Your brand can be a pillar of safety and certainty in an uncertain world

Your brand can be a pillar of safety and certainty in an uncertain world

It seems that every day we wake up to a new challenge in business (and life) right now. With the amount of uncertainty in the world in so many areas, it’s no wonder it’s causing us stress and doubt.

Your brand can be a pillar of safety and certainty in an uncertain world. 

We turn to products and people we know and people we trust in times of uncertainty, and that’s why it’s even more important to focus on building and maintaining your brand as best you can. There are many elements that can change, but if you focus on building a strong and trusted brand, YOU will be the one people will turn to when they are looking for reliability and certainty.

The best way to manage the constant changes is to focus on what we can have a level of control on – and let go of the rest.

“Do your best and let go of the rest…”

When it comes to your brand, there are many elements that you can maintain significant control over, and it makes sense to focus on those. 

KEEP TO YOUR BRAND PROMISE

Focus on building your brand around things you can reliably promise to deliver. It might be quite simple, but brands are built on trust and knowing your brand can do what it says it will, is essential to build brand loyalty.

KEEP YOUR VISUAL IDENTITY CONSISTENT

Keeping a level of visual consistency to your brand gives your customers a feeling of safety.

PRODUCE CLEAR AND RELEVANT COMMUNICATIONS

Know your audience and speak to them. Use their language. Make them feel heard, and show them that you care. Stop trying to be everything to everyone, adding too many products or services trying to please everyone. 

KEEP CONTROL OF YOUR WEBSITE

Understand the basics of how and where your website is managed. Ensure whoever manages your website shares the essential information with you, so you can access your website whenever you need to. Don’t “I don’t understand that tech stuff excuse” Your website is too important to let go of control. Get your details in order, know where it’s hosted, get the passwords and be the owner – don’t rely on external companies to know it all and be the gatekeeper. 

REMEMBER YOUR BRAND PURPOSE

Remember the big why of your brand – who are you helping, how do you make a difference? 

STAY TRUE TO YOUR BRAND VALUES, VISION AND MISSION

Having clear brand values will help you when you need to make changes or decisions. Check in with the bigger picture, aligning any decisions to your core values. Revisit your vision and mission regularly so you know where you’re going and why.

MANAGE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES

If you do decide to change course, manage the process carefully, being mindful of the impact on your customers. Multiple changes or snap decisions might be simply over-reacting to external factors, which may cause your customers to become unsettled. Make conscious changes directed by your bigger Brand Strategy.

CREATE YOUR OWN PLATFORM

Being too reliant on social media can be dangerous if you don’t really understand it and stay abreast of changes. Even then, you can be buffeted by sudden changes. If your brand has strong foundations, your customers will remain loyal. Developing your own website or being seen on multiple platforms is wise to ensure you don’t become too reliant on one platform.

STAY TRUE TO YOU

External events don’t have to change the essence of WHO YOU ARE and what you do, just how you deliver it.

Take the time to focus on the foundations of your brand, and you will build a brand that is steady and safe. 

Focus on building customer loyalty wherever you can, and your brand is where they will turn to. 

Be the certainty in your customers’ lives; they need it right now.

Please share this article with anyone who you think could benefit.

If you’re interested in creating a brand you can deliver with confidence, we’d love to hear from you…email us here

Learn more about branding from our blog post Why is branding important

 

 

 

Why you need a strong & individual Brand Visual Identity

Why you need a strong & individual Brand Visual Identity

When someone asks me – what do you think of my logo? I always have to ask more questions before I can answer with confidence. Because it’s not about what I think, or even what you think, it’s always about what your customers think. A Brand Visual Identity should be designed with your customers in mind.

Today, more than ever, we need to do everything we can to ensure we have the best possible chance of being seen, standing out and being selected – in whatever field we operate. With an over-crowded marketplace in just about every category across every industry, your brand sits at the heart of your business, and it needs to deliver the right message to the right people. 

Small businesses often overlook the importance of branding because of their business size, but the facts are businesses large and small cannot underestimate the power of having a strong and unique brand.

