Category Archives: Branding

The Art of Brand Social Presence

Let’s face it, creating and maintaining a social presence for a brand online is an art form.  There is more to it than simply writing a few blogs and posting some thoughts on Facebook.  Once you understand the basics, though, most small businesses can tackle this task fairly successfully on their own.

Today we’re going to explore the four basic elements of creating and maintaining a brand’s social presence online.

Outline Your Core Message

The first step, as with most projects, is the most critical. It’s the step that your entire online social presence will be built upon.  What is your core message that you want to convey to your audience?  Do you want to relay information about a new product launch or an upcoming sale or is your message going to be educational in nature?

Whatever your message, all content, either visual, social posts or traditional article-based content, must support this main message or theme and drive back to it.

Humanize the Experience

One of the simplest ways to get users to connect with your brand is to humanize it; put a face to the brand, company or product.  Think about it…consumers are people who are social creatures by nature.  It’s so much easier to be social and connect with another “human” than an entity.

If you’re a small-business owner, opt for putting your photo on the site or incorporate photos showcasing you or your staff interacting with other consumers on your blog or Facebook posting.   This simple act makes your entire brand much more personable and approachable.

Got products or services that target specific user bases?  Then give them names and create avatars to help personalize them.  Consumers are much more apt to connect with and associate themselves with something they can see and touch (even if only virtually).

Create Two-Way Conversations

A great way to maintain your social presence is to create a two-way conversation with your consumer base.  Don’t simply push information out…enlist feedback, suggestions or ideas from your consumers.  This not only allows them to feel more connected with your brand, but it’s also a great way of performing consumer research and finding out what your users really want from your product.

Another advantage to creating this two-way conversation is that it also creates additional, fresh content.  This content impacts your search results and your overall social presence, as the main search engines are constantly looking for fresh, relevant content.

The Importance of “Being There”

Now that you have your message, it’s time to get it out there!  As a rule of thumb, outside of your own site, you should try on a daily basis to hit at least one of the big three with your content: Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.  The trick is to make sure you stand out from the other noise currently hitting the social airwaves.

Here are a few solutions you might consider:

  • Create blogs and social posts that announce your new product or sale.  Develop a message campaign that builds excitement, giving hints or sneak peeks, as the launch date approaches.
  • Create an infographic that graphically demonstrates why your product or service outshines your competitors or that visually explains why consumers can’t live without your product or service. (This is also a great opportunity to have a little fun and let your creativity shine!)
  • Use newsletters to bring information “you might have missed” to your audience.  In your bimonthly or monthly newsletters you can highlight blog posts, media mentions or customer testimonials that your consumers might not have seen if they haven’t been to the site lately.
  • Create an educational message or product announcement that is delivered by your staff, either with a visual scrapbook or a video series.

Experiment with a combination of methods and see what works best for your company.  The most important factor is that you stay consistent and true to your message.

The Importance of Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is a measure of how well your brand is known within its target markets and audience.  Your brand is your image – it’s the meaning behind your company’s name, logo, symbols and slogans.

So you can see why having a unique and memorable brand is vital to your business; through your brand you not onlybuild brand awareness, but you create a reputation and long-term position in the marketplace.

Branding: The First Step

The main goal for marketing and advertising is to create brand awareness.  Before you can create a favorable impression or motivate customers to buy, they have to become aware of your brand and its meaning.

Define your company goals and core beliefs and then incorporate that into your brand message.  Your brand message should not just be able to explain what you do, but also why you do what you do.

Once you have a clear definition of your brand, it will be time to get the message out to the masses!  Although print is still important  ensure that your marketing plan includes ample resources for online activities such as online ads, content development and social media involvement.

Being active online is an effective way of making consumers aware that you exist, creating a natural buzz in the market and helps drive traffic to your business.

Top of Mind Brand Awareness

The highest level of brand awareness is top of mind awareness. Top of mind awareness is when your target audience thinks of you first whenever they need to make a purchase within your product category or market.

You can build top of mind awareness through repeated online exposure and consistent delivery of a good product and customer service over time. Top of mind awareness is a huge advantage in the market as it ensures you are top of mind when customers enter a buying situation.

Build Brand Equity

Brand equity is the value your brand has beyond your physical assets, such as buildings and equipment.  In order to develop strong brand equity, you have to develop a high level of brand awareness; so once again, it’s all about staying relevant and top of mind.

The more people are aware of your brand and the stronger your reputation, the greater your profit potential and overall brand value. Word of mouth in the market plays a strong role in helping your brand grow and as is often the case in today’s modern world, it’s all about building relationships with your custom base online.

