Category Archives: Brand Voice

Happy Native Advertising Year!

native advertising

If you’re thinking of using promoted Tweets or Facebook stories, investing in PPC ads or creating advertorials in 2017, you’re in luck: This year is primed to be a banner one in the native advertising world.

While 2016 was the year marketers and advertisers started using native ads on a widespread level, they were still just getting their feet wet. This will be the year native advertising really blows up, and organizations and their employees will realize the true power and potential that native ads offer.

Are you already using native advertising techniques at your company? Do you want to start using them (or expanding on them) in the new year? Here’s what you can look forward to over the next 12 months:

  • Facebook and in-feed videos will expand – Though most people hate having a video auto-play on their Facebook feed or on a website, 2016 has shown that it’s actually a highly effective promotional tool … as long as the video is muted by default. That means companies are going to start using more videos with text, captions and graphics. Check out Tasty’s Facebook page to see what I mean. You can also expect to see more live and 360-degree videos, which Facebook has made popular as well.
  • Tech will make the biggest difference – Emerging technological tools will allow native ads to be more effective, easier to manage and measure, and more targetable.
  • Mobile will come first – When planning native advertising strategies, marketers are going to take a mobile-first approach in 2017, meaning they will design and test around mobile screens and tech first – not second. Visibility on traditional screens will still matter, but it will be advertising accessed on smartphones and tablets that will really be king.
  • Display advertising will drop – The heyday of display ads is over, and content will become the No. 1 way marketers and advertisers reach their target demos. In fact, this year you can expect content strategy to be the foundation on which all other marketing strategies are built.
  • In-house content will decline – More and more organizations are going to realize that creating content in-house just isn’t as effective or efficient as using a pro or agency. Expect to see more content marketing agencies crop up and for more organizations to keep content retainers with experts who really know their stuff.
  • Native ads will get more entertaining – Gone are the days where content is just meant to be informative. With the influx of content on the web, advertorials, Tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts need to be increasingly more and more entertaining to really get noticed.
  • Content will become better tailored – As the use of ad blocking software rises, advertisers and marketers are being forced to get to know their audiences better – and better tailor messaging to suit their needs. The average user can expect to see more relevant native ads as they surf the web in 2017, as long as marketers do their jobs right!

No one can foresee the future, so these are only our predictions, but no matter what happens in 2017, expect to see native advertising more and more as you browse the web. And if you’re looking to market your company or promote your services, make sure you’re educated on the latest native advertising techniques and strategies. It’s truly amazing what technology can do for connecting company and customer, and the industry is advancing daily.

Get in touch with us to learn more about native advertising or to get help creating a native ad strategy for your organization.

Who Is Your Brand?

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A brand isn’t a “what.” It’s a “who.”

It sounds strange, but it’s true. To the outside world, every brand has a voice – a personality with unique values, goals and needs. And it’s those values, goals and needs that help customers determine if a brand is right for them.

Unfortunately, not every brand has its voice and personality finely tuned. This can make it difficult for customers to make a judgment call. What does the brand stand for? Do they value what I value? Can they help me overcome a hurdle or meet my need?

If a customer can’t answer these questions with one brand, they’ll find another brand that’s better tailored to their specific wants and needs.

Do you want to ensure you’re not losing customers due to your branding? Want to make sure customers can glean your company’s values and voice from the get-go? Then make sure you focus on these areas:

  1. Your employees. Your employees control every aspect of your brand. They create the strategies and marketing plans, they design your website and write your brochures, and most importantly they interface with your clients and customers every step of the way. They need to be intimately aware of the branding you want portrayed to the public. They need to feel it, believe in it and get behind it, because in the end, they are your biggest proponents. If they’re passionate about your brand, they’ll make sure others are too, and that can go a long way in business.
  2. Your online presence. In today’s digital world, your website is probably your most important marketing tool. It’s what many customers will see first, before ever going to a store, calling a customer service agent or making a catalog order. Because of this, it needs to be clear and up front about who your brand is and what it stands for. I don’t just mean create a great “about” page, either. Your brand should shine through in your site’s design, all of its copy and imagery, and even in the layout and styling of the pages. These all contribute to your “personality” as a brand.
  3. Your social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media can allow your brand to actually have a “voice” – one that’s not connected to a certain person or face. You can use these platforms to really develop your brand’s personality, with likes and dislikes, a sense of humor and other real, relatable traits that people can grow attached to. Use social media to your advantage, and don’t ever let them fall by the wayside!
  4. Your customer service. Virtually any touchpoint customers have with your employees is a branding opportunity, but your customer service is No. 1. It’s during a customer service interaction where customers can really see what your brand is about. Do they value your money and business? Or do they make you feel like just another sales number? Is your satisfaction important to them? Or would they rather resolve the issue as fast as possible and get you off the phone? Your customer service can either leave people with a bad taste in their mouth or encourage them to go tell all their friends about how wonderful you are. The choice is yours!

