All posts by Aly Yale

The 5 Ways to Drive Home Your Branding

5 Ways to Drive Home Branding Graphic

It’s not enough to just develop your brand.

If you want your brand to be effective, powerful and, of course, lucrative, you need to really drive it home with your customers.

They should remember it. They should resonate with it. They should feel connected to it.

All this is much easier said than done, though, and many brands aren’t able to accomplish it. They simply shout their brand values into the oblivion, never to see another dollar or loyal customer because of it.

Want to make sure you’re not in this group? It’s time to start ingraining that brand in your customers’ minds today.

 

How to Insist on Your Branding

Branding is all about insistence – insisting your company is known, recognized and remembered for what it stands for and what it does best.

In general, there are 5 ways to attack insistence. Doing just one will help your branding a little, while doing all 5 will give you the full momentum you need to dominate your market.

Here are the 5 ways to start insisting on your brand today:

  1. Awareness – There are a few facets of awareness. First, you need to make sure customers are aware that the products and services you sell exist. Second, they need to be aware of your specific brand or line of products. The goal is to be the first (or only) brand they associate with your marketplace. And third, customers need to be aware of where to buy your products and how to do business with you.
  2. Differentiation – To make your brand the go-to choice in your industry, you need to focus on differentiating it from others in your space. This means literally (different colored logos, websites, product designs, etc.) but also from a consumer benefit standpoint. How does your brand better help the customer than your competitors? Make this known, and you’ll be stealing away business in no time.
  3. Emotional connection – This one’s a biggie. Once a customer knows your brand and is aware of what you sell, they must also like your brand. They need to feel something for it and have an emotional connection with some facet of your business. Though it seems like an emotional connection would be hard to establish, the web actually makes it quite easy. Interacting with customers on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, creating helpful and valuable blogs, and even just delivering killer customer service can all help. In-person and sponsored events can give your efforts a boost too.
  4. Accessibility – This one’s a no-brainer. For customers to make your brand a part of their life, you have to be accessible. That means having a store location in their area or having an online shop where customers can purchase products from anywhere in the world. There’s no point in having a loyal fan if they can’t do business with you!
  5. Value – Last but not least, your brand needs to deliver undeniable value to your customers. No matter your price point, they need to feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal – that they’ve come out on top. Focusing on quality assurance, great customer service and fast delivery are great ways to drive home your value, as are well-timed specials and sales. The key is to just know your audience, and give them the benefits they’re looking for every time.

You’ve worked hard to establish a smart, well-positioned brand, so don’t let that go to waste. Drive that branding home with your audience, and really use it to improve your sales and customer base. Want more help doing that? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today. Our branding experts are here to help.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Rebranding

steps to rebrandingIn the wake of Google’s recent logo change, it seems everyone is jumping on board the rebranding bandwagon, revamping, retooling and repositioning their businesses to better target a more modern digital audience.

But rebranding isn’t as simple as hiring a graphic designer, whipping out a new logo and changing your company motto. It’s an extensive, step-by-step process that should be developed and executed with the utmost strategy in mind.

Are you looking to rebrand your business? Here’s a guide to getting it done:

  1. Start with research. Conduct surveys with past and current customers, as well as other professionals in the industry. Get an idea of what works with your brand, what doesn’t, and what its reputation is. Also take time to learn about your customers – their likes, dislikes and needs. With all this information on hand, you can better understand the direction your brand needs to go.
  2. Develop a brand story. Overall, what do you want your brand’s story and message to be? How do you want customers to feel with then interact with you? What role do you want to play in your industry and in the world? Make sure you talk to employees when developing your brand story. They need to feel as passionate and excited about it as you do.
  3. Translate that story. Bring in your department heads, and translate your brand story into real, strategic efforts in every part of your business. Work it into your sales process, your packaging, your logo, your website, your customer service and any other element of the customer experience you can think of. Make sure your brand’s story is obvious and apparent every step of the way, from start to finish.
  4. Be consistent. Get the whole team on board with your new brand position, and make sure every department, employee and manager knows how to work that new brand into their everyday work. You don’t want any second-guessing or faltering. Commit to your new brand, and your customers will too.
  5. Test it out. Once you’ve rebranded, go back to square one, and do some research. How have people responded? Have sales been impacted? What do customers think about it? There’s no harm in retooling your brand yet again, if it means a more effective, profitable business. Keep at it until you get it right!

