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Quick Guide to Creating the Right Brand for Your Business (Guest Blog by Gemma Reeves)

The following post comes to us from Gemma Reeves, a freelance writer and entrepreneur. Learn more about Gemma in her bio at the end of the article. Be sure to learn more about her business here.


Quick Guide to Creating the Right Brand for Your Business

gemma guest blog

Any entrepreneur will tell you that establishing and growing your own business is by no means an “easy” career path. Once you have taken the initial steps to build a business model, tasks seem to rain down endlessly in front of you and you may neglect a few important things that greatly matter for your business, like branding.

Whether yours is a small or large business, serving local or international markets, branding is equally important. Creative and effective branding can give your business that edge against your competitors, which is of huge value especially when you are just getting started. Many business owners understand that branding is an essential part of their businesses, but can’t really put into words why.

Before the boom of digital advertising, businesses didn’t have to put as much effort into refining and reinventing their brand as much as they do now. Years ago, branding was simpler. Brands used names, slogans, logo designs, and other symbols that were a fairly obvious reflection of the products and services of the company. Today, these elements are still the basics of branding; however, brands as a whole have become far more sophisticated and less literal. They’re discrete, playful, creative and innovative.

What’s required now for a brand to stand out is it must tell a story, make people feel something and be remembered even when competing against the onslaught of advertisements we’re exposed to every day. In many different ways, a business’s brand drives lasting public perception that can lift you up or cause you to come crashing down.

Spectacular Marketing founder Mark McColluch states that, “You have a brand whether you like it or not. It’s best to embrace that and find the best way to connect your brand with your target audience.” The way your company answers phone calls, addresses customer concerns on social media, and supports the community are all a reflection of your brand.

Having a strong and effective brand is no mistake and its never by chance. Businesses who do this well have a strategy and a team dedicated to implementing this strategy, continuously refining it. More than simply “looking pretty,” the most effective brands achieve the following objectives:

  1. Clearly and consistently communicate the problem your business aims to solve
  2. Reinforce the values and credibility of your business
  3. Elicit the desired emotions from your target audience
  4. Move your target audience to take action (i.e. purchase your products or services)
  5. Make loyal customers
  6. Remain top of mind

Sounds great right? But how do you actually go about accomplishing this? The detailed blueprint to answer that question is far more than what we can summarize in this blog post; however we can offer you some initial and ongoing steps you should take to get started in the right direction. Take a look!

Develop Your Brand Strategy

A consistent and lasting brand is the result of strategy. This may take several months, and ongoing tweaking to reach its stride, but with time and effort you can build a solid branding strategy for your business.

Your strategy should include clear objectives and specific tactics to reach these objectives. It should also include the adjectives and emotions you want to evoke with your brand. How do you want to make your customers feel? What do you want to be known for? These keywords and phrases should drive the focus of your strategy and ultimately the design of your brand.

Research Your Competition

Branding is not just about your company. It’s extremely smart to also study your competitors’ branding strategy. How is the target audience responding to their brand? How does their branding compare to yours? How can you differentiate to stand out? These questions and more should be answered in your research. Most importantly, remember to do everything with integrity and authenticity. Getting dirty with your competitors will foremost reflect poorly on your business.

Be Consistent

Brand consistency is what results in your brand legacy. All too often businesses work to develop a consistent brand in one area of their outreach efforts, but fail to carry it over throughout every area. For example, the branding of your website should match your business cards, email signature, social media, email templates, marketing materials, etc.

Brands that remain consistent throughout time are more likely to gain a stable place in the market and more efficiently use their marketing resources. They don’t waste energy reinventing the wheel every time they roll out a new product or promotion, rather they know to always begin with their existing brand for design inspiration.