Do you know “who” your brand is? Are you showing that brand off to customers in the right ways? If you’re not sure, contact Haley Brand. Our branding experts are here to help.

 

5 Branding Mistakes You Never Want to Make

branding mistakesYour branding can truly make or break you.

Good branding can be what separates you from your competitors, what makes you stand out in your customers’ minds, and what drives repeat sales, repeat business and long-term relationships.

But bad branding? Well, you may as well just say uncle now, and save yourself a lot of trouble.

Unfortunately, good branding isn’t as easy as just creating a cool logo, deciding on some colors and coming up with a catchy motto – not if you want big results, at least.

It’s about creating a persona – a company with values, beliefs and a distinctive voice that customers can believe in and get behind.

Sadly, few companies are able to actually achieve these well-honed personas. Do you want to ensure yours is one of them? Then take care to avoid these all-too-common branding mistakes.

1. Inconsistency

The key to driving home your branding – to making it stick in a customer’s mind – is consistency on all counts. That means your branding on your website, your social media, your brochures, your business cards, and anything and everything in between needs to match to a T. On top of this, you also want consistency in your voice, so you need your entire organization on the same page too. From marketing and sales personnel to C-level executives, every employee needs to know and understand what your brand stands for, what it values and what persona you’re trying to convey. Only through this will your branding come through in all that you do.

2. Not testing

Testing is the key to success with any business strategy, whether it be marketing-related, web-based or, as we’re talking about now, initial branding (or rebranding) of your company. When creating a new or updated brand persona, you always want to test it with your customers – or a segment of your target demo. Does it meet their needs? How does it resonate with them? What do they like or dislike? With this feedback, you can make strategic changes and edits until you hone in on a brand that’s truly effective and exactly what your clients are looking for

3. Failing to rebrand when it’s time

You might have a killer branding suite now, but in 10 years from now? It will likely be stale, tired and outdated. Every few years, it’s important to take a step back and really evaluate your branding from an outside perspective. Does it still speak to your company’s values and services? Is it still in line with today’s design standards and trends? You always want your branding to look crisp, clean and with the times. The biggest way to turn off a customer is to look out of touch!

4. Blending in

You want your brand to be “with it,” but you don’t want it to so on trend it fades into the background with all the rest. Branding should grab attention, be it through color, design or even just the tag line or unique voice of the company. Customers should be able to recognize right away what your brand is about and what makes you special.

5. Breaking from reality

Whatever your branding says, your company needs to deliver. If you have a fun, playful brand persona, but you sell paper through boring cold calls and fax forms, you’re not meeting your customers’ expectations. In fact, they’re probably going to be pretty disappointed once they do business with you! Your products and services need to match the branding you put out – both in personality and in style.

Have you made any of these branding mistakes? Want to make sure your brand is as effective and powerful as it possibly can be? Our branding pros are here to help. Contact the Haley Brand team today to learn more.

2016 and the Future of Branding

future for brandingIt’s hard to believe, but 2015 is coming to a close. In just 2 weeks, we’ll be watching that ball drop, clinking champagne glasses and ringing in the New Year.

And with that New Year will come new beginnings – in our personal lives, for sure, but mostly in our businesses.

You see, business trends come and go. New marketing strategies and social media platforms are cropping up every day, and branding fads, well, those go by as quickly as the seasons.

That’s why, when 2016 rolls around, it’s important you don’t just celebrate and raise a toast. You also need to set aside time to regroup, restrategize and reposition your brand so it stays successful in the New Year.

So what exactly does 2016 hold for branding, and what changes should you prepare for? Here’s a little forecast to get you started:

The term “branding” will expand even further.

In 2016, brands will continue to grow outside of their traditional box. No longer will they be just names, logos and company mottos. Instead, an organization’s brand will be its whole essence – every word of content it produces, every tweet it sends and every customer relationship it builds.