At the heart of your brand, is your visual brand identity. How well you deliver your messages is determined by how strong your visual identity is. Your visual identity is a crucial link between who you are as a brand, what you do and how your customers perceive you. It’s often the first thing people see when they come into contact with your business and leaves a lasting impression that’s hard to change!

First let’s make sure you’re clear what a Visual Identity is …

A Brand’s Visual Identity is the unique combination of all of your visual elements working together to deliver your messages to your audience. 

Your visual elements include:

  • Your Brand Name
  • A Tagline
  • Your Logo
  • Colours
  • Fonts
  • Graphics/Illustrations/Images

Now let’s take one step back

BEFORE YOU START DESIGNING …there are some critical things you need to address that often get overlooked … Your Brand Strategy

This is the work that business owners often like to skip, or fast-track – but without a clear brand strategy, you won’t get an accurate representation of your business no matter how good your designer is or how much money you spend on it. 

Here’s a few essential elements of a good brand strategy.

  • Brand Positioning – the distinctive place you occupy in the minds of your customers
  • A clear path forward for your business with Vision/Mission/Values
  • An in depth understanding of your Target Audience
  • Brand Architecture – a plan as to how your brand will grow
  • Brand Personality – the attributes that will connect with your audience

Armed with this knowledge, the creative process becomes clear and you can make confident decisions about what is needed and how strong your visual identity is.

10 ways to test the strength of your Brand Visual Identity.

If you’re doubtful about the effectiveness of your visual identity, here’s a few ideas to test it for yourself.

  1. Pride and confidence test.
    How well you deliver your brand is dependent upon how confident you are. If you’re putting out messages wondering if they’re right, thinking your logo could be better or you’re embarrassed by your website, you’re not going to pass this test. If you’re not confident with your brand, how will you expect your customers to react when it comes to placing their hard earned money with you?
  2. Clarity test.
    A brand can become diluted over many years of growth and change. It may appear clear to us, but it’s your customers that have to keep up with your changes and updates. Tweaking graphics, changing content, adjusting messaging can all lead to confusion for the customer. Take a look at what is showing up from the past too, if you’ve closed down websites or made significant changes over the years, there could be clouded messages from the past that could be adding to the confusion.
  3. Uniqueness test.
    How do you stack up on google? Have you Googled your name recently, see who else shows up? Brand names are becoming increasingly hard to own and keep clean, so it’s a good idea to keep abreast of who else might have popped up that could be encroaching on your brand name space.
  4. Customer test.
    Ask your customers what they think. This is something that seems so obvious, but very often forgotten. Does your visual identity reflect your current services? Do they understand what you do, how you do it, the quality you offer, the position in the marketplace? Or are you not reflecting your true products or services – customers might be getting a false impression of who you are and what you offer. If there is a lack of understanding around your products or services you will be losing opportunities.
  5. Future aspirations test.
    Is your visual identity going to take you where you want to go? If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have a vision for the future and a brand architecture as to how you’d like to grow. When you look at your visual identity – is it built for growth, does it inspire you to be better at what you do, deliver more or better quality? Or is it reflecting who you were and not up to your current standards?
  6. Personality test.
    What are the words that come to mind when you look at your visual identity? If you’ve got a personality brand matrix, supported by some inspiring mood boards you’ll be able to quickly see how well your visual identity is delivering your personality. Are you bold, interesting, quirky and fun? Or quiet, sensible, traditional and safe?
  7. Top of mind test.
    Is your visual identity memorable and unique? Are you going to appear on the list of your top 5 competitors? Or is it going to blend into the background and get lost amongst the crowds?
  8. Professional test.
    Has your visual identity been carefully created and crafted with the same level of care and attention that you put into your products or services? Is the design quality up to your high standards of professional delivery? Professional designers deliver professional results, if you’re living with an identity that is legacy from the past, a favour from a mate or a quick fix get you going job, your business will be poorly represented.
  9. Consistency test.
    When you look across your brand communication and digital platforms, how consistent is what you see? Fonts, colours, styles, messages … do they deliver a clear and consistent message that is cohesive with your business plan? Are you happy with what you see? Will your customer be getting mixed messages and a miss mash collection of design styles, logos and fonts?
  10. Satisfaction test.
    And the ultimate test, do you enjoy delivering your brand and sit back with satisfaction at the end of the week knowing you’ve created and delivered strong content that is on-brand, clear and taking you where you want to go – knowing you have a high level strategy in place and a plan to follow that will get you there.