The Bottom Line

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. This absolutely applies to the branding of your business. Especially for new and growing businesses that face much competition, your brand can make you memorable, move people to take action and build a loyal customer base. Without a strong and consistent brand, your business will be washed away with each new wave of competition. The most effective way to prevent this from happening is to prioritize creating and implementing a branding strategy right from the start. In doing so, this early investment in your business will reap huge dividends months and years down the road!

Does your business prioritize its branding? Why or why not? Share your thoughts and expertise by commenting below!

gemma reevesGemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business. Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace

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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Promote Your Business Using Public Relations

How to Promote Your Business Using Public Relations

So your business has done something awesome. Maybe you’ve set a new record, received an award, given back to the community or opened a new location. You want to get credit for your good work, but you’re not sure how to get anyone to pay attention. What can you do?

The good news is there are a lot of ways in which you can promote your business using public relations. Here’s a look at the top 6 PR tactics I recommend using when you want to promote your business, or even you – personally!

  1. Press Release

Not everything is worthy of a press release. I mean, you can still put the time and effort into sending one out but the media is not really going to care unless your news is deemed interesting to their readers. Be strategic with the angle of your press release. Be sure to clearly answer the question “What’s in it for me?” that readers will likely have. If your business received an award, great! But why should anyone else care. That’s what you need to focus on if you want your press release to get picked up.

  1. Letter to the Editor

Unlike a press release, writing a letter to the editor is an opportunity to share your opinion. You must be factual, but you can also add your personal insights. You can use a letter to the editor to promote your business indirectly, yet still effectively. Keep a lookout for recent news or events that relate to your industry. Offer your advice or bring to attention a larger issue impacting your community. Most importantly, you will be given a byline, which you should be sure includes your business’s name and website.

  1. Guest Column

Contributing to a guest column is another great way to gain media attention for your business. Your writing will be published in the main news sections, which is an advantage over letters to the editor or op-ed pieces which can sometimes get buried. Some outlets openly welcome guest contributors and post their rules for submission on their website. Others are less clear. You should reach out to reporters who regularly cover your industry or area of expertise. Most importantly, be sure you provide high quality content and are timely with your responses. If you can build a relationship with a reporter, you will have the opportunity to contribute again and again.

  1. Media Pitch

If you have something really newsworthy to promote, consider reaching out to reporters and pitching them your story. If you can earn a live feature story at your place of business, this is a highly valuable marketing opportunity! Now, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. You need to make sure your pitch is clear and compelling. Again, be sure to answer the “What’s in it for me?” by making it obvious how your story impacts their audience.

  1. Public Speaking
    You don’t need to be a polished public speaker to make this PR tactic work for your business. If you have a compelling story to share, maybe it’s how you’ve grown your business or how you’re giving back to the community, you can promote your business and its work through public speaking. Think of local clubs and organizations that often have featured speakers. Reach out to them and pitch the idea of having you as their next guest speaker. Getting in front of your local community is a great way to grow your presence, and grow your business as a result.
  2. Case Studies

If absolutely nothing else, you can always promote your business through case studies. Do you have an exceptional customer story to share? Has your products or services drastically improved someone’s life? Writing case studies for such examples will help to illustrate what your business does. You can then take these case studies and promote them on your website, social media, e-mail newsletters and by sharing them with specific potential customers who can relate to them. The best thing about case studies is that you’re not relying on the media or someone else to make sure they get published – you’re in control of how and where they are promoted!

Which of these tactics do you see most valuable for promoting your business? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

 

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2017 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Use Pinterest to Grow Your Brand

How to Use Pinterest to Grow Your Brand

Pinterest is a stand-alone Visual Social Network centered on sharing images that link to content. Depending upon your business and industry, Pinterest can be a powerful tool for marketing your products or services and growing your brand. Even individual people can grow their personal brand through the type of content they share or “pin” to their boards.

Whether you have a well-established and popular Pinterest profile, or whether you’re just getting started (like we are at Bennis Inc), there are many tips and best practices for growing your influence. Here are just a few of pieces of wisdom we have gained from our personal experience with establishing a business presence on Pinterest. Take a look!