Over time, as you build these relationships, your consumers naturally become your brand advocates and begin touting you and your brand to others.  It’s this type of priceless brand equity that you strive for and must work to protect.

Measuring Your Brand Awareness

As with all marketing efforts, you will want to monitor your brand awareness in order to make adjustments to your message or target focus.

One of the many advantages to online marketing is that you can better track your consumer behavior – i.e. what was it that brought the consumer to your site and what they did once they were there.  Keeping close tabs on this information ensures your time and efforts for creating brand awareness online are being used most effectively.

As long as you continue to see an increase in user activity, both in purchasing and in social promoting, then you can be sure that you have strong brand awareness with a clear and effective message.

Managing Your Brand’s Klout

If you and your brand are active in social media, then you most likely already know about Klout.  What you might not know though is what exactly Klout is, why it’s important and how can you best manage and impact your Klout score.  These are the topics around the “mystery of Klout” that we’ll be tackling today.  Ready?  Let’s dig in then!

What is Klout?

Klout is an online platform that measures a brand’s social media “influence” throughout the online world.  Based in San Francisco, the start-up was founded as a way to measure a user or brand’s performance on Twitter.  However, the platform has rapidly expanded and now includes activity on Facebook, FourSquare, Google+, LinkedIn and a handful of other social media sites.

To anyone in the advertising, marketing or social media professions, knowing your Klout score is like knowing your social security number or your height and weight – it’s just part of your statistical make-up and a fact about yourself or your company that you keep track of.

So before we go any further, let me explain why your Klout score is actually more important than you may realize.  Klout measures your brand’s overall social reach (i.e. how many people will see your message online).  The higher your Klout score, the more people you reach, and thus, the more people see and are potentially impacted by your message or promotional campaign.

How Can I Impact My Klout?

Now before you panic about what all it’s going to take to create a good score, take a deep breath and keep reading.  Klout measures your brand’s overall influence based on your ability to “drive action.”  So basically, it tracks not only how much fresh content you put out there, but also how much you engage with and interact with others; so really, the trick here is to simply manage your content and interactions.

The only extra step you’ll need to do is join Klout.  Once you’ve joined, then it becomes all about managing your interactions more effectively.

Knowing that most small business owners don’t have excess time to spend on social media, let’s look at those key elements that will impact your Klout score that you should focus on:

  • Build a relevant social network built around your target audience (i.e. folks who will respond to your message and serve as your brand advocates)
  • Create content with a relevant message and a strong call-to-action (i.e. talk about your services and what makes you different, then offer a promotional code or coupon)
  • Stay active on social networks 5-7 days a week (for you “do-it-yourselfers” out there, you can set up your content to post via programs like Hootsuite, which keeps you from having to post new content manually each day)
  • Focus the bulk of your messages on Twitter and Facebook as they carry the most weight when measuring activity and influence on Klout
  • Hand out your +Ks on a weekly basis for two reasons: it shows that you are active and, typically, if you give +Ks, then you’ll receive +Ks

Flaunt Your Klout

After you have been on Klout for about 30 days and are making an effort to drive up your score, it will then be time to brag about your Klout score socially! Add your Klout score to your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and let everyone know that your brand has a social media presence with true Klout!

Brand Intelligence

Is the “constant” of change in your organization overwhelming at times? You are not alone! Today’s new empowered buyer has changed “business as usual” forever. What are B2B marketers doing in response? A recently released study by research analyst firm SiriusDecisions outlines what senior marketing leaders perceive as the top three drivers of change they are currently facing.

Read the key takeaways here to see how your organization’s priorities align with the top drivers identified by the survey participants in these three key areas:

  • the need for greater ROI
  • the expanding role of digital marketing
  • the move from product to “solutions” marketing

The heightening emphasis on the “science of marketing” and associated skill sets is shaping the marketing organization of the future. The Haley Brand Intelligence business model delivers the perfect complement to align the art and science of marketing to strategically support your organization in this ever-changing brand world.

Customer experience – it isn’t just for B2C companies anymore.

This article by Jennifer Barron, Jesse Purewal and Nancy Lu in January’s Marketing Daily discusses the bottom-line benefits traditional B2B companies like GE, Caterpillar and UPS have enjoyed by focusing on the customer experience.

Key take-away: The attributes that drive purchase and loyalty in B2B categories can be delivered as a customer experience for competitive advantage.

In today’s global marketplace, products and services will evolve and change, but the drivers of customer loyalty will remain the same. According to Barron, there is no better way to create this loyalty than to define, develop and deliver an experience that defines the brand and makes competitors irrelevant. Click here to read full story.

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!