Remember, rebranding isn’t immediate. It’s take a lot of time, forethought and effort, and it’s not something you should rush into or hurry along. Make sure the timing is right and that your whole team is on board before jumping in, and if you need guidance or help along the way, contact the team at Haley Brand Intelligence. We’ve helped hundreds of brands reposition themselves and their businesses over the years, and we’re here to help you too.

Setting the Stage for Rebranding

rebrandingIn this midst of Google’s much-talked-about new logo last month (which, by the way, I’m not a huge fan of), today I want to cover rebranding.

Now we all know how important branding is; it affects how you’re seen by your customers, your reputation, your sales and much, much more. But what happens when that brand you’ve worked so hard to cultivate is no longer in line with your company’s services or values? More importantly, what about when that brand is no longer delivering the results you want?

Well, that’s when it’s time for some rebranding – to take a step back, look at your organization from the outside, and strategize how to breathe new life into your business and your marketing efforts.

 

The Keys to a Great Rebranding

Rebranding isn’t just coming up with a new logo that looks more modern or in line with current trends. It’s repositioning your entire organization, and giving a new look, feel and air about it – one that really resonates with your target demographic.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Rebranding is a process – not a one-off project that can be completed in a week. It takes time, effort and dedication to get customers to recognize and understand what your new brand is saying, and it’s not something that should be done lightly.

Are you considering a rebranding? Then make sure you have the right foundation in place first. Specifically, you should:

  • Understand why you’re doing it – Before rebranding, you first need to understand why you’re doing it – the overall purpose of the rebranding. Is it because your current branding looks old and outdated? Is it because competitors are entering your space and stealing away customers and sales? Or maybe it’s because you’ve changed your services and products and need to better relay that to customers? Once you know the purpose of the rebranding, you can better strategize what needs to change for your organization – the direction it needs to go and the position it needs to hold in your marketplace.
  • Do your research – No strategic move is complete without some good, hard data to back it up, so start researching early. Interview current and past customers, and see how your target demo has changed. Find out how your company is viewed and whether customers know what services and products you provide right off the bat, or if your brand recognition has fallen by the wayside. Get as much info as you can about your current position, your reputation, and what your customers need. This is the data that will help you best strategize and reposition your brand.
  • Scope out your competitors – Take some time to analyze your competitors, and see what they’re doing differently or better. How does their logo and website compare to yours? What verbiage do they use to describe their products and services? What customers are they targeting? This can give you great guidance as to where you need to take your brand (or, in the case of poor-performing competitors, what you should avoid).
  • Get everyone on the same page – Make sure everyone across all departments understands the direction you’re going in. Your social media person will need to translate your new brand in posts, your salespeople will need to understand the type of customer they need to target and your design team will need to know how to translate your new brand into a killer logo, website and other visual collateral. You want a cohesive, united front when it comes to relaunching your brand.
  • Don’t stray too far – There’s a fine line in rebranding. You want to differentiate your brand from its past, but you don’t want to go so far that you’re unrecognizable. You want to still be known and recognized by your longtime customers and business partners – even if there aren’t as many of those as you like. To do this, think of your rebranding as an evolution: How would your logo and website evolve out of your current one? What small but impactful changes can you make to move your brand in the right direction? You want your brand to mature and change, not become a completely new brand overnight.

Rebranding is a tricky feat, but if done right, it can have a significant impact on your reputation and your bottom line. Are you considering rebranding at your organization? Then give us a call. We’ve helped dozens of brands execute flawless rebranding strategies, and we can help your company too.

How to Understand Your Customers

customersLast month, I talked about the importance of knowing your customers – how details about them can fuel your business decisions, your strategy and, most importantly, your branding and positioning.

Today, I want to take this idea one step further and show you how to actually do that – how to get to know your customers intimately and in detail and how to find out what they need, want and think when it comes to your brand and services.

 

Methods

To start, let’s talk about methodology. How do you actually reach your customers and learn about them? What routes and strategies should you use?