Plan Your Pins to Win

Start by creating just a few board topics that are directly related to your business and brand. Focus on getting 3-5 boards filled with interesting and quality content before spreading out to create new boards. As potential followers explore your profile, they will be more impressed to see several quality boards than a ton of boards that are hardly utilized.

As you explore Pinterest for content to share (in addition to sharing your own content), you may come across other users that really sync with your brand. Follow them! Not only will this provide a stream of quality content for the future, you just might earn their following in return.

Establish Yourself as an Expert in Your Field

Remember, Pinterest is all about visual content! In order to get noticed, you need your pins to visually stand out. This may mean creating some custom graphics that include the title of your article within the photo. You’ll see this is a very popular way people share content on Pinterest and that’s because it’s effective! People easily grasp what your content is about, which increases the chance they will click and share.

While it’s okay to re-pin other users’ content, you want to also share your original content (i.e. blog, articles, images) to establish yourself as an expert in your field. For example, a photographer won’t get too much respect if he is only sharing other people’s photos that are not his own. Be genuine, just like you would on any other social media platform!

Share Your Content Across Other Social Media Platforms

Speaking of other social media platforms, you can really leverage the full power of your content by taking what you share on Pinterest and also sharing this on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

Additionally, you want to be sure people who are reading your original content, such as on your website or blog, have an easy way to find you on Pinterest as well as pin your content to their own boards. This is as simple as adding some social media buttons to the top and/or bottom of every post. Though it may seem obvious, it is often overlooked!

How have you navigated your business strategy on Pinterest? Share your thoughts and ideas by commenting below!

And don’t forget to follow Bennis Inc on Pinterest! We’re just getting started and have a lot of great things coming soon.

 

 

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Beginner Photography Tips to Make Your Brand Stand Out!

Meet the newest member of Bennis Inc and this week's blog author, Danielle! Click her photo to learn more about her passions and expertise related to photography.

Meet the newest member of Bennis Inc and this week’s blog author, Danielle! Click her photo to learn more about her passions and expertise related to photography.

All new business ventures, regardless of size or industry, grow from ideas and visual thinking. So essentially, a visual idea is the beginning of a startup company! It is imperative that you incorporate visual and photographic content when marketing a new business, especially in today’s growing world of technology. Having great photographs and images will be key in not only creating your visual brand, but making it stand out among your competitors!

Maybe you’re just getting started, or maybe you have a shoe string budget with which you feel like you can’t afford quality photography. It’s time to push these excuses aside and learn how to be your own photographer (fake it until you make it, right?) to ensure you begin creating a strong and professional brand from day one.

Take a look at these essential tips to get you started…

Build a stock image library of photos from areas around your business or hometown

Having access to quality, visual content when you’re trying to grow your business is key to creating a memorable and consistent brand. The first step is to start looking at your everyday surroundings as possible stock imagery. Get and capture photographs that will be visually beneficial for your business, over a long length of time. Create your image library by photographing landmarks and significant areas surrounding your business. You can also photograph objects that relate to your brand.

As a business owner you can choose to capture these images yourself or you can hire a freelance photographer to provide you with a stock image library. For a small investment of either your time or a professional’s skills, you can gain access to a ton of unique stock images that are both local and meaningful to your business. Best of all, you won’t have to worry about copyright issues like you do with images found online!

Take photos when you travel

Always have your camera handy with you when you are on the go. You never know when you will have a photographic opportunity. Even if you forget your camera one day and you see a terrific photo opportunity, remember to pull out your cell phone and take a quick snapshot. You never know when that photo might come in handy for a future blog post or Instagram update.

Capture photos of your usual workday

Another great way to continuously grow your visual content library is to take snapshots of moments and things throughout your typical work day. These photos can be as simple as a stack of pens or your laptop setup with your piping hot coffee. These types of photos are great for original content and will give your audience a real look into your daily life. After all, it all comes back to creating that “human element” as part of your brand.

