Category Archives: Brand strategy & positioning

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.

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.

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.

5 Ways to Weave Your Brand’s Story in 140 Characters

twitterbusinessCreating strong online social presence means your brand needs to participate in all of the top platforms, including Twitter. Too many brands shy away from Twitter, not understanding the potential impact the platform can have on an online marketing strategy.

With almost 300 million users, Twitter has become one of the most effective means of getting your message out to an expansive audience. When Twitter is coupled with a comprehensive content strategy, the impacts are truly limitless! But how do you take your brand’s story and negotiate it down to 140 characters and still keep the message impactful?

Here are five ways to stand out on Twitter with an impactful and retweetable brand story:

1.    140 Characters Is the Limit – But 100 Characters Should Be Your Goal

If you want to increase your retweet power (i.e., the ability for someone to share your tweet with others via their Twitter stream), then don’t max out your character counter. When something gets retweeted, Twitter adds “RT” to the tweet – so leaving a little padding will give the would-be retweeter the room they need to share your full message with the world.

Without this space, part of your message will be cut off and removed in order to provide the needed space to add the “RT.”

Leaving a bit more room also gives you future retweeter space to add a comment.  The comment allows them to make it more personal, therefore appealing to their audience and giving your tweet new life.

2.    Incorporate Extra Tweet Power #hashtagpower

There is a time and place for hashtags – and that place is Twitter! Adding an appropriate hashtag to your tweet can not only extend your tweet’s keyword impact, it can also provide an additional avenue for your brand’s personality to come through.

To create a powerful hashtag, keep the following in mind:

–       Avoid using too many words together #toomanywordsishardtofollow

–       Limit yourself to one hashtag per tweet #hashtagoverloadisnotcool

–       Don’t use the same tags in every tweet #learntobecreative

3.    Engage Your Audience With a Question

You have over 300 million users at your disposal, so don’t miss this opportunity – engage them in a conversation. Yes, a conversation! You really can have a meaningful conversation and develop a connection with your target audience in 140 characters or less.

With a question in your tweet, you are opening up the opportunity for your audience to engage with you directly. Considering opening lines like:

–       “How many people…?”

–       “Which of our products do you…?”

–       “Did you ever wonder why…?”

–       “Why did you purchase our…?”

–       “Ever notice that…?”

4.    Everything You Learned in English – Use It Here

Just because some celebrities don’t use proper grammar or punctuation in their tweets doesn’t mean your brand should follow suit. Even if you share the same target audience as the world’s top Twitter users, don’t pick up these habits. Stay true to your brand’s personality and have fun, but do it while incorporating the basic rules and standards of the English language.

Embrace Spell Check; ask your copy editor for assistance; and if all else fails, friend your high school English teacher on Facebook and ask her for advice.

5.    Be Original – Be Yourself

Of all the tricks of the trade for being successful on Twitter, this is by far the more important. You want to stand out from the crowd? Then be true to yourself…be true to your brand.

Don’t just put the same tweets out there that everyone else does. Let your brand’s personality show through in every tweet you send out. Being unique and authentic will go a long way with the end user and will not only stand out but odds are will become something they connect with and share with others.

As you can tell, just tossing out a tweet from time to time can clearly do more harm than good. In order to get the most impact, you need to think strategically and follow a few basic rules. Once you experience the benefits of a well-crafted Twitter strategy, we’re sure you’ll never be careless in your tweets again.

Ready to talk strategy and take your brand’s story to the next level?  #tweetagoodgame  Then contact the Haley Brand team and let us show you how to launch your tweets into super-cyber stardom.

Spark Social Media Engagement With Brand Storylines

Spark Brand StorylinesYou’ve read the blogs and downloaded the apps. You post content to your social media pages on a daily basis.  The problem is, you’re seeing little, if any, traction. Odds are, you’re falling into the same trap as countless other brands that attempt to manage social media as a one-way push of information instead of a two-way conversational opportunity.

One-way conversations on social media do not cultivate vibrant, purposeful conversations with your consumers, nor do they serve as an avenue for building brand advocates. However, when you change your game plan and open up your daily posting activity to two-way conversation starters, you’ll spark engagement with your consumers and light a fire under your social media strategy that will grow and grow.

Brand Storyline Conversations

It’s so easy to ignore a brand that doesn’t engage with you, but it’s hard to ignore a brand that strikes up a conversation with you. Conversations build relationships, demonstrate what sets your brand apart from the others, and keeps your brand top-of-mind with consumers.

