-influencers have 500k - 1 million+.

Micro "influencers" post about specific topics to followers that share their lifestyle and passions. HelloSociety claims 60% higher campaign engagement rates with micro-influencer campaigns, obviously making them more cost effective. And with more and more consumers enabling ad blockers in 2017, micro-influencers can close that gap moving into 2018.

Influencers utilize social media. And according to AdAge, Instagram is growing faster than Facebook or Twitter, and its engagement rates with content far higher.

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Artificial Intelligence is some crazy shift.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to advance through chat bots, conversational user interfaces and voice marketing. AI tools can analyze behavior and make decisions based on programming. 

Combined with big data and machine learning, AI has a huge influence on marketing to consumers. Users can expect highly-personalized and automated content, based on their personality and lifestyle. Salesforce anticipates AI use to grow by 53% before 2020. Chat-bots are an AI tool that improve the customer experience. They're available 24/7, guarantee satisfaction, handle multiple conversations at once and never have a case of the Mondays. Chat bots drive customer engagement and facilitate faster conversions by answering questions and proposing suggestions. Conversational User Interfaces like Amazon's Alexa, smart fridges and Microsoft's Cortana will continue to establish their position in consumers' daily routines and lives at home and at work. Voice marketing on-the-go also continues to rise. Google says 20% of its mobile queries are voice-activated. Somewhat surprising because I just asked Siri if these pants make me look fat... crickets.

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Just Answer the Question (and if you giggle a little, that’s okay too)

Creating quality content is increasingly important in 2018. Consumers are more curious but have less patience. Offering informative content with that personal touch is key. Personalized messaging with a dash of wit and humor will raise your brand’s awareness above “fake news” status.