by Christian Cuevas, Operations Assistant
What is product branding? Why is it important?
Branding refers to the way people perceive your business; these perceptions are a reflection of what your company means to them. Company branding is often seen as something that may develop naturally throughout the life of the business; however, it is a very critical aspect to a companies success which requires going beyond getting the job done. Establishing an emotional connection between a person and the business he/she is dealing with is not an easy thing, especially in highly competitive markets. In competitive markets, businesses must find ways to differentiate themselves in order for consumers to easily determine where they are going to buy their good or service. Business owners often try achieving this differentiation through lowering the cost of their good or service. But they can also do so through well executed product branding.
Though consumers will generally respond positively towards a cheaper alternative, there is a reason people are willing to pay $1,000 for a smartphone that has the same functions as a phone that costs half of that price. As you read that last sentence, your brain may have already automatically made a connection between a product and a company. Regardless if you are a fan of Apple or not, their immense popularity in the marketplace is undeniable. When Apple released their first iPhone, they took an existing product (the smartphone) and made it different. Along with a new design, they created an operating system that provided people with a unique user interface and on the back of this product was the iconic Apple logo. Apple features their logo on every product making it easy for consumers to associate the bitten apple logo with all of the positive experiences and connotations that come with it. Apple is consistent with both the quality of their products and the unique experience they offer to each individual consumer. To many Apple users, the experience they have with products is so unique that they become extremely loyal to the company. Alternatives are not an option to these loyal customers, which gives the company an edge in their industry. Although much of the branding for Apple has come from their differentiation in the experience a consumer has with their products, the consistency in the use of their logo acts as a flag for their consumers to proudly wave.
Not all companies can brand the same way that Apple has branded themselves. There are some companies that have products that largely vary in target audiences. Apple’s products appeal to a very large group of people, making the user experience very uniform among most product users. The buyer of an iPhone may also want an iPad. In other cases user experiences are purposely made to vary because the audience is very different. For example, a car company is not going to brand a minivan the way they brand their high performance sports car. This is simple because the feelings that consumers expect and want from the vehicles are completely different. A person looking for a new family van may desire most the feeling of safety and comfort, while the person looking for that high performance sports car is most interested in the feeling of adrenaline and excitement. Perhaps the company is dedicated to mostly make family oriented vehicles, but they also produce that one sports car; in that case it would be wise to brand the sports car differently from how the car company as a whole has been branded. Show below, you can see the front ends of two sports cars from different competitors. Although both cars are respectively very beautiful, well-designed performance vehicles, one has an element of branding that may have already allowed you to picture the entire car.
The emblem on top comes from the front end of a Ford Mustang, while the bottom one comes from the front end of a Chevrolet Camaro. Can you guess which has been branded better? In 1965 when the first year of Mustangs were produced, rather than being badged with the standard company badges the Mustang was badged with a symbol representing power, endurance, and speed. This symbol is still placed all over modern day Mustangs. Both consistency and repetition are crucial when creating a connection between a symbol and a customer. The Chevrolet Camaro has had various redesigns in their logo since the first year it was created, which made its brand a bit unclear over the years. Today, we will see Camaros badged with the same logos that you can find on any of Chevrolet’s vehicles, reducing the vehicles unique qualities. In comparison, Ford has taken a different approach in how they uniquely tailored their Mustang product branding. The logo is not only seen on the front and rear of the car, but it is also placed on the middle of the steering wheel to greet the driver as they enter the vehicle. Though it is a small difference, it is the small branding details that can make a difference when a person is looking to make a purchase. In this case, since both vehicles are similar in performance, it may just be the brand that may persuade a consumer to buy a particular car. Building unique experiences that allow consumers to develop an emotional connection to your product or service is essential to establishing customer loyalty.
from Nathan Greenberg
Over the years, I have worked with many C-suite executives, directors, and other business leaders to shape, grow, and improve their branding. Often I tell them that they need to listen to outside opinions to better understand who they are and how their company is perceived. Why? Because business owners or managers -especially entrepreneurs- cannot view themselves objectively. Over the last couple of years, I have been listening to my fair share of outside opinions.
I became a shining example of “physician heal thyself”.
Arkside Marketing officially began on February 4, 2010. Our eight year anniversary will be celebrated in three days. Earlier in 2017 I came to realize that we were suffering from brandmark confusion.