Save time with minimal editing

A great tip to know when beginning to photograph for content is to always shoot with minimal editing in mind. A simple, but key factor when it comes to minimal editing is the less cropping the better, so try and be mindful of the “rule of thirds.” As you get more advanced, you can even begin to explore different types of lighting which can really help to cut down on the amount of editing needed to fix “bad” images. When it comes to lighting, there is a lot to understand but beginners can set the camera to an auto setting which should ensure proper lighting. More experienced photographers often prefer to carefully set their own lighting for each shot, but if you’re just getting started, use those auto settings until you learn the ropes!

Your photographs can be simple and still stand out

Believe it or not, you can take professional photographs with little to no fuss at all. Sometimes the simpler the image is, the bigger impact it will have. So don’t worry about making a big production out of finding the perfect background staged with a ton of props. Rather, take the time to plan some of your locations and pay attention to the smaller details, such as your shooting angle. The simplest things can be made to feel artistic and unique based upon how you photograph them. Dare to get a new view from up high or down low – you’ll be amazed as to how your world changes from this angle!

How do you use photography to build a unique brand and make it stand out? Share your ideas and experience by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Business & Success, Photography

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 5

Welcome back to the fifth and final week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

What is my action plan for rebranding?

What is my action plan for rebrandingYou’ve now reached the point in the rebranding process where you need to outline your plan for implementation. You’ve made the decision to rebrand, identified your current customers, revisited your mission and tied it all into your unique story. This is the exciting part where all these pieces come together to unveil your new brand and begin the process of introducing it to the world.

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet or big red button that will allow to you seamlessly insert your new brand where the old once was and have everyone recognize it, relate to it and build a positive relationship with it. That will take time – and most importantly – consistency. I emphasize consistency because time alone will not get the job done. You cannot sit on your hands and wait for your new brand to start driving sales. Rather, you need to take action immediately to build a strategic plan and follow through with that plan day after day.

So let’s talk more about this strategic plan of action and what you need to consider when laying it all out. While every part of the rebranding process we talked about leading up to this week is indeed important, your plan for implementation can be the make-it-or-break-it moment. Even the best brand will have little impact if it’s not strategically and consistently implemented. To help you confidently craft your own plan of action, here are 5 tips you should keep in mind.

  1. Think beyond the logo

Just as there is a lot more to a person than hair and clothes, there is a lot more to your business than its logo. Updating your website, social media profiles and email newsletter template with a new logo is only the surface of rebranding.

Remember to dig deeper when creating your plan of action. For example, change the content on your website to reflect your new mission, story and overall “vibe” that you want to create with your new brand. If you’re moving toward a modern and fresh brand, do away with that long and stale messaging that no longer resonates with your target audience. Another example is to apply your new brand to the voice you use on social media. Share content that will interest this newly identified target audience and spark discussion with things they care about.

  1. Include tactics across multiple platforms

In the point above, I mentioned some tactics pertaining to your website, email newsletter and social media. Don’t stop there! Identify all the ways in which you communicate with your customer base and be sure to apply this rebranding to each platform. Some examples include your automated emails (such as when a customer purchases a product or fills out a contact form), blog post topics and direct mail pieces.

Additionally, the rebranding process doesn’t end with your visual or written content. Depending on the situation, this may call for some media relations. Issue a press release emphasizing the newsworthiness of your new brand, host a party at your place of business or hold a press conference. The more reason you give your audience to celebrate with you, the more memorable you make your rebranding process.

  1. Emphasize in your communications why this is a positive and exciting change

Have you ever seen a business with a sign saying “Under new management!” hung in their window? I have and I always read this as “Sorry we failed. We fired the screw-up, so give us another chance!” You customers may question your motive behind rebranding; make it clear that this was a strategic decision and a positive change that has made your already successful business stronger than ever. You can communicate this in any way you choose to announce your new brand. Whether it’s on social media, on your website, in your newsletters or through a press release, take control of the speculation behind your new brand and align it with a sign of positive change and exciting things to come.