A lot to think about, but it’s worth the time to ask the hard questions.

Score yourself out of ten for each question and if you score below a 7 or 8, it might be time to think about taking steps to update your visual identity. 

If you would like more information or assistance with your brand visual identity we are here to help you with this, email me at  sandy@elephantcreativedesign.com

 If you are interested in visual identity checkout this article  Are you delivering Your Brand with Confidence

Or you’ve found this information to be useful, please share it with others who might also benefit.

To gain more insight into our Branding process follow this link to The Brand Plan

The Importance of Organic Social Media in 2021

The Importance of Organic Social Media in 2021

The importance of organic social media.

Regardless of the size of your business, small or large, social media gives you the ability to connect with your customers, increase brand awareness, and establish yourself as an industry expert. If you’re questioning the importance of ‘getting on the social media bandwagon’ here’s some key reasons why social media needs to be an integral part of your marketing plan.

Delivering random posts on an ad hoc basis is not going to get you an effective result. Having a consistent and organised approach to your exposure is not hard, but it does take some commitment and knowing why you’re doing it is going to help you keep going! 

Organic Social Media is good for business! Here’s why …

Increase your Brand Awareness

Probably the number one reason Social media is a must for your business today is Brand Awareness. Social Media gives you that unique opportunity to put yourself out there, to share your values, stories and skills, to be seen, be known, be understood. If you can deliver your unique brand attributes to your target audience they will get to know you more intimately more easily and over time will develop a connection that will ultimately lead to more sales and new customers. Staying top of mind in a world that moves quickly and changes rapidly is critical, being in front of your audience keeps you ‘on the list’ for when they are ready to purchase or talk to you.

Communicate Authority

By demonstrating industry-specific expertise you can become a voice of authority or a trusted advisor in your profession or field. By sharing your recent successes, posting forward-thinking articles, or delivering valuable industry-related content, you place yourself in front of your competitors and position yourself as an industry leader. When a customer is interested in gaining knowledge or seeking advice in your field of expertise, you will be the go-to person or business to access the information they are seeking.

Tell Your Story

Social media platforms give you an easy means to connect with your target audience on a more personal level. People do business with people, and when you share your real stories and day to day work, it helps build a personal connection that people can relate to. From a customer’s point of view, this offers insight and meaning to your business and helps develop a stronger connection, build trust and develop relationships – even before they talk to you!

It’s Cost-Effective Marketing

Social media gives you the ability to grow your business without investing heavily in marketing. Social media platforms are free platforms with millions of willing participants gobbling up content hourly. If you take the time to produce relevant, timely and insightful information, you’re going to benefit from that audience. Consistently posting interesting and relevant content that is optimized for online searches will increase your brand’s online presence.

First Impressions count

It’s well known that if someone is researching a business prior to making a purchase, one of the first places they’ll check are your social media accounts. It may well be the first impression someone gets of your brand – so you want your profiles and content to be current, relevant and professional.

Word of mouth referrals

Connections are powerful and real stories are highly impactful. It’s highly likely that someone will see your content and share that with someone they feel could benefit from your expertise. Sharing is a powerful element here. Your social media accounts are linked by a deep and powerful web of people that reach far and wide, so all it takes is one person watching what you’re out there, that can share that with someone, who shares that with someone…

Deliver value to your valued audience

Customers today are a discerning bunch. They expect more and demand more. If you’re consistently delivering value over and above what they pay you for, you’re going to build loyalty and earn respect in whatever field you operate. Taking the time to produce content that is engaging, relevant or even entertaining shows you understand them, you care and that you value their custom.