Emojis will be everywhere.

More and more businesses are using emojis to convey a more laid-back, user-friendly vibe. You’ll see this expand even more in the coming year, with emojis on Twitter handles, in company Facebook posts, in email campaigns and more.

Loyalty will be the goal.

Gone are the days when brands are looking to just catch a lead, close a sale and send them on their way. In 2016, brands will be cultivating customer loyalty more than ever. You’ll see more loyalty and rewards programs, more customer service touchpoints and more companies giving back to those who support them.

Brands will become more human.

Companies are done being static, cold entities that no one cares about. They’ve started to become more human, with distinct voices, personalities and values. This will become the norm in 2016, with fewer and fewer customers putting up that business-vs-customer wall we’ve all become accustomed to.

Employees will become brand ambassadors.

Instead of just leveraging loyal customers to promote the brand, many companies are now moving toward making in-house employees veritable brand ambassadors themselves. They’re putting time and resources into training them, building up culture and making team members true believers in the company’s work. This will become a huge trend across all industries in 2016.

Brands will use all the senses.

Brands won’t just rely on sight in the New Year. All the biggest businesses in the nation are finding ways to expand their branding to other senses, like smell, taste, hear and touch, too. Take the Four Seasons chain, for example. They’re pumping in custom air scents into each of their locations, giving customers not only a beautiful sight to behold, but calming, relaxing scents to remember too.

Speed will be No. 1.

Delivering customer satisfaction fast will become the No. 1 priority for many brands in the coming year. Online ordering apps, on-demand delivery services, chat help and more will all see growth as 2016 gets rolling. Starbucks and Taco Bell are already ahead of the curve, launching pre-order apps that allow customers to put in an order on the go, hit the drive-through and pick up their food and drink immediately – no waiting required.

Are you prepared for the branding changes that are on the horizon? If not, schedule some time with your team in the early New Year. Branding trends are constantly in flux, and if you want to stay competitive in your marketplace, it’s important to keep up!

Need help? Want guidance on where to take your brand in 2016? Contact Haley Brand today.

5 Signs Your Branding Needs a Revamp

3425223559_b8c6be27d6Think back to the beginnings of your organization.

What was the marketplace like then? What technologies were popular? What designs and styles were trending?

Chances are, your answers won’t reflect today’s world. Depending on how long your brand has been around, they may even be so outdated they’re unrecognizable.

The truth is, the world changes daily. Trends come and go, and technology is always evolving.

As such, brands need to evolve too.

Brands need to constantly reflect the world they exist in. They must meet the ever-changing needs of their customers, stand out in the overcrowded marketplace, and mesh with current design and visual trends in order to stay on top.

If they don’t, someone else’s will, and that someone will win customers, make sales and take over the industry, leaving old-hat brands in the dust.

How long has it been since you created your brand? Is it time to reapproach your branding to better conform to today’s trends and technologies? Here are 5 signs it definitely is time:

Your brand is too busy.

Today, minimalism is key. If you have multiple versions of your logo, a dozen graphics and fonts blended together, or too much verbiage, you’re trying too hard. Customers should be able to glean what your brand is about with just one glance. If it takes more than few seconds to process and soak in, it’s time to rebrand and refocus.

Your brand doesn’t say anything.

Is your logo just an obvious, literal translation of what you do? If so, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Think of it this way: If you run an email client, and your brand is simply a picture of an envelope, what are you saying to your customers? Sure, you’re telling them what you do, but you’re not telling them who you are, which ultimately is the goal of branding. Your brand needs to show your personality – the thing that makes your service special and unique.

Your brand looks outdated.

Graphic design technology has improved immensely over the past decade, and you can expect it to continue to for many years in the future. If your branding was created 20 years ago, before Photoshop even existed, chances are it looks outdated. The colors may not be as vibrant, the images may look stale or dull, or the graphics may just scream “1991.” Whatever the faux pas is, have an experienced designer (with updated software and knowledge of current trends) take a stab at reimagining your branding suite. Chances are, you’ll be happy with the results.

Your branding is no longer accurate.

Like everything in life, your brand has probably evolved and changed over the years. Take a look at your branding with a careful eye, and make sure it still falls in line with your organization as it exists today. Do you still offer the services and products pictured/mentioned? Does it still speak to your values as a company? If not, you’ll want to tweak it until it does. Customers can’t get behind a brand with an identity crisis. They want a consistent and reliable one they can count on.