Well, you have a few options. First, you could go the hands-off route, and use cold, hard data. This might be data from previous sales, it could be your customer database, or it may be analytics from your website or email campaign. Whatever it is, look at the numbers like this: What do they say about your customers? Are there themes that emerge? Can you tell what type of person is interacting with your brand? Which types aren’t? This is all important info.

You can also get more personal and contact your customers directly for information. The easiest way to do this? Create a survey that asks them everything you want to know. Just use a tool, like Survey Monkey, and send your past customers an email with the link. If you really want to up the chance they’ll take part, offer them something in exchange for their time – a discount code, free gift or entry into a raffle.

To get even more detail from your customers, you can also schedule phone or in-person interviews with a select few. Make sure they’re ones who can give you lots of info – people who have been repeat buyers or ones who have referred you to others. These customers are going to give you the most info for your time and effort.

 

What to Ask

If you opt for the survey or interview method, what exactly do you need to ask? What information should be at the top of your priority list, and what can you leave for data and analytics to reveal?

That really depends on your business goals. If you’re trying to increase your visibility, you’ll want to get info about how customers found you and connected with you. If you want to simply increase sales or customers, you’ll want more details on customer motivation – why they’re buying, what they need, and what hurdles they face when they come to you.

If you’re in need of positioning or strategy help, more background info will be helpful, things like your customers’ financial security, their employment status, their family/household size, etc. This will help you better position and market your services to the right type of customer.

 

Getting Started

At Haley Brand, we know how important it is to know your customer. We’ve worked with dozens of clients, helping them survey, interview and learn about their customer base on a detailed level. Need help doing the same at your company? Want guidance on turning that knowledge into strategy? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

The Key to a Great Brand Strategy: Knowing Your Customers

brand strategyWhen it comes to creating brand strategy, there’s no secret sauce or sure-fire formula that will guarantee success. The truth is, it depends on a number of factors – your marketplace, your products, your brand’s perception and more.

Sound overwhelming?

Well, it can be. Luckily, there is one place you can always look for guidance: YOUR CUSTOMERS.

The Power of Knowing Your Customer

In the branding world, your customers are your encyclopedia – the resource you can tap for all sorts of information that can power your decisions, strategies and marketing efforts.

And I don’t mean the customers you want to have. I mean the customers you already have.

It might sound counterintuitive (why consider current customers when you want to bring in NEW ones?), but the logic behind it is simple. By knowing your current and past customers, you’re able to determine what brought them to you – their needs, wants, concerns, etc. You can even find out what you could have done better.

With this data in hand, you can determine:

  • The type of customer you should be targeting – The biggest thing you can learn from your current customers is the type of audience you should be targeting. If you learn that your current customers are 70 percent female, concentrated in the South, and have one to two kids, then you’ve just found your gold mine. You’re obviously appealing to this demo, so pivot your strategy and start finding ways to better reach this audience and bring them in.
  • The best method of reaching those customers – Next, you can use this data to determine how to reach those customers. If you find out your current customers are big Facebook users, crank out a great Facebook ad campaign and up your social media game. If your current customers mostly found you through Google, hire an SEO expert and up your visibility.
  • The pain points of those customers – You can also learn about your current customers’ pain points – the needs they had and the hurdles they faced that brought them to you. Did they buy your grocery delivery service because they were unable to get out of the house, because they were too busy or because they liked your selection of products better than their local grocery store? By knowing the pain points your customers face, you can better tailor your branding and marketing efforts to address them, as well as show potential clients just how much you can help them if they do business with you.
  • How to improve the sales or conversion process for new customers – Finally, current customers can give you insight into your entire sales/conversion process. What did they like? What was frustrating? Then you can use that information to keep improving and making your brand easy, convenient and helpful for your customers.

In our next blog, we will cover some ways of contacting your customers, getting to know them and turning that information into actionable data that you can use in your overall brand strategy. In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions! The Haley Brand team is here to help!

Three Types of Customers to Position Your Brand For

branding audienceWe all know how important nailing down a target audience is. Their likes, their dislikes and their needs can all give you valuable insight into how you should market, price and position your business.

