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strong-brand

Does your company exhibit signs of a strong brand? Besides being easily recognized by current and potential clients, a brand provides employees with direction, communicates values and purpose, and represents the sum of perceptions about a company. Branding goes far beyond logos and imagery and goes deep into a business’s identity, and how it wants to be perceived and experienced by people internal and external to an organization. Creating and maintaining a powerful brand is an art, and these seven signs of a strong brand are excellent indicators if you are on the right path.

  1. Purpose

Knowing your why will help define your purpose and be the core value of your business, a nucleus for everything else that’s created afterwards. Your purpose will help you stand out from competition and be a point of differentiation compared to other businesses in your market. Knowing your business’s why will help establish intent and make way for more functional goals such as the need to make money and the desire to provide the best service in your industry.

  1. Consistency

Consistency is important as it leads to brand recognition which is what all brands hope to achieve. Ensuring all communications are cohesive and relevant to the brand’s purpose will ensure consistency across all messaging both internal within the company, and external to potential customers, suppliers and competition. Consistency must be achieved by way of action (this forms part of the corporate culture), appearance and messaging. To address the visual aspect of brand consistency many businesses have style guides for reference and clarity.

  1. Emotion

By working with a customer’s innate desire to belong and be part of something, businesses can build a tribe of loyal followers who are emotionally tied to a brand. By connecting with your customers on a deeper and more emotional level you will strengthen your relationship, appeal to their emotions and increase brand loyalty.

  1. Flexibility

Although consistency is a core aspect of a powerful brand, flexibility will help brands stay relevant in today’s fast paced business world. To distinguish the two, consistency must be maintained at a high level, ensuring imagery, messaging and culture remain stable. Flexibility is important when it comes to executing campaigns, dealing with changing workforce dynamics and staying on top of industry changes.

  1. Internal Engagement

Employees are the face of any company and therefor need to be the most cherished brand ambassadors that you have. Ensuring employees are living and breathing the company’s brand, are signed up for the corporate culture and are aligned with the company’s purpose, will help create consistency across all areas of the organization.

  1. Loyalty

Loyalty is what keeps the business flowing and converts a one-time customer into a life long brand ambassador. Reward loyal customers and be sure to make them feel like they are part of something special. The cost to obtain a new customer is significantly more then retaining a current customer, encourage brand loyalty by showing your customers sincere appreciation.

  1. External Awareness

No business operates in a silo and having your finger on the pulse of your external environment, including your competition, will help strengthen your brand strategy and identity. Take a close look at your competitors and find out what they are doing well and not so well, can you improve on anything they are doing or learn from their mistakes? Anticipate market trends and ensure your brand is staying flexible amidst changing environments.

Not sure if your brand passes the test? Let us help you. Specializing in brand development and strategy Cloud9 Marketing can help your business achieve a brand that ticks all of the boxes.

delegate-marketing

We are a marketing agency, so of course we’re going to tell you that marketing your business is important. Unless you are offering the world’s most fantastic product or service, have no competition whatsoever and don’t care to improve performance or profits, marketing should be a priority. But as a business owner you may not have the skills, knowledge or know-how (or interest) to execute marketing strategies that work. It is important to understand when it is time to delegate any aspect of your business for the overall good, and marketing is usually one of the first areas to be handed over to professionals. Not sure if it’s time you left your business’s marketing to the pros? Here’s are some signs.

  1. Your Facebook Business Page Header hasn’t been updated all year

If your Facebook Business Page headers hasn’t been updated in months, if it contains pixelated or cropped images, or is some cheesy stock photo that doesn’t represent your business or brand, it’s a sign you are not using Facebook to its fullest potential. All of this is assuming you have a Facebook Business Page, and if you don’t, stop reading right now and hand over the marketing reigns to a professional this second. Facebook is an excellent portal for potential customers to get to know your brand, and your Facebook header is an opportunity to let them know what is new and exciting with your company, or to explore what it is that you stand for.

