Looking for tips and advice on branding and identity development? Then come check out the Cloud9 Marketing blog with lots of great topics and trending inspiration.

search engine optimization SEO digital marketing

Marketing has come a long way in the last few years, if you ask people in the industry many would probably agree there have been more changes in marketing in the last 5 years, then there has been in the 50 years prior. With the explosion of the internet, uptake of mobile and ability to seamlessly track and monitor advertising spend and ROI online, it’s no surprise businesses around the world are diverting their budget to digital in 2016. Here are some key Marketing Stats that are so important to the way a business markets their products and services in both the B2B and B2C space, they simply cannot be ignored.

  1. In 2016 67% more leads will be generated by companies with an active blog

Content marketing is essential for optimal SEO performance and is the best way to drive traffic to your website. Blogging about useful, informative and engaging information that is relevant to your target market will drive traffic to your website, ultimately increasing conversions for your business.

  1. The average person now spends more time online then TV and all other media combined

This should come as no surprise. Smartphones, tablets and computers have become an extension of people’s bodies and people now turn to the internet instead of traditional media like TV, print and radio to get information.

  1. Total spending on Internet advertising is predicted to grow 12.9% next year. The Internet will become the largest medium for advertising in 2016 (ahead of TV)

Internet advertising is cost effective, highly targeted and traceable. These three features along with potential reach have seen the internet surpass TV for total ad spend.

  1. Social ad spending has doubled over the past two years.

Social media advertising is easy, cheap and effective. With platforms like Instagram now offering ad functionality, total social ad spend is expected to continue with double digit growth over the coming years.

  1. By 2019 mobile advertising will represent 72% of all US digital ad spending

As smartphones become more functional, and websites more mobile-friendly consumers will increasingly use their mobile to research and purchase products and services online.

  1. Digital marketing spend is forecasted to account for 35% of total budgets in 2016.

How much has your business allocated to digital marketing this year? Companies have noticed the value of online marketing and larger portions of budget are being spent on digital marketing.

  1. The top four channels for increases in digital marketing spend last year were email marketing (61% of marketers increasing spending on this channel), social media (49%), mobile marketing (40%), and SEO/PPC (38%)

Most businesses have a combination of email marketing, social media, mobile marketing and PPC as part of their digital marketing portfolio. It is getting rarer for companies not to leverage all four of these components to varying degrees.

  1. Mobile commerce is growing fast, 87% of internet users now have a smartphone – mobiles are revolutionizing business

Around the world smart phones and mobile uptake is becoming the norm presenting an enormous opportunity for mobile advertising.

  1. 93% of shoppers buying decisions are influenced by social media

Although social media is not known as the best conversion platform it is absolutely essential for brand awareness and influencing customers to choose your company over the competition. To increase conversions, social media advertising is very effective.

  1. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy a positive ROI

Content marketing is commonly agreed by marketing experts to be the most important SEO element and those who commit to prioritizing blogging are seeing results.

There is no longer a question of having an online presence or not, and a website that’s not producing fresh content, or a social media presence that’s sitting stagnant, can do more harm then good online. The question now is having the right mix of online marketing components for your business to ensure you are reaching clients with the right message at the right time.

At Cloud9 Marketing we specialize in creating customized digital marketing strategies for our clients in Whistler BC and around the world. Whether it’s social media, SEO, web design, graphic design, content marketing and blogging or branding, we deliver results-driven, customer-centric and highly engaging digital marketing services communicating unique brands to the right people at the right time.

whistler logo design

The key essentials to creating and maintaining a brand that will drive business and stand the test of time.

Think of your brand as a person. Let’s call him Ted. Ted has a physical appearance that can easily be defined by height, facial features, complexion and so forth. Ted also has some behavioural characteristics that anyone who has met him could attest. Ted is clever, sarcastic, punctual and maybe a bit neurotic. Then there are the more profound attributes to Ted that really make him the stand-up guy we all know and love. Ted is honest, value-driven and dependable. People admire Ted- he is true to his word and gets things done. Because Ted is the stand-up guy that he is, he has tons of friends, is invited to all the best social functions, and everything he touches turns to gold.

Can you say the same about your brand? Are the visual elements (logo, colours, packaging, website, and promotional materials) consistent, distinct and clear? Does the visual expression of your brand represent the deeper values and culture of your business? Successful brands know who they are, what their customers want and can succinctly communicate this through their logo and marketing materials.

Of course before a brand can truly be born the core values, mission and vision of the company must be defined. These big picture fundamentals are the crux of any good business and without these your brand is likely to flail around aimlessly like a helium balloon deflating erratically until it completely runs out of air. Do you know what your business stands for? Why do you exist? Who are you serving and what problems are you solving in this world?