Marketing has changed, so changing the way you market is important

It’s no longer enough to do a great job. It’s not as easy as assuming you’ll be ‘on the list’ for the next project. There are plenty of people with far less experience than you churning out oodles of content grabbing the limelight and potentially stealing your clients. It’s now a critical part of business to be seen where people expect to see you – and that’s online. Sure, social media only plays a part in the digital marketing world, but it is the most accessible, affordable and consistent way of being seen, being known and being understood.

And don’t give up, you never know who’s watching you …

Whilst you can sometimes question the effectiveness of your activities, it’s worthwhile remembering that most people who are viewing your material are not going to engage. Of course, encouraging engagement is great, but there are people who just won’t. And those people are very likely to be ones who one day will turn around and contact you with insight into how much they have appreciated and valued your content – and are NOW READY TO TALK TO YOU! I call them silent stalkers – and they are there – watching you …

If you would like more information or assistance with your content strategy we are here to help you with this, email me at  sandy@elephantcreativedesign.com

Or you’ve found this information to be useful, please share it with others who might also benefit.

 

Focus on what you care about

Focus on what you care about

Sometimes a quote comes along that really jumps out at you. I noticed this quote recently and it resonated with me, and after sharing it with colleagues, it resonated with them too.  I think it’s because I, like most people, have a tendency to allow distractions to creep in. I know it’s also because it’s time to look at how I’m spending my time and to tune in with what I care about. Focus on what you care about.

Slipping into auto-pilot – is a real danger, getting the work done, picking up work that comes along. At this time of year, it’s a great time to take a quick check on where your time is being focused. 

I enjoy working with ‘passionate professionals’, – I’m inspired by the level of commitment and enthusiasm they maintain. It’s clear to see that they care deeply about the work they do. They care about the level of service, the quality of their workmanship or the people they serve. They care about the impact of their actions and they care about the world around them. And the results show in their business and the success of their brand. Their business is about more than making money – it’s about changing and improving lives. 

But distraction can be a common enemy to us all.

The most successful people – with the most successful brands, are motivated by something that drives them – something greater than paying the bills. And they don’t allow distractions to take them off track. They focus on what they care about.

It doesn’t make sense to spend your time on things you don’t care about.

That doesn’t mean you avoid everything you don’t want to do …  

It just means you make sure you focus mainly on the actions that are meaningful, purposeful and enjoyable!

Sure, there are plenty of actions that need to be done that you may not enjoy very much. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about them! In fact you’ll enjoy them more when you have a positive reason for doing them and have clarity around how they will benefit you and your business.

Building a brand takes time, energy and focus and that time should be enjoyable and purposeful. Staying mindful and allowing time to reflect and ask the important questions gives us the clarity we need to make the right decisions. And it means we are more likely to stay focused on the things that matter most. 

Take a few minutes to reflect on your business – where your time is being spent? 

  • Are you clear on your brand – why you do what you do?
  • What do you care about? Do your daily actions reflect that?
  • Do you spend your time on things that matter to you? 
  • Where are you being distracted in your business? What are you doing that doesn’t serve you or your business any more?
  • What can you change that will bring your actions more in line with your values?

Email us here – we’d love to hear from you!

If you’re experiencing growth or change, or feel your brand could use some fresh inspiration, check out this article on rebranding  – 8 reasons why it might be time to rebrand

Please share this article with anyone who you think could benefit.

 

 

 

 

Why is Branding Important? – Why Your Business Needs a Strong Brand

Why is Branding Important? – Why Your Business Needs a Strong Brand

Finding time to work on your own brand is hard, I know.

Here Are Some Reasons Why You Might Not be Working on Your Brand.

  • It’s important but not ‘urgent’. A nice to have, not a must-have. You’re not ready … yet – it can wait.
  • You’re too busy working on your clients’ work – that’s what you do, and that’s more important.
  • You feel like it’s a luxury or an indulgence and fail to understand the importance of branding. So, you don’t put your client’s work down and do something for your own brand.
  • Your brand is OK; it can wait.

The thing is if you don’t ever find the time to work on your website, brand, or whatever it might be, or keep squeezing it in and doing it in a haphazard fashion, you’ve only at best got yourself a business and at worst – bought yourself a job.