Your brand doesn’t mesh with other collateral.

Did you just launch a brand-new website but slapped your old logo up in the corner? Have a fresh, new tradeshow booth, but you’re still using the same branding and colors as 10 years ago? You want your brand to be consistent across the board, so when you redesign one item, redesign the others too. Make sure all messaging looks like one part of a whole – a cohesive, comprehensive effort that was well planned and thought out from the very beginning.

Have you noticed any of these branding red flags? If so, it may be time for a revamp, and Haley Brand Intelligence’s branding experts are here to help. Contact us today, and we’ll get your brand back on track in no time.

6 Common Branding Challenges and How to Overcome Them

No brand is perfect. Even the most tailored, targeted and well-thought-out brand has hurdles once in a while – especially as the industry and marketplace change.

But the key to being a successful brand? It’s overcoming these challenges with poise and grace – fighting through them, coming up with a creative solution and rising to the top once again.

Has your brand had some hurdles to jump lately? If so, you’re not alone. Here are some of the most common branding issues we’ve seen with our clients, as well as how to solve them.

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  1. No accountability or metrics.

This is a big one. How are you supposed to know your strategies are working if you’re not measuring them? Better yet, how are you supposed to improve those strategies (and your results) if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not?

Metrics are crucial to a well-tuned brand, and if you’re not monitoring them at every turn, you’re losing out. Work with your sales team, web developers and managers in each department to determine appropriate KPIs for each area of your business. Then, create a schedule for gathering these metrics, analyzing them and responding to them. This not only holds your team accountable for your organization’s success, it inspires them to constantly improve and keep getting better.

 

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  1. Being reactive over proactive.

It’s not enough to simple react to situations in the marketplace. If you want your brand to see success, being proactive is a must. That means planning ahead, knowing what’s coming down the pipeline and studying up on industry changes and trends you’ll need to be prepared for. Just reacting to changing circumstances won’t win you any clout; in fact, it may make you look outdated and behind the times.

Create an infrastructure around planning, researching and analyzing your space, and schedule regular meetings with playmakers in your organization. Make sure you’re ahead of the game, not constantly lagging behind it.

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  1. No unique niche or subcategory.

In order to truly be a success, a brand needs to have its own unique niche or subcategory within its industry. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a new product or service, but just something that makes it stand out from other competitors in the space. Let’s take a bike manufacturer, for example. Rather than simply “selling bikes,” as every other bike manufacturer does, an organization could pivot their brand and tailor their products, services and marketing strategies toward a specific niche – like commuters looking to cut down on their environmental impact.

By carving out this unique subcategory, they could narrow down their audience, better tailor their products and strategies and, subsequently, cut down on their competition. That’s success in every sense of the word!

 

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  1. A lack of consistency within the organization.

Having a consistent brand, logo and color scheme on your website isn’t what I’m talking about here. What I’m referring to is consistency within your organization – particularly your organization’s employees. In order for a brand to be truly consistent, each and every staff member needs to intimately understand the company’s values, mission and goals. Then they need to translate those into their own work, whether that may be sales, marketing, production, design or even just customer service. All the moving parts must be working toward the same goal, and this requires deep understanding of the brand companywide.

 

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  1. Marketplace apathy or irrelevance.

If customers aren’t excited about your brand, then you’ve got a problem. I’m not saying the whole world has to think you’re great, but if even your existing customers could take or leave you, or worse, and they could get the same services/products somewhere else, then you’re in trouble.

Apathy is a real brand killer, and if you’re experiencing it, you need to find a way to make your organization relevant again. Take a step back and analyze your audience. What do they need and want? What problems do they face? What holes exist in your industry that competitors don’t provide? What current trends or news items are important to them? Use this data to make small internal changes until you see results.

 

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  1. Just a name and logo.

Branding isn’t just your organization’s name, motto and logo, and if you think it is, you’re definitely doing it wrong. True branding is a set of values – an organization’s personality, voice and, as intangible as it is, its “feel.” These things need to show through in your name and logo, of course, but they also need to come through in everything else you do. That means your social media posts, your blogs, your ads, your customer service emails and every touchpoint you have with your customers.

Your brand personality needs to permeate all that you do, and it’s only through this consistency that you’ll build up loyal, repeat customers who are willing to refer you and promote your brand.