To the left, you see our original logo (in a vertical layout). People saw our logo our logo as an “M”. People saw purple and brown. In fact, I vaguely recall the original designer of the logo asking me if it was an “M”, but I pushed right passed that! “No, it’s an ‘A’ and an ‘M’. I’m so creative!” Instead of learning from a few years of this reaction, I took it as a challenge to explain that it was actually an “A” and an “M” and the company colors were blue and yellow/gold. After 6 years, I asked our new Lead Designer to “clean up” our image with proper blue and yellow colors.
Before you ask: I have no explanation for why I did not try to solve the A/M confusion at the same time.
We also had a challenge with our name. It was clearly defined when we had a great employee named Mark. This was his cold calling introduction: “Hi. This is Mark, from Arkside Marketing.” Oy vey.
We suffered from Arkitis.
In 2017, something snapped. I heard yet one more person call our logo “the M”. That was it. The proverbial straw. It was time to change the logo. Only took me seven years to learn. But it also presented an opportunity to do something to our name that I had been thinking about for two years. It was time to shorten our company name.
This was an opportunity to practice what I preached. There would be no “design (or death) by committee”, but I valued the array of insights available in my own team. From production to accounting, I knew each had an opinion that could help the process while simultaneously reinforcing our culture of inclusion. This may be my company, but I appreciate the support and wisdom of others to make us all more successful.
We began with a good assortment of VERY different directions. It allowed us to refine what we liked and eliminate the definite no’s. Quickly I realized that if we were going to shorten the name, it would be ideal to do the same to the logo. The style was unique, just badly executed by me. This also helps avoid any mass confusion about the company changing. We would still be the same great company, but with a modified logo and simpler name.
With that direction, we changed the logo to be a true “A” and maintain the colors. “Arkside Marketing” became “Arkside”. We aren’t dropping any part of our marketing services. To the contrary – we will have some expansion announcements this year! We just eliminated the obvious. There were now logo layouts not previously possible with two long words. You will be seeing those across various media as the new brand is rolled out.
The result is the shorter name and logo we unveil today.
Just a shorter name and logo. At least when it comes to our brandmark. We are still the same awesome marketing resource you and many other companies have come to rely upon for the last eight years.
But there are other important changes coming this year. We look forward to bringing a new website online before Q2 with a more modern design and new capabilities such as a complete store of promotional products, custom apparel options, and even the ability to order print items such as business cards and banners.
We are also bringing new technology and processes to our in-house operations that will streamline customer service, order processing, and production.
To all of you who have given your opinions, insights, and ideas, I thank you. Certainly to those friends and family who have supported my ventures and trusted me with your business, you have made the last eight years possible. You mean more to me than I can ever fully express. But I will always try.
Thankfulness has been part of this company and I take this moment to refresh that practice.
So “thank you”, and welcome to Arkside again.
Reviews, both positive and negative, come with the territory of being a business and online reputation management. Some reviews are positive and say wonderful things about your business. Others are negative and detail customers frustrations about their experience. Regardless of whether a review is positive, negative, or somewhere in between, each and every review should be responded to in a timely manner. Many people we speak with want to know how to deal with online reviews. About 82% of American adults read reviews before they purchase something for the first time. That’s a lot of eyes looking at your reputation, so if you make sure your voice is present in the conversation you are able to help explain the negative reviews and encourage more positive ones.
You have probably had a variety of experiences with online reviews. You may have received good ones, bad ones, or posted your own about business. They’re important. When it comes to handling ones posted about your business, there are best practices we recommend to obtain the best outcome. In most cases, you want to reply for a variety of reasons. There may be reasons to send a private message (when possible). In other circumstances it may be best to do both. Finally, the one everyone hopes for, just report the review as spam and watch it disappear. We’ll cover all of these scenarios below.
Did you know: 68% of reviews on Yelp are 4 or 5- star reviews? If your reviews mimic this trend, that’s 68% of your customer base that you are ignoring if you only take the time to respond to the negative reviews. Another benefit of responding to positive reviews, is that it helps build a better relationship with your customers, especially your “brandvocates”. If you receive a great review from Tami -a single mom, who you made feel at ease when you fixed her refrigerator- and take the time to respond to her review, you have continued your relationship by showing that you care about her opinion. People looking for refrigerator repair will see that Tami felt at ease with your service and will be more likely to hire you. Instead of just telling five of her friends that you did a great job, Tami just told thousands of other people about her experience which results in a huge group of potential new customers. Although Yelp doesn’t allow you to respond publicly and send a private message, there are times when it is good to do both. Do so on those sites that allow it. If a customer has been extremely loyal for a long period of time or referred significant business, we recommend doing both. In most cases, a public reply is sufficient.