Why is Branding Important and How to Find Time to work on it

Over the last 12 months, I’ve been struggling to complete my website. Squeezing it in has been so difficult, and my thoughts have been mostly with my clients, but I realised more and more that if I don’t make time to work ON my business – I’ll be less likely to have a business at all. One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients and colleagues is a lack of time to focus on their branding and marketing. That’s why I wanted to talk about it here.

I have brilliant designer friends who do AMAZING work, one has no website, and the other has an old website – too busy doing client work to spend time working on their own portfolio! I have associates whose brand really doesn’t reflect them – and they know this – and they know that if they had a brand and a website that reflects them better and more clearly depicts what they do – it would help them raise their prices to achieve what they’re really worth. I know so many business owners that are just full up doing what they do – creating, teaching, coaching – changing people’s lives – that they just let their marketing and branding slip by the wayside until they can get around to it.

  • They’d rather be doing ‘what they do’ than marketing on their own stuff.
  • They’re also avoiding it because they’re not too sure where to start.
  • And mostly, they just don’t have time to think about it right now. Maybe next week, or next month.

I get it; I honestly prefer working on my clients’ work rather than marketing my own. The trouble is, without focusing on your own branding, you’re really only as good as your last job or last project. You’re not building equity, and you’re missing out on a whole lot of opportunities.

So how do you put your own work on the to-do list and actually get it done without feeling guilty that you should be working on your clients’ work or just being too darn tired to find the time?

How do you shift your thinking from running your business to building your brand?

The answer is to learn how to build your brand while running your business – integrate it into your weekly pattern of activities because building your brand is part of building your business.

The Importance of Branding and How it Differs from

RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?

I think we all want to know we are building something for the future. If you’re always living from client to client – hand to mouth, you’re not building on the work and developing a brand that can one day support you.

There comes a time when you’d like to sit back and reap the rewards from all the hard work you’ve done from your face to face with clients and constantly delivering quality results for them. 

If you can carve out the time now to build your brand, the rewards will pay off in the future.

Running a Business looks like this…

  • Full days just keeping your clients happy, no time to even think about your branding or marketing.
  • Squeezing in new business development, with a haphazard approach to marketing and sales, hustling to get your next contract. Living off word of mouth and hoping that the next client will come along at the right time.
  • Days of endless doing, struggling through the day to day task of keeping up. Living off a to-do list and being relieved when you’ve just got through it – but never really feeling like you’re ahead of it.
  • Keeping people happy. Accepting what comes along because you don’t have the time to think and forward plan to select the kind of clients you’d like to work with.

Building a brand looks like this …

With a bit of time and focus on developing a brand that speaks to your clients, you would understand the importance of branding to a business and instead have yourself and your business in this position…

  • Developing a pipeline and flow of leads that are attracted to your brand, not just to you.
  • Crafting your future. Enjoying your work, knowing you’re building something for the future that will keep you engaged, inspired and making a contribution. Taking the time to rest and step back to assess how your business is supporting you and where it’s taking you.
  • Making the time to plan and foresee the kind of work you’d like and sending out the right type of messages to attract them. Allowing for flow days where you are crafting, shaping and growing your brand.
  • Enjoying your work more as you allow time to let fresh ideas flow for your own business as well as your clients.

Your brand will work for you when you put the time into working on it. That makes branding important to a business.

Read this article about the brand plan to establish your business as a brand.

 

5 Simple Tips to Give Yourself Some Space to Build Your Own Brand.

  1. Put yourself in the ‘WIP’ list as you would a client. Treat yourself like a client and put yourself first!
  2. Value yourself and your brand as much as you do your clients. 
  3. Think about the future, what a strong brand will mean for you, your family, your lifestyle.
  4. Don’t push things ahead that relate to your own brand or marketing on your to-do list more than twice.
  5. Make it enjoyable, rewarding and fun. Make space and feel good about building your future!

We’re offering a free Strategy Session to kick start the process.

If you’d like some honest and impartial advice on your brand, email us here

 

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