 

We’ve seen these branding challenges time and time again. If you think your brand may be facing one of them, contact the Haley Brand Intelligence team today. We can help get your brand back on track in no time.

Does Your Brand Tell a Story or Nah?

Today’s online marketers now understand the importance of creating stories, not just campaigns, that not only weave a tale of history and purpose about their brands, but that stand out and connect with consumers via a more personal social media marketplace. This emerging strategy is visible in just about every industry and resets the bar for online consumer engagement.

With so many examples of the phenomenal success of this new strategy, we are forced to wonder why more organizations aren’t structuring their own strategies and issues as stories versus continuing to pursue the dying art of campaign and old-school commercial marketing?

A Case of a Viral Success Story

zayuum-you-gotta-bae-or-nahWhere did you come from and what do you stand for have always been essential elements of a brand’s history, but the story a brand tells is more about the message, context and emotional triggers it uses to connect with its target audience. If you want to see a successful case of a story that connects, just spend a few minutes watching the videos of Nash Grier, a Vine.com sensation who has created a cult following on a global scale.

Wait – a teenager posting online videos is our case study? Yeah! What Nash did was simple – he cracked the code of online social media and created a viral story, which he tells through quirky short videos. His ongoing story and his message are authentic and entertaining, continually forming an emotional connection with teens through personal excerpts from his daily life.

Through his story, Nash turned himself into a brand – a brand that many companies now believe in enough that they sponsor his YouTube channel and provide him with products and apparel to pitch on their behalf. Even more ingenious is how Nash turned one very highly watched and shared video into his own commercial success. His “You Gotta Bae or Nah?” video has now become his signature calling card and is a slogan available for purchase on everything from t-shirts to iPhone covers on his website.

What Nash did was to be authentic – telling his story instead of pitching a commercial. His followers believed in what he was saying and connected to it emotionally enough that they did the work of expanding his social reach for him. This is a true success story in how a story should work online.

You Got a Story or Nah?

A brand story that is true, authentic and engaging will make the paradigm shift from traditional marketing to consumer engagement successfully. When a story connects with its audience, it becomes sharable. Statistics prove that brands with sharable content are seen by others as being more trusted. Brands with a sharable story become more trusted, with a message and following that are more organically created through brand advocates and become brands with stronger sales and growth.

Haley Brand Intelligence is a leader in crafting unique, entertaining and authentic stories that enable brands to stand out among the pack and create an organic following of true brand advocates and supporters.

Brand Intelligence

Next year B2B marketers will see a lot of activity around branding and building an authentic “voice” for the brand – particularly online. These trends not only impact the look and feel of a brand, but also what it stands for and the story it tells to prospects, partners and investors. Recent 2012 trend presentations at the Web 2.0 Summit by Mary Meeker, Analyst at KCPB and Joanne Bradford, CMO of Demand Media highlighted the requirement for story authenticity and content differentiation in 2012.

In her “12 Trends” presentation, Meeker talks about “authentic identity,” and how, in the age of ubiquitous technology, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people–and companies–to hide. Every prospect, client and partner of your brand is weighing how much information to share–and what to hold back. What we say must be truthful, consistent and real. She observes that social networking is proving to be not just a powerful engagement model, but also a pervasive new wave of opportunity that spans the online experience.

Slides of particular interest include:

  • 20-22: projected growth of mobile advertising
  • 35-40: online and mobile advertising opportunities
  • 42: content creation
  • 51-52: authentic voice

Bradford talks about how to create a meaningful story that captures attention and differentiates you from the competition. “Every expert deserves to be followed,” she says. The old ways of content creation are antiquated and new media offers new ways to tell a story. New communications must be clear and simple.

What do these digital trends mean to a B2B brand marketer? To me it seems that a brand needs to create a story and own it. The brand must be uniquely positioned against the competition through its story across every platform – especially smartphones.

These web trends toward differentiated content and authentic identities also make me think about brand naming. In 2012, expect names to become conceptual, as there are more than one million names, taglines and logos registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Names that are coined, abstract, or arbitrary stand the greatest chance of clearing the multilayer of the naming process.

As abstract names become more common, storytelling will increase in prominence. More than ever, brands are increasingly accountable to a vocal and socially networked public, so the story and the name are even more mutually intertwined.

It is critical to take a holistic approach to the brand and look at it from every angle for consistency, authenticity and unique positioning. Happy 2012 planning!