Responding to negative reviews also benefits your business. By responding to negative reviews, you are proving that you hear your customers’ complaints, care about their experience or concerns and will do something to make it right. You may respond to Mark, who visited your restaurant and felt his hamburger was too dry. By replying to Mark, you acknowledge that you hear his complaint and can offer to comp his next meal or let him know you’ll speak with the staff so Mark will be more willing to give you another opportunity to earn his loyalty. By showing those reading your reviews that you are willing to make a situation right, you are demonstrating a commitment to customer service and great experiences.
In some cases you may not need to make amends. Often, the customer just wants to be heard and know that a problem is being addressed. An important guideline is to not take reviews personally. The public doesn’t want to see you get upset because they will think your next outburst could be directed at them.
On those sites that allow you to post a comment and send a message, doing both may be a bad idea. Ideally, you want them off the review site. Continuing your disagreement on the site is counterproductive. Be wary of the situation and act according to how you feel they will be most likely to react.
Sometimes businesses receive reviews they don’t deserve. This is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to how to deal with online reviews. For our clients, we have seen reviews posted by their competitors, customers who never actually had work done, and outlandish requests that are impossible to fulfill. These are some of the few examples of reviews that can potentially be removed. They are fraudulent in one way or another. Understand that all review sites are very reluctant to remove reviews. They aren’t interested in a factual dispute between two parties. This is true even when facts are not in dispute. You don’t have to make amends like you did with Mark, but make sure they feel heard. People are reading their review and do not understand the circumstances surrounding it. In some cases, you can explain the situation through your response but with others it allows you to get your voice into the conversation and just acknowledge that you understand how the reviewer feels.
While replying to reviews may take a few minutes out of your day, it can vastly improve your appearance to potential customers. By taking the time to reply to reviews in a timely manner you show you care about your customers, value their opinions and concerns, and are willing to stand behind your business or product. Want to learn how we can help you with online reputation management? Contact us today!
Few things are as important to your business as your brand identity. The branding of your company is about your logo, your appearance, your service, your products, and your reputation. It is how the world perceives you. Your ad agency should understand and appreciate the importance of brand development.“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” –Jeff Bezos
The development and protection of a brand is critical. A critical element of that brand representation is your logo. It is the most commonly seen visual representation of your company. Hundreds of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars go into the promotion of a logo. When we come across instances like the ones below, we wonder if the agency truly understands the value of their client’s brand:
These examples were taken from the home page rotator of a US regional Chevrolet dealer association website. They represent 57% of the images in that rotator. That makes such errors difficult to excuse as isolated incidents or something not reviewed by multiple employees (graphic designer, project manager, account executive) and the client.
We are the first to admit that we aren’t perfect. No agency or person is perfect. But errors like this speak to a larger problem of disregarding the fundamentals of brand integrity. Imagine the IBM logo being printed backwards on a company brochure. Or Google having a typo and showing up “Gogle”. It wouldn’t make it off the printing press.
Protect your logo.
Protect your reputation.
Demand an agency that does the same.
Arkside Marketing is a full-service ad agency, specializing in regulated enterprises such as law firms, car dealerships, hospitals, and financial institutions. If you would like a complimentary analysis of your current marketing efforts or brand identity, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can come to your office or conduct the analysis online via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Join.me.
Is it worth marketing an anniversary? As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.“
We, the awesome Arkside Marketing team, are celebrating our five year anniversary in 2015. Each anniversary of your company’s beginning represents the end of a chapter and the simultaneous start of another. But that is a generalized observation with arguable meaning. Of strategic importance is the marketing value of that anniversary and how it can be used with employees, vendors, investors, customers, and potential customers.
Let’s jump into a couple you may not have considered:
1 year – Your first year in business. You made it!
5 years – Most businesses fail in their first five years. If you’re still around, its time celebrate.
Always commemorate the traditional increments of 10 (10, 20, 30, etc.) and half-10 (15, 25, 35, etc.) anniversaries.
Also consider numbers that are relevant to your particular industry or company:
These milestones give you an opportunity to reconnect with your customers using a completely non-sales touch point. You are suddenly empowered with a new way to stay top-of-mind, offer a unique incentives, and provide an experience unmatched by your competition. (Assuming they aren’t celebrating an anniversary at the same time).