Knowing who your customers are and appealing to them is crucial to creating a memorable and worthy brand. We’re not saying change your brand just to please potential customers. Quite the opposite actually. Know who you are at the core, be confident and convicted, and then think about who needs you most. Clearly articulating the features and benefits of your product/service is important when reaching out to potential customers. Features describe your offering, benefits address the needs of your target market and are why people buy from you.

Forbes Magazine defined the Top 7 Characteristics of Successful Brands. How many of these characteristics do you have?

  1. Audience Knowledge- Who is your target market? What do they want?
  2. Uniqueness- What is your unique selling point?
  3. Passion- Are you deeply passionate about your brand and committed to success?
  4. Consistency- Are you presenting a consistent message to your target market?
  5. Competitiveness- Are you committed to constantly striving to improve and be the best you can?
  6. Exposure- Are you accessible across multiple channels?
  7. Leadership- Do you have someone carrying your strategic vision?

So do you have an idea yet if your brand is hot or not? Does your brand reside in the hearts and minds of your customers? Successful brands have the upper hand in any business environment. They are easily recognized by their customers. Consumers are far more likely to choose a brand they recognize over one they have never heard of before. Once this type of recognition and consumer loyalty occurs it becomes easier to launch new products or services. Repeat and loyal customers become frequent and brand equity increases.

At Cloud9 Marketing we help small and large businesses create powerful brands that reflect their core essence and values. Our team of creative professionals craft vivid imagery through web and graphic design and our branding strategists work with clients to clearly define their brand and communicate it in a way that captures the attention of those you are trying to reach. Creating a strong and lasting brand is a hard task without the right tools and know-how. Let Cloud9 Marketing help you with your business’s branding- enquire today about our current branding packages available!

 

facebook-engagement

If you haven’t noticed yet, Facebook’s organic reach has drastically declined. A post that may have reached a quarter of your fans years ago now luckily gets exposed to a small handful (if any). That’s right, the free ride is over and in order for you to be seen or heard on Facebook you will have to work really hard (or pay) for it. Besides investing in Facebook Advertising, engagement is key to your ongoing success. You can’t just slap up a few half-hearted posts and expect grand results. Like most things in life what you put in is what you get out; persistence, routine and a bit of money will be the success of your Facebook Page.

Create meaningful content

In the real world, no one wants to hear about what you had for breakfast, how you’re feeling moment to moment or your opinions and attitudes about the meaning of life. The digital world is the same. If you are constantly posting about ‘me-me-me’ people are going to simply tune out. In order to keep your fans happy and engaged create meaningful content that will benefit them! Do you offer some great products or services? Fantastic! How will it benefit your target market? How can you make it personal to each and every one of your fans? When creating meaningful content ensure you are using a beautiful or catchy image with a powerful status update or headline.

Have a call to action

What do you want people to do with your post? Do you want them to like it? Make a comment? Share it? Visit your website? Having a clear call to action is essential for making any type of progress on Facebook. When formulating a post ask yourself, “what do I want my fans to do with this information?” Perhaps you would like some basic engagement in the way of likes to increase post reach. Perhaps you want to create a conversation by asking for comments. Alternatively maybe you would like to direct your fans to your website and take advantage of an amazing deal or offer. Make this crystal clear. Not only will creating a solid call to action help you achieve your business goals but it will increase engagement and reach on your Facebook Page.

Engage with your Fans

It’s great to be in Facebook-land posting and talking away but it is all absolutely pointless unless you are listening too. When Fans engage with you, make sure the communication is a two way street! It is selfish and useless to create an amazing post with a great call to action and then abandon it like yesterday’s news. Keep the conversation going like your life depends on it! The more engagement you can get with your fans, the more meaningful your post will be and the more reach your page will get.

Stick to a schedule

Frequency and consistency are key to creating a base of loyal fans. To compete with every other business in the world on Facebook you need to stay recent and relevant in the minds of your Facebook Community. Creating a posting schedule using platforms like Hootsuite or Sprout Social can help you organize your posts in advance so you’re not wasting countless hours dreaming up posts while you could be using those valuable brain cells on much more important contributions. When scheduling your posts, ensure to switch up the content. No one wants to hear about your products and special offers day in and day out. What is appealing to your target market? Give them information that will satisfy their needs (and then slip in some information about your promotions or products too). Remember to research what is the best time of day to post for your industry. Knowing when your target market is online can make a huge impact on what type of engagement your posts get.