  1. Your last Blog Post was in 2011

If you can get past how silly the word ‘Blog’ sounds and get to the underlying function of a Blog, you will see the importance of it and hopefully stop neglecting this crucial part of your website. A Blog is a way to introduce fresh content to your website; search engines like this. Blogging about topics, products and industry news and events can help your business or brand gain authority, can provide value to your customers, and will provide you with more opportunities to be found on search engines. Don’t be that business that blogs once a year and then gives up. A regular and engaging Blog is an important part of every businesses content marketing strategy.

  1. You don’t have an Instagram Account

We know that the world of social media can be overwhelming, and that it’s hard to stay on the bleeding edge of every new social channel and update online. Instagram is now mainstream, and if your business is not using it yet, you are getting well left behind. We can’t think of too many businesses that wouldn’t benefit from an Instagram account. The visually appealing content is a great tool for story-telling and building brand awareness, and is the place to reach the millennial demographic. We get it if you’re scared of adopting new social channels into the mix, let us do it for you.

  1. Your website doesn’t display on mobile phones

Have you recently had someone tell you that your website doesn’t display well on mobile phones? Check yours right now, is it clear and easy to navigate from your mobile? If the answer is no, your website is not responsive, and you are potentially missing out on over half of web visitors because of this flaw. Mobile browsing minutes accounted for 70 percent of all browsing minutes in 2016. Websites should now be designed mobile-first, meaning appealing to mobile users before desktop users because mobile devices are what people are using to browse and buy online these days.

  1. You have no idea what SEO stands for

Do the acronyms SEO, SEM and SMM baffle your mind? If you don’t know what the all-important SEO stands for, it’s time for you to step aside and let the professionals handle your marketing. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Essentially it is how people find your business online (for an in-depth explanation, see here). This is such an important thing for the success and longevity of your business we cannot even begin to explain. Without SEO you do not exist to pretty much everyone on the internet. Period.

  1. You rather do just about everything else but work on your marketing

If you’re not jumping out of bed jazzed about marketing, you likely aren’t giving it the energy and attention that it requires. And why should you? You are running a business and probably have a lot on your plate. A good business owner knows when it’s time to part ways with different aspects of the business. If taking your dog out for a pee in the morning is more exciting than checking your web analytics, it’s time to delegate to an agency.

Lucky for you there are people that dream about digital design, study social media engagement and obsess about SEO. Here at Cloud9 Marketing we get our kicks from helping business like yours kill it online with tailored results-driven marketing strategies that get noticed. Can we help take your businesses marketing efforts to the next level? Schedule a one-hour free consultation and let’s chat.

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!

 

Video Mistakes You Might Be Making

It’s no secret that videos are trendier than ever. From hilarious cat videos, to live news on your smart phone, our society is in love with videos. Embracing film as part of your marketing strategy can drastically improve your reach. We are all for video content because we know how powerful it is, when it’s done right that is. Whether you are gearing up to incorporate video into your marketing strategy or already have it implemented, these considerations for a successful video are key.

Concept

Whatever your concept is, make it clear in the first 8 seconds. The first couple of seconds are when the viewer decides if it is appealing or not. This is your do or die window for their attention. Reflect on what audience you are trying to reach and what you are trying to say about your brand, this is your time to shine.

Overselling

Finding the balance between being clear about your product or idea and drowning people in it can be tricky. The goal with any video is to make a lasting impression and call the viewer to action. You want them to remember your brand, and dig a little deeper on their own free will. It’s about creating engagement from the viewer. Rather than spill all the beans, lead them on with excitement and have all the info they’ll be craving ready in another video, or written on your website and point them in that direction.

Feedback

Everyone needs more feedback. Ask strangers in your target audience what they think about your video. Outside sources are best for feedback as your team, family and friends will have a bias.

Call to Action

As mentioned in overselling, each video needs to call the viewer to some kind of action. The call can be just to create curiosity, generate a referral, get a free quote, how to use your product and so on. Maybe all you are trying to do is get them to like your Facebook page, whatever it is, make sure it is clear in your objectives before and after the video is created.