But even within that smaller, narrowed-down segment of the population in mind, there is still a wide variety of people you’ll encounter – people with different opinions, different ideas and different approaches to life. And because of this, they’re not all going to interact with your brand in the same way – no matter how much you think you know about their demo and their perceived “needs.”

So what’s the solution? First, you need to learn about these different types of customers, as well as how they will interact with your brand. Then you can properly strategize how to reach them, cultivate them and turn them into valuable, long-term customers.

Though every target audience is different, there are usually three types you can count on to always be present. These include:

  • The Ambassador – This is the type of customer who, after just one interaction with your brand, can be turned into a valuable ambassador for the company. It may be a great product they bought from you, talking to a stellar customer service rep or even just seeing a funny joke you posted on Facebook. Whatever it is, these customers are ready to be on your side and promote you to friends, family and the world. It’s important to be able to recognize these customers and work on cultivating these relationships even further, as they can be powerful influencers for your brand. Mention them specifically on social media, reach out to them by email, and keep them in the loop with your company happenings as much as possible. You want them to feel a part of your brand, so they 1) keep buying from you and 2) keep spreading the word. Don’t let them fall by the wayside.
  • The Critic – This customer is prone to judging and criticizing – sometimes even before interacting with your brand! They may dislike your company, what you stand for, your level of influence or even something as simple as your advertising campaigns or commercials. They’re also often vocal about this dislike, posting to social media and review sites like Yelp for others to see. While it’s unlikely you can convert these curmudgeons to paying customers, you can certainly still use them to your advantage. First, you can take their criticism, consider it and use it to influence change within your organization or strategies. You can also use it to show other potential customers what your brand is about, by responding to these critics honestly, politely and in a level-headed manner. This kind of transparency is valued by most customers and can put you in a league above the rest when it comes to your competition.
  • The Onlooker – This is a customer who’s on the outside looking in. They’re not buying your products just yet, but they’re not critics either. They’re bystanders. At the moment, they may not even have a need for your products or services, but that doesn’t mean they won’t at some point. For these customers, the best you can do is make sure you’re in their peripheral vision – that they know your name and have at least a cursory knowledge of your brand. Then, when they have a need you can meet, you’ll be one of the first companies they think of.

Becoming familiar with these common types of customers can make reaching them and developing relationships with them infinitely easier. It can also make a marked difference on your bottom line, so start considering them today in your branding and marketing strategies. Need help? Want more guidance on reaching your target customers? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

Is Your Brand’s Typography Out Of Date?

typographyWhen clients come to us for rebranding, this is one of the first questions I get asked: “Is my typography/logo out of date?” More specifically, “Does it look out of date to my clients?”

The truth is, if you even have to ask this question, it probably is. And you can bet your customers are noticing.

Customers are more business-savvy than we give them credit for. With their smartphones and tablets, they’re online 24/7, gaining exposure to hundreds, even thousands, of different brands and companies on a daily basis.

As they interact with these brands, they’re learning what’s new, what’s modern and what just plain looks good. If your brand doesn’t fall in line with that, they will gravitate to one that does.

It’s a sad fact, but it’s true: Your logo, branding and even something as small as your typography truly do make a difference to your bottom line. So how do you know when your typography is out of date or just not doing you justice anymore? Here are a few signs:

  • You’re using scripts or “handwritten” fonts – Fonts that look handwritten or cursive were cool about a decade ago. Now, they just make a brand look dated and out of touch. If your branding platform incorporates either of these font types, it’s time to consider a revamp – and fast.
  • It doesn’t translate well to the web – Your website is your primary marketing tool in today’s digital world. And while it’s great to have a logo or font that looks good on printed letterhead, if it looks blurry, pixelated or hard to read on a computer or phone screen, it’s time to kick it to the curb. Chances are it’s hurting your brand more than it’s helping.
  • It uses lots of bubble letters – Unless you sell kids’ products, bubble-letter fonts like Impact or Rockwell probably aren’t your best choice. They tend to look juvenile and less trustworthy that more clean-cut ones, and they’re likely turning off more potential customers than you realize.
  • You chose it yourself – Creating a clean, powerful brand takes a lot of forethought and creativity. If your typography or logo is just something you chose at random, without the help of a branding expert or graphic designer, it’s probably not as effective as you want it to be. At the very least, consider hiring a consultant to give it a once-over and make sure it’s doing your brand the justice it deserves.