  1. Empower your employees to be advocates for the change

Your employees are a valuable part of the rebranding process, so be sure to empower them with the ability to share the word and get excited about it. Make them feel like they are on the “inside” and let them be among the first to know about your decision to rebrand before you go public with it. This is their company too, so make them feel a part of it! With the support of your employees, the unveiling of your new brand will be a much more powerful and positive experience for everyone.

  1. Scour every corner of your business for remains of the old brand

This final step is one that many companies fall short of completing. It’s taking the time to search every nook and cranny for remnants of your former brand. This could be anything from old letter head, coffee mugs, t-shirts, business cards and even email signatures for all your employees. All of this needs to be changed, pitched or donated to make room for your new brand. The danger of allowing these items to stay is that people within your company will inevitably use them and although it may be subconscious, it will send the message that the old brand is not really gone.

Just as you should clear the clutter of a past relationship before moving on to a new one, you should also clear the clutter of your old brand to set the tone that the new one is the only one that matters now!

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Part 2: Who are my customers?

Part 3: What is my mission?

Part 4: What is my unique story?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 4

Welcome back to the fourth week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

What is my unique story?

What is my unique storyLast week, I talked about the importance of establishing your current mission as part of the rebranding process. This week, I want to share with you how to take that “standard” mission statement and really make it stand out by strengthening it with a story.

When you took that fresh look at your mission statement, you may not have needed to change much. A few tweaks and word substitutions may have done the trick to bring it up to date with your business’s current brand and future goals. But making your mission relevant isn’t enough – you must also make it resonate. Simply stating “We strive to offer the highest quality of service at the best rates possible…” will quickly blend into the noise of every other company saying the same thing – unless you include a personal story to make it uniquely memorable.

I emphasize the power of storytelling frequently on both my blog and in my consulting business. I have always been captivated by stories, but I became an advocate for this art as I continued to see the impact it had on helping a message resonate with its audience.

Your own rebranding process is the perfect time to identify that story that best tells your customers about your passion, your innovative ideas and why you’re in it for so much more than just a paycheck. This is your chance to humanize your business in a way no competitor can completely replicate – by telling your personal story.

In a past blog post, I talked about how to incorporate this story into your branding efforts, but I want to take it back one step and give you some starting advice on how to first identify the perfect personal story to highlight. Let’s take a look:

  1. It doesn’t have to be about you.

Make it about your customers instead. A story can still be personal to your business even if it isn’t about you. Instead, tell a story about how you solve customers’ problems, make their lives more enjoyable or inspire them to do great things through your products and services. Use real life examples with which your audience can relate. Make them feel like you’re telling “their” story.

  1. Highlight a point of differentiation.

Tell a story no one else can. To really stand out from your competition, you want to highlight what makes you unique and unable to be replicated. This might be the relationships you’ve built or challenges you’ve overcome. Or maybe it’s about your level of education and experience that is more than what’s expected in your industry. All of these angles will showcase what makes you different and will attract customers to work with you.

  1. Let your customers tell the story.

A testimonial from your customer is a very powerful and compelling story. Let them be your megaphone. I love when a customer’s story takes you on a journey, relaying their struggles and positioning a company as the answer – so long as it feels genuine. This should be more in-depth than a traditional once sentence testimonial and should have a beginning, middle and end, just like any good story does.

  1. Recount your “Aha” moment.

Rather than telling the story about how you’re changing people’s lives with your business, talk about how your business is changing your life. Was there a definitive moment when you remember being inspired to start your business? Tell the story of the time you realized your calling to do what you’re doing now – and why you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Sharing this passion with your customers will make you feel human, trustworthy and likable.

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Part 2: Who are my customers?

Part 3: What is my mission?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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