Boring

A few things can make a video boring. If it is too long, it’s boring. If the concept isn’t portrayed in an engaging way, it is boring. If the people in the video are, well boring, it is of course going to be a boring film. Spending a couple of extra bucks to hire someone to film and act in your video could make all the difference. This is something you’ll need to weigh out for yourself, but if you were planning on using Larry, the monotone receptionist as your lead star, maybe rethink that one.

Placement

Now that you’ve created your perfect video, don’t let it go to waste! Placement on your website should be front and center. On YouTube it should be on your own channel which will eventually have more videos to fill the auto play, this will keep your target audience much more excited about your company as there is even more material for them to view. Be sure to cross post on other outlets like Vimeo and Facebook. If you choose to do paid advertisement with your video choose the sites that will appeal to the right demographic, and again watch placement of where your video will be on each page that you are paying for.

We can’t say this will make video-making fool proof, but it is a step in the right direction. When creating or perfecting your video content keep these helpful hints in mind. If you are interested in video marketing but don’t know where to start, check out Cloud9’s video production & marketing services.

Whistler Email Marketing

 

If you’re like most people, you probably receive email newsletters from time to time.

Some, you love: as soon as a good one lands in your inbox, you open it up and start clicking away at what’s inside.

Others, you could take or leave: you might keep one of these in your inbox, saving it to read for a later time, like when you’re waiting for the bus to arrive.

And then there are the ones that you delete immediately upon receipt, not even bothering to see what’s inside.

We’re going to go out on a limb here and guess that you want your newsletters to appear in the first category. Here are 8 tips that will make your newsletters shine.

Target, Target, Target

The first step to a killer newsletter is making sure that the people receiving it actually want to read it.

Your readers should see value in what you send out. If they do, they’ll engage with the content and will be thrilled to keep receiving updates. If they don’t, they’ll unsubscribe, missing out on future newsletters and emails that they might have found interesting and useful.

Curating your list of recipients can be a mind-numbing task, but categorizing your contacts means that you can control who receives what. Targeted content will keep your contacts happy.

Content is King

No matter how you organize your information or how nicely you design your newsletters, nothing will help you if your content is a snore.

Why are you sending out this newsletter? Do you have important news to share? Are you offering your readers a reward or a deal? Are you launching a new product? Don’t send newsletters for the sake of sending newsletters: instead, send them to share valuable content.

An Eye-Catching Title

Coming up with the perfect subject line can be tricky. You want your subject to entice people to open up the email, and you want it to describe what kind of content is inside. The shorter, the better: many mobile screens only display the first 30 characters in a subject line (including spaces).

Short is Sweet

Resist the urge to send a novel-length newsletter. No matter how compelling your content, most recipients will get bored partway and will skip out before reaching the end. Keep your content short and punchy, and provide a link for readers to click if they want to find out more about a particular topic.

Stick to Your Brand

Every aspect of your newsletter – from tone to design – should reflect your brand.

Newsletters are an extension of your brand, so be consistent and use this opportunity to showcase your stuff. Make sure that your logo, contact details, website, and social media links are included.

Mind Your Grammar

Double and triple check the content of your newsletter for spelling and/or grammatical errors. If English was never your forte, find someone who can edit your content. Careless mistakes reflect poorly on you and your business.

Pictures: A Fine Balance

On the one hand, visual content is good: photos can convey a ton of information, and they make a newsletter look good. On the other hand, too many photos will clog up your newsletter. Emails that load slowly and that hog inbox space are major no-nos. Use some pictures, but be aware of their sizes.

Be Mobile Friendly

Your newsletter might look spiffy on your computer screen, but make sure it looks good from a mobile screen, too. After all, that’s where many of your readers will be opening it up. If they have to scroll horizontally or if formatting becomes a jumbles mess, your email will be sent straight to the trash folder.

Need help crafting the perfect newsletter? Get in touch – we’ll help you create a killer newsletter.

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.

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