Pay for ads

If you spend money on Facebook advertising you shall be rewarded, and come on, compared to conventional advertising it’s pretty cheap! It can’t hurt to boost your page for a few days every month to generate new fans. One of the best features of Facebook advertising is how targeted you can be. By narrowing down your target market using geographic, demographic and behavioural characteristics you can essentially hand-pick who you want to broadcast to. Don’t forget to boost the odd post here and there too. If you have something you want heard far and wide- spend a few bucks and get that post seen!

It takes a lot of time, effort and persistence to create a successful Facebook Page with a loyal fan base. Not only is it a lot of work, but Facebook is constantly changing its algorithms to dictate how the platform operates. When operating a business, most business owners and Managers simply don’t have the time to effectively focus on their social media presence. At Cloud9 Marketing we help businesses small and large manage their online image. We understand algorithms, impressions and hashtags but most of all we understand how to get results online through social media, branding, content development, search engine optimization and more. Contact us today!

social-media-goals

You are probably tired of hearing how important social media is for your business. If you are like many you may be wondering how the effort spent on social media actually translates to a return on investment (ROI). It is not uncommon for business owners to delegate social media efforts to front-line staff, or take a stab in the dark themselves, with no notable results. Like any business venture, setting measurable goals is essential for ensuring the hours spent posting and tweeting is time well spent. Setting SMART goals on the most important social media metrics is essential for achieving results. Don’t recall SMART goals from Business101? They are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Below are 5 social media metrics with an example SMART goal for each.

Followers/ Likers

Think of Followers and Likers as your audience. These are potential customers who are interested enough in your brand to tune in to what you say and do. There are two ways to generate followers and likers, organically and through paid advertising. Organic followers are the cream of the crop as these people are genuinely interested in your brand and took their own initiative to follow what you do. Paid advertising is a great way to boost your followers/likers and social media advertising is targeted so you can ensure you are recruiting your target market through these ads.

GOAL: To increase followers/likers organically by 10% between September and December 2015.

If you currently have a following of 500 people a 10% increase would equate to an additional 50 followers. This is easy to measure and a 10% increase should be achievable for most businesses.

Reach

Reach is an important metric when posting on a Facebook Page. Reach is the number of people who saw your post. Don’t confuse reach for impressions. Impressions are the times your post was viewed keeping in mind your post could be viewed multiple times by the same person. Facebook algorithms have changed significantly over the last few years and organic reach is harder to achieve. To get the furthest reach on Facebook you need to pay for advertising. Measuring your paid reach is a good way of assessing how effective your Facebook ad campaign is.

GOAL: To reach 1500 people with Facebook ad XYZ between Sept 1st and Sept 15th 2015

As your ad runs you will be able

social media for branding

As the year starts to wind down, it’s easy to become a little bit nostalgic. A lot has changed in the past few years – surely in your personal life, but in your business, too.

For instance, just think of all of the brand development opportunities that have arisen over the past decade with the advent of social media. Branding for today’s businesses is radically different than it was even just a few years ago.

Taking advantage of these opportunities is a given for today’s leading brands – and for a good reason. Here are just a few ways that social media can help take your branding to the next level.

Become Recognizable

Building a brand is about creating something that your customers and clients can identify easily. Social media can you help you expand your brand’s presence. You can be in front of your customers whenever they’re scrolling through their Twitter feed or checking out Facebook updates (which is virtually all the time) – now that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Create a Consistent Voice

Your brand should be consistent throughout all channels, including social media. As potential and existing clients and customers become accustomed to your social media presence, they’ll come to recognize your voice, building familiarity with your brand.

Connect with Influencers

Use social media to embrace your brand’s biggest fans. Loyal customers are worth their weight in gold: not only can you count on their continued business, you can also expect them to introduce your brand to their own personal networks. With social media, you can build a direct relationship with those influencers, like offering your cheerleaders early access to a sale, a bonus perk with their order or booking, or sneak peeks into upcoming events and releases.

Establish Trust

Social media isn’t just for connecting with your biggest cheerleaders: it’s also for connecting with your future cheerleaders. Through social media, you can really let your brand’s personality shine, building relationships with new fans and earning that coveted brand loyalty.

Be More Than a Brand

Your brand is more than just a name and a logo and social media allows you to showcase that. Through social media, you can build a community that shows what your company is really all about. Customers and clients will gain a better understanding of who you are and what you do.

Share the Brand Love

Customers and clients are engaging brands like never before through social media channels. They’ll post a picture on Instagram showcasing a recent purchase, or will Tweet their praises after a positive customer service experience. Social media – both your own use and your customers’ use – can help others share a brand experience.