Brand storylines take the conversation from general to something very specific – storylines create two-way conversations that revolve around a brand’s offerings, brand lifestyle and core values. It’s a great way to engage users and to discover what they truly think about your brand and where they’d like to see you take your product roadmap in the future.

Elements of a Brand Storyline

What makes brand storylines so effective is that they are crafted to connect with and focus the conversation with your target audience specifically around your brand. It’s subtle and, if done correctly, won’t come off as a commercial or marketing blurb.

A brand storyline is comprised of three essential elements:

  1. Expertise: It’s a topic you and your team know well and draws from your company’s core expertise.
  2. Strong Opinions: It’s a topic your company is passionate about. You can take a stance on it and boldly share your opinions.
  3. Point of Sharing: The topic resonates with your target market and encourages others to participate in the conversation.

As with anything, craftsmanship matters. If any elements are missing from the social media strategy architecture, much like a three-legged stool with only two legs, it won’t be useful and will fail to achieve the end goal.

Spark Your Social Media Engagement

Most companies today have some sort of online social media presence. However, to stand out, your brand needs to go further – you have to find ways to spark engagement and keep your brand top-of-mind with your target audience.

Brand storylines shift the customer experience from a one-way marketing pitch to a two-way conversation wherein you are able to plant the seeds of a relationship. And after all, relationships are the core of any fundamental business development strategy.

So, what conversations can your brand spark within your marketplace? Defining those conversations and creating strategies that will ignite and engage your target audience is what we do at Haley Brand Intelligence.

When you’re ready to create your brand storylines and spark two-way conversations for relationship and business success with your consumers, contact the team at Haley Brand.   We’ll design a social media storyline of success for your brand!

B2B Buyers Research Online Before Buying

b2bmarketingSimilar to their B2C counterparts, studies are showing that in order to stand out and grab new business, B2B companies need to pack their websites with informative content to perform well in search results and engage potential customers.

In order to generate leads online, companies are turning their websites into information destinations for potential consumers doing research on their buying needs. Just as they do for themselves, when looking to purchase for business, consumers use search engines and social channels to find out as much as they can about a company and their products before making their final purchasing recommendations or decisions.

According to a recent study by the Acquity Group, 94 percent of business buyers and purchasers complete some sort of online research before making a purchase decision. The methods they use follow similar trends seen on the B2C side of business:

  • 77 percent use Google Search or Bing
  • 84 percent check the company’s website
  • 34 percent visit third-party websites to find out more about a company
  • 41 percent read online reviews about the company, their products and customer service

Like their personal consumer counterparts, business consumers consult an average of 10 online sources before finally making their purchase decision.

Create a Competitive Content Archive

Depending on your industry and size of purchase at stake, consumers may or may not want to conduct the entire transaction autonomously online. However, regardless of industry or size of purchase, the fact remains that consumers will do research before making their decision

In order to capture their attention and earn their trust to move on to the next phase of the purchase life cycle, you need to have an army of content resources ready and at their disposal to answer their questions. A strong content archive can educate your leads and help guide them through the sales funnel.

For many consumers, a lack of online information about a company is becoming a deal breaker and is seen as a warning sign; companies without content or willingness to provide information are viewed as too new, not large enough, and having no stamina or longevity.

Give your consumers what they are thirsting for – create a content archive that is full of information about what sets your company and products apart, provides insight into who you are as a company, and explains to the consumer why they need you. And once you’ve created the content, you’ll want to share it across the web on various social platforms, forums and industry publication channels. The more of your information that gets out there, the more the search engines will find it and deliver potential consumers to your site.

Doing the research, planning and outlining a plan of attack, and creating informative and captivating content is a huge task and one many companies don’t have the resources to achieve. That’s where Haley Brand Intelligence comes in. Our team of industry experts can create a content archive and content marketing strategy that will get your company noticed and bring leads to your doorstep.

When you’re ready to engage prospective consumers online, contact Haley Brand Intelligence and let our team create a content strategy that will deliver for you.

3 Revealing Musts From the Content Marketing Institute

The practice of online content marketing is a mainstream practice and one that has been adopted by both B2B and B2C marketers over the past 10 years. In their fifth annual report, the team at the Content Marketing Institute has provided facts about the trends, challenges and best practices found within the science behind content marketing.

The detailed report offers insight into several areas, but there were three in particular that stood out to us.