The key is to share your excitement with your customers. Tell your story. Your employees may be your best source of material, especially if they have been around for multiple milestones or even from Day 1. Share trivia and experiences from the company’s history: how did the company begin? What was the last milestone like? How has your city or cities changed over time? Do you offer new products or services?
Here are ways for getting customers excited about an anniversary:
These are just a few ideas to help cultivate ideas for your particular situation. Your customers will enjoy knowing about your success, longevity, and whatever may be in store for them. Most importantly, each of these steps humanize a business. The management, the staff, and the brand as a whole become more “relateable”. In other words: great marketing. Few things can help a company grow like a positive relationship with a customer. They turn into referrals. Those referrals will be around for the next anniversary and so will your business.
This is the first of our new weekly #WisdomWednesday feature. We will share an important tip, strategy, or other sage-like wisdom each week. It is always our goal to give you actionable marketing or advertising advice that can help improve your business. If you would like to suggest content for this feature, feel free to email us at www.arksidemarketing.com/contact-us
For this week, we want to draw attention to the need for refocusing priorities. It can be easy to get lost in the minutiae of developing or redesigning a business logo. The right font, the right colors, the right alignment, the right whatever. All important. But they pale in comparison to the importance of staying focused on your customer. The right logo won’t mean anything if your customers leave due to a lack of attention.
Pick a font, pick a color, pick an alignment, pick something…then get back to work.
You have years of experience.
You have a nice office.
You have a strong track record of success.
You will fight for your client.
What makes you different?
As you market your firm, you need to communicate what makes you different from your many competitors. Keep in mind that before someone chooses to hire you, they have to choose to contact you. Your marketing should give them reasons to do that. Focus on your competitive advantages, then tell the world why you stand out.
We always remind our clients that they will never know why someone didn’t contact them. Maybe they didn’t like the website. Maybe the phone number in your radio ad was too complicated. Maybe they saw negative reviews on Avvo. Whatever the reason, the lost client has no reason to take time and explain how you lost their business.
Instead, tell them exactly why they should contact you. Here are some potential advantages you should broadcast to the world:
Whatever makes you stand out from the competition is a necessity to communicate. Never assume people know about you. The items above are reasons to contact you. They matter for very important and material reasons because they can help win a case. Many of them also speak to having great customer service. Firms that treat clients badly aren’t around for very long. The level of service you provide will reinforce the brand you presented in your marketing.
Communicating your competitive advantage will lead to phone calls and emails. Now the hard work begins: meeting expectations. Your level of service is another way to stand out from your competitors. Beyond capturing new clients, it can help you retain current clients.
Analyze the client experience with your firm:
Don’t lose business because it was taken for granted. Clients always have a choice for their next attorney. Work with your ad agency to ensure that you are communicating your competitive advantages, and finding ways to make your law firm stand out. Once you have earned a call, put the time and effort into retaining more business and earning testimonials that can be used in future marketing. Small investments now can lead to large returns in the future.
Arkside Marketing is a full-service ad agency, specializing in heavily regulated industries such as law firms, car dealerships, and hospitals. If you would like a complimentary analysis of your current marketing efforts, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can come to your office or conduct the analysis online via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Join.me.
According to a 2011 Gallup survey, 92% of Americans believe in God. Reaching 9 out of 10 in any group is an accomplishment in demographic targeting. In this case, however, it isn’t the same demographic because they don’t believe in the same god, or gods. And it is those beliefs that make things tricky in advertising.
Due to an inability to secure licensing agreements, likeness waivers, and modeling releases, it is fair to assume that using God, gods, miscellaneous deities, names of religions, religious adherents, or religious artifacts carries a certain amount of risk for any brand. Even churches (and other denominational houses of worship) are not exempt from the pitfalls of using holiness as part of marketing efforts. Although the risks are ever-present, there are also benefits to appropriately invoking a holy reference in organizational or individual advertising. We are going to examine those risks, rewards, and a few guidelines on how and when to use God in advertising.
With all of these considerations and potential outcomes, the most critical facet is your knowledge of your audience. Make sure you have an understanding of their tolerance as well as belief. If the inclusion of god isn’t absolutely necessary in your creative, it may be best to leave god to the clergy.
If you would like a FREE consultation to discuss your marketing strategy, please contact us and we promise a reply within 24 hours.