On the flipside, customers will take to social media to announce when they’re dissatisfied. Savvy companies will take this opportunity to fix the problem directly with the unsatisfied customer, turning a negative experience into a positive opportunity. People are going to complain whether the company in question is on social media or not – wouldn’t you like to have the chance to hear about the problem so that you can fix it?

Listen, then Strategize

Social media is a two way street – don’t forget to listen! Your customers and clients are constantly providing feedback on your brand through social media. Scan your Facebook page, see what blog posts are getting the most hits, and scour relevant hashtags – and learn something from them. Use your findings to update your brand strategy and to stay connected to your target market.

If you’re thinking about building your brand through social media (or improving your existing social media presence), don’t hesitate to get in touch with Cloud9 Marketing. We’re here to help – this is what we do!

branding and identity

Your brand is essentially the personality of your company. It is what sets your business apart from your competitors’ businesses and presents the characteristics of your goods or services to the world. A brand is made up of a variety of aspects that come together to captivate your customers. Some of these aspects are concrete, material things, but branding also consists of unique ideas that come to fruition in pictures and words. If you are the owner of a small business, branding is about you and what you can offer to the market.

What Is Branding? — How to Get Started

You will need to know a bit of general information about typography and graphic design before you can make good decisions about the pieces that constitute a strong brand. You will not have to become a complete professional in these subjects, but you should certainly engage in some observation and research about them.

Your first step in establishing a business is to come up with a company name and figure out the legalities. Once you have done this, you will need to start making the aspects of your brand image part of your everyday business life. In marketing, this is known as creating a “business identity.” The way you choose to portray your brand to your market audience and connect with your customers is vital. The more consistent you make your business identity, the higher your chances of success will be.

What Is Branding? —Finding the Right Voice

The voice you use when you market your business affects how customers feel about it. Depending on the product you are trying to sell, you might wish to sound serious, sophisticated, or even easygoing. Regardless of which voice you choose, you need to use that same voice in all of the promotional content you create. The way you word your content helps determine where your company falls within its market niche. All of the material you write about your business should do one or more of the following:

  • Distinguish you from other business owners in the same niche
  • Contain a value proposition that tells customers why they should choose your product
  • Consolidate your brand

What Is Branding? — The Concrete Parts

You should work to carry your brand in every form of communication you send to individual customers and the public. All of your business interactions should bear your brand visually, stylistically, and in other ways. The following are examples of material that needs to be marked with your business identity:

  • Emails (include a logo/signature)
  • Traditional “snail” mail (use your own unique stationery)
  • Business cards
  • Portraits/avatars
  • Banners
  • Newsletters
  • Address labels
  • Packaging
  • Product tags
  • Enclosure cards
  • Ads
  • Flyers
  • Blog badges

What Is Branding? — Logos and Portraits

Our own everyday experiences demonstrate just how powerful logos are. For example, we are all aware of the appeal of the Coca-Cola ribbon. As a business owner, your goal is to instantly spark your potential customers’ interest and solidify the way they perceive your company. When you are selling products online and posting to social media sites, your portrait or avatar can be as important as your logo is. These items should coordinate visually with your logo in terms of colour and style. Today, online sellers often use a number of venues. If you keep the visuals on your online venues consistent, customers will more easily remember your business and you will strengthen your brand. You can use books and the Internet to learn more about logos, but you can also look toward real-life examples for inspiration.

What Is Branding? —Using Colour to Bring Success

Different colours represent different emotions and moods. Blue often represents confidence and consistency; red is often associated with provocativeness and enthusiasm. Softer shades of blues, reds, and yellows can bring about feelings of nostalgia and memories of childhood. Clear, vivid colours tend to exude energy, while subtle colours are associated with complexity. It will not be a good idea to change the visual characteristics of your logo after you have introduced your brand into the world of e-commerce, so you will need to choose those characteristics wisely.

Erin Ferree, a brand identity designer, has stated that your colour palette should achieve five things:

  1. Tell the story of your brand through the use of “colour psychology”
  2. Lay the colour palette groundwork for a “visual vocabulary”
  3. Give your logo both light and dark contrast elements
  4. Have enough colours to be eye-catching, but not so many that you incur high printing costs.
  5. Be complementary and aesthetically pleasing.

Fortunately, you can find plenty of good advice about how and why you should select certain typefaces and fonts. Depending on what you choose, you can give your business a traditional, modern, masculine, feminine, or funky vibe. You can take a look at the logos of other companies you admire and soon make excellent progress toward designing your own.

Contact us for more information on how Cloud9 Marketing can help your company with Brand Development.