Take a minute to look at your typography. Is it holding up? Is it still conveying what your brand is, does and stands for? If not, you may want to give it a second look. Contact the team at Haley Brand Intelligence today, and our branding experts can help.

5 Steps to Building an Effective Brand

Your brand isn’t just the products you sell or the services you provide. It’s not even your name, your logo or your motto.

Your brand is your company’s personality – how you make customers feel and how you’re perceived as an entity.

It’s an intangible thing that can’t put in a box or even really defined. It means something different for each and every business out there, and if you want to see success as a company, it’s something you should work to hone, build and grow at every turn.

Does your company have a unique brand, or are you just a business that sells products? If you’re the latter, consider taking these 6 easy steps, and start building your brand today:

  1. Determine what makes you different. What are your brand’s strengths and weaknesses? What makes you stand out from your competitors? Sure, you might sell the same products as them, but do you offer anything that they don’t? Maybe you sell your products online? Or maybe you have better, more comprehensive customer service than them? Whatever it is that differentiates you – no matter how small – use that to define your brand and create a company message to share with the world.
  2. Find the right niche. You’ve heard that old saying about a “big fish in a small pond,” right? Well, that’s what finding a niche is. It means instead of promoting your brand to the entire world and competing with millions of other businesses out there, you instead choose to focus on a small, more tight-knit group of consumers – ones who are more likely to become leads or paying customers, either because of their interests, demographics or another factor. Determining a niche for your business allows you to cut down on the competition and reach more viable, ready-to-buy customers, and it can make a huge difference on your bottomline in the long run.
  3. Be consistent. Once you’ve honed in on your brand – what makes you different and what message you want to convey to the world – be sure that comes through in every other area of your business. It should be heard in your website copy, in your press releases and in your blog, and you should even follow suit in social media and with imagery, logos and graphics. If it doesn’t fit in with your overall message and brand, then step back, re-strategize and try again. You don’t ever want to get confused for your competitors, so always focus on what you do best and the overarching message you’re trying to convey.
  4. Reach your customers on a personal level. Nothing grows a brand more than word-of-mouth marketing – customers sharing their experiences with others, recommending a business to friends and loved ones, and just touting their favorite brands and companies around the water cooler. If you want your customers to help grow your brand, you need to reach them on a personal level and speak to them emotionally. Don’t touch base only when you have a new product or are hurting for sales. Instead, make them feel like valuable, integral players in your company’s success. Answer their questions on social media, make customer service and support a priority, and always go the extra mile to show them that your brand cares.
  5. Measure and reflect. Every once in a while, take a step back and measure the results of your branding efforts. Survey past customers, as well as random participants, and get feedback on your marketing efforts, your website, your social media strategies and more. Use metrics and analytics to see how successful your efforts have been at growing your brand, and if things aren’t trending the way you like, use this time to sit down and make some changes. Though you may not always see the results you were looking for when measuring, it will always provide you with valuable insight to grow and expand your brand even further.

Take a minute to consider your business. Do you have a recognizable brand? One that people can get behind, emotionally connect with and feel a part of? Or do you simply provide products and services? Building a brand may take more work, but the investment will more than pay off in the end. Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today to learn more about branding and how it can help you improve your company’s performance in the long run.

6 Reasons Your Brand Should Be Blogging

business bloggingYears ago, blogging used to be something teenagers did just for fun. More like personal online journals, they let users virtually share their stories and thoughts with others on the web.

Well, those days are gone.

While many people do still have personal blogs, the truth is, blogging is now much more of a business-dominated sphere. It plays a crucial role in marketing, and it helps brands gain visibility, expand their reach and draw in real, qualified leads.

Has your business started blogging yet? If not, it may be time to hop on board. Here are just a few of the ways it can benefit your brand:

1. It improves your SEO.

A blog can do wonders for your SEO efforts. Not only does it give you ample opportunities to work in your site’s keywords and phrases, it also gives you more links. Search engines LOVE links.