Guidance for B2B Marketing Content Creation

Not surprisingly, there isn’t a definitive answer on this. However, the report found that 59 percent of B2B marketers publish content at least weekly. Of that, 42 percent publish new content daily, leaving only 20 percent who stated they only published once a month.

This percentage is growing annually as more and more content marketers discover the power of online content development. Publishing content occasionally is no longer an option; daily interaction on social media and minimum weekly blogging or on-site content creation is now a requirement in order to stay ahead of the competition.

The Most Effective New Methods for Content Marketing

One of the things the report does well is create a distinction between method usage versus effectiveness and establish the importance of how the two concepts must work together for long-term strategy success.

Case and point, search engine marketing (SEM) is seen as being effective by more than 52 percent of B2B marketers surveyed for the report; however, content marketing tools, which can help establish baselines, report on impact reach and outline keyword strategies for optimal performance, are only used by 13 percent.

If these tools were used when strategies were developed, these marketers would see a drastic increase in their overall effectiveness, making the effort they are putting into its use more cost-effective, impactful and worthwhile.

Adjusting the Right Budget for the Job at Hand

The report had a surprising find – on average, only 16 percent of the B2B marketers surveyed spent most of the budget on content marketing and 44 percent admitted that they spent less than 25 percent on content marketing.

Although it is clear that historically the bulk of most of these budgets is being spent on avenues other than content marketing, more than 54 percent of those surveyed stated that they will be drastically increasing their spend over the next two years in order to stay ahead of the competition.

The Haley Brand Intelligence team understands the pressures of needing to maximize your budgetary dollars. Our team of industry professionals knows how to deliver on performance without breaking the bank.  When you’re ready to take your content marketing strategy to the next level, contact Haley Brand Intelligence and let us guide you toward online performance success.

How to Successfully Integrate Social Media Into Your Website

Adding Social Media to WebsiteIntegrating social media into your website, branding and marketing is just as important as creating main content for the various pages of your website. As the content within your website tells users what you do, it’s the social media content that brings them to the site and oftentimes serves as the initial introduction of your brand to new potential consumers.

The Importance of Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement now plays a huge role in a website’s search engine optimization (SEO) performance. The content developed, both by a brand and by social consumers, now counts toward your brand’s overall search results rankings.

A well-delivered strategy could easily move your brand’s search result display from page three to page one within weeks, making you visible to an endless number of potential consumers.

Still unsure about the importance of an integrated social media strategy to your brand’s website community? Here are a few statistics that might just sway your way of thinking on the matter:

  • The message received on a brand’s Facebook page has a 47 percent impact on a consumer’s purchasing decisions
  • More than 62 percent of the global population engages in social media on a daily basis
  • 76 percent of Twitter users actively retweet updates and posts by their favorite brands
  • More than 12 percent of Twitter users have admitted to purchasing a product based on the message/updated of a brand posted on Twitter
  • 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies engage in social media on a daily basis and have incorporated social media tools into their brand websites

Social Share Icons for Social Media Success

Now that you understand just how much is at stake for your brand when it comes to social media, let’s take a look at a few steps that will help you create and implement a more successful social media engagement strategy on an ongoing basis.

Social share icons typically appear as a small group of buttons (like a mini-toolbar) on content, such as blogs, images and articles, which provide consumers the ability to quickly share your content with others on social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Social sharing tool bars are available for free via Po.stTicketMy and Sociable.

Your social share icons should blend in with the rest of your site and not be too distracting, as the focus needs to remain on your content. When positioning the buttons, keep them in line with your content and how users will interact with it. For example, on a blog, put them at the bottom of the blog, as that’s where users will look for them after they finish.

Along with a social sharing tool bar, allow for users to provide comments and feedback on your website. This is traditionally seen on product and services pages, testimonials pages and blogs.

Giving consumers a chance to pass on an opinion or provide quick feedback in the form of a comment section allows for user engagement, two-way conversations between your brand and your target audience, and provides additional content for your website.

Once you have incorporated the ability to share and engage into your website, you’ll want to add social media tracking to your tool sets. Whether you add it to your Google Analytics or incorporate it into your internal in-house reporting and tracking, being able to see how your social media engagement is performing in real time is what is more important. This real-time reporting provides great power in the “what’s hot now” with your consumer base and will let you adjust your content, roll out a new promotion or put out a public relations fire at a moment’s notice.

Have questions on how social media can incorporate into your brand’s current marketing strategy? Contact the Haley Brand team and let us work with you to develop a strategy that helps you connect with your target audience and uses the power of social engagement to further promote your marketing message and drive home sales.