2. It provides value to your customers.

Customers don’t want to be preached to or sold to at every turn. They want information – answers to their questions, help with their problems and overall guidance. A blog gives you the perfect place to offer just that.

3. It establishes you as an authority in your niche.

You want to be known as an expert in your field. As THE best brand to go to when your customers are in need. A blog helps you accomplish that. Use it to talk about industry news, share tips, tricks and strategies, and just educate readers on your sector and what you do.

4. It is shareable.

Blog posts are extremely shareable. They give you great fodder for social media, and they’re easy for readers to email, Tweet or send to a colleague if they feel the urge. And if you can accomplish that, it’s not only great for SEO (more links!), but it can also expand your reach and bring in new leads.

5. It encourages engagement.

Marketing is no longer a one-way channel. Thanks to the web – and largely blogging/social media – you can now have two-way conversations with your customers. They can comment, ask questions and interact with your brand on a personal level, and that’s what drives brand loyalty (and repeat business!).

6. It humanizes you.

With a blog, you’re no longer a faceless company. You have a voice and a personality. You can connect with customers in a way you never could before, and that helps them feel more a part of your brand. They’ll be more likely to recommend you to a friend or come back for a second purchase.

 

The moral of the story is simple: Blogging can be hugely beneficial to your brand. Not only can it bring in new leads and customers, but it can also improve your reputation and give your clients real, measurable value. Want help starting a blog? Contact the Haley team today to learn how we can help.

 

7 Marketing Trends on the Horizon

marketing trendsA large part of successful marketing lies in your power to predict.

Specifically, you need to predict on two unique planes. First, you must be able to predict what the consumers want, need and feel (even if they don’t know themselves). Second, you need to have the foresight to predict future trends and strategies happening in the industry.

While the former is fairly simple to achieve (customer surveys and market research are great methods), the latter isn’t so easy. How are you supposed to know what marketing trends and strategies will work tomorrow, let alone 6 months down the road?

The truth is, it just takes being plugged in. Keep a careful eye on marketing blogs and headlines, and pay attention to what your competitors and others in your space are saying, doing and investing in.

That’s what we do at Haley, and thanks to those efforts, we’re able to stay fully apprised of what’s coming down the pipeline. Here are just a few of the trends we’ve seen rising through the ranks:

1. Going mobile – With Google’s big algorithm change starting today and tons of new gadgets and tech on the horizon, we’re going to see more and more mobile websites than ever before. Mobile advertising will see growth as well.

2. Content, content, content – The use of content marketing has steadily risen over the past couple of years, and it’s not going to slow down anytime soon. Blogs, ebooks, white papers, case studies and infographics – expect to see a lot of these in the coming year. Customers love them, and they’re also great for SEO, so it’s a win-win.

3. Social takeover – Social media isn’t just part of a good marketing strategy anymore. For some companies, it’s actually the whole campaign. As the power of social media continues to grow, more and more marketers are shying away from traditional marketing efforts and investing full-force in social instead.

4. Personalized campaigns – Gone are the days of pushy, one-way marketing messages and promos. Now, marketing is becoming a more personalized medium. Marketers are finding ways to better tailor their messaging to the exact customers and clients they’re trying to reach, and it’s doing wonders for building brand loyalty across the board.

5. More metrics and data – Analytics, social metrics and other data are becoming a true driving force in the industry. Marketers are slowly but surely learning which data points to hone in on and which ones provide the most insight and value for their efforts. Expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.

6. Videos galore – A few years ago, marketers only used video platforms to upload their commercials and other promos. Now, they’re learning how to use this powerful medium in more creative, effective and unique ways. They’re advertising via video, they’re creating video product demos, and they’re giving customers behind-the-scenes looks at their organizations. By the end of the year, there will likely be another dozen or so ways to utilize video in your campaigns, so get ready.

7. Visual storytelling – Instead of just blogging and writing content, many marketers are seeing success with more visual methods of storytelling. Infographics are particularly popular, as they’re easily digestible and shareable via social media. Photos, slide shows and webinars are powerful strategies as well.

Though this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, consider this your crystal ball into the coming year for the marketing industry. Is your brand using any of these marketing tactics? Are there other trending strategies we forgot? Let us know in the comments.