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3 important things to build your brand

Whether you are a new business looking to make an impression or an established one in need of new ideas, branding can be overwhelming. Its easy to overthink what your brand should look and feel like, since there are many contributing factors. So let’s break down three of the most important things to work on when building your brand.

Logo design 

Creating a singular image that represents the idea of your brand is no simple task. Some companies spend years iterating on their logo, constantly tweaking it as design trends change.

But even through logo redesigns, some of the most successful companies’ logos retain the core imagery through every iteration. Think of companies like Apple, Microsoft and Starbucks. These brands have changed their logos many times over the years without ever abandoning the heart of the design.

Confidence and consistency in a brand’s logo leaves a lasting impression on customers. If you aren’t satisfied with the look and

 feel of you initial logo, rework it right away. It’s better to take your time finding the right design than to end up going through a re-brand later on.

You’ll want your logo to be ready to go as soon as you’re ready to promote your company. It’s a good idea to even work up different variations of you logo that can be used in different types of promotion. Create a full version that consists of both you company name and your imagery, as well as a simpler version that is just your initials and a small image. 

Eventually you will find yourself in need of different color variations of your logo. Because of this, it can be useful to make your brand colors fairly different from each other and to have quite a few colors used in your branding. Having a bright and eye-catching logo color is nice, but when you need to inevitably place your logo onto a flyer or advertisement, it might blend in a bit too much. Having darker colors available in your branding helps to get around this roadblock.

Customer focus

Every business has a target audience. It is important to embrace that audience and build your brand around it. Reaching outside of this audience could risk your ability to build a unique reputation.

Once you thoroughly analyze who would benefit most from your product/service, incorporate their needs into every part of your branding efforts. This goes beyond identifying a specific age or topic of interest. Consider which social platforms your audience tends to use and where the voice of your company fits in best. You want to engage with your customers within their comfort zones.

Thinking of your brand as having a voice of its own will help guide you to the right places to present your company. If you determine that your brand has a light-hearted and fun tone, then social media ads should be your focus. Such platforms allow for tons of creativity and your brand’s tone will shine through greater than on a pre-roll online video ad or anything in print.

Your brand’s personality and values are important outside of just your marketing and advertising. This post highlights how JetBlue Airlines utilizes social media to embrace their passion for their customer experience. The brand is still marketed through traditional means, but JetBlue decided that its brand values are best shown off through customer service interactions on Twitter. 

Build brand identity through content

A strong content marketing plan is a great way to properly support your brand’s values and worth. Creating a brand identity that your customers align with is worth more than money.

The idea is to show customers why you’re a useful brand to engage with. Add value that doesn’t involve needing to pay you. Provide tips for the industry you operate in. And use this to build trust between you and your audience. Studies show that 50% of buyers purchase based on their belief or trust in a brand.

There are numerous ways to go about creating content that builds up your brand identity. Blogs, podcasts, video tutorials and other types of helpful content have proven successful.

Even though your brand identity is built around how your customers might engage with you, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t diversify your content. If your personal brand value comes from video tutorials you put on YouTube, don’t just neglect blogging. In fact, businesses that blog get 67% more leads than those that don’t.

Both forms of content allow you to show your value to customers. You can even cross over topics by creating blogs that are essentially written versions of your videos.

All of these efforts will help increase your brand awareness, so be sure to stay consistent. Set goals for your blog posting frequency. Share your content on social media and promote it in newsletters.

Take pride in your content and preach it everywhere you can. The goal is to build trust, not just views. But people need to know that you’re making content. It’s not going to show up on page 1 of Google search right away.

Podcasting: It’s simple and important for businesses

The idea of starting up a podcast can be understandably intimidating. You might already have a video strategy in place, but the podcasting world is still foreign to you. Well, it's easier than it looks and it is absolutely more useful than you might think. 

Podcasts have seen rapid growth in listenership over the last 10 years. Recent stats show that there are over 750,000 podcast programs available and over 50% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast. That is 144 million listeners, many of which are loyally dedicated to their shows of choice. 80% of listeners finish each episode they listen to and come back for more.

So let's run through the process of getting your podcast planned, recorded and uploaded for the world to hear.

Plan out your podcast

A business’ podcast needs to have a planned approach. There are plenty of podcasts out there in which the hosts casually chat and naturally find discussion topics. These can be great, but the audience you’re looking for needs structure and confidence in your discussion.

Your topic should be something specific enough to compete with other podcasters in your industry. As a business, you want your program to be an educational tool for prospective customers. Build a dedicated listenership by standing out and being the go-to product for a specific area of business. You can always expand your topics in later episodes to grow your audience.

The name of your podcast should be fairly straight forward. You want audiences to know its coming from your business. In the end, the goal is to drive listeners to become customers of your business. And if the podcast’s name is more recognizable than your business’, it needs to be rebranded.

Choose the hosts

Podcasts have found success in having both regular and rotating hosts. If your desired hosting crew isn’t always going to be available, start by having at least one regular host. This can be the lead host that guides each week’s guests through the discussion topics. 

Eventually, one of the recurring guests can take over the lead host’s role in some episodes, freeing everyone up to  join when they can.

Though there are many successful podcasts with only one host, this can be tough for new podcasters. Conversation will flow more naturally with at least two people, and audiences enjoy hearing more than one voice.

Stick to a format

While there isn’t a magic number for podcast length, you need to consistently hit your desired length. 22% of listeners tune in while driving, which is important to consider when planning to have a 10 minute or 60 minute show. So long as you're being consistent, listeners will stick around. No one wants to plan to leave on a 60 minute show during their commute, only to have to find a new show when yours ends 30 minutes early.

Frequency is another consideration to make. Most podcasts are weekly, so we’ll operate on that assumption. But you can also run a monthly, or bi-weekly show. Again, consistency is key.

With each week’s discussion varying, you’ll need to plan segments for each episode. After recording a few episodes, you should be able to predict how long each segment will run and plan around that. 

You don’t want your hosts to feel rushed, but the lead host can pose questions to the others in a way that encourages quick answers when necessary. If you feel like your main topic is going to run long in an episode, plan to cut out the listener mail segment. 

What you don’t want to do is to verbally call attention to a segment running long and telling your guest hosts that you need to skip something. If the guest hosts are new to podcasting, they might get stressed about making sure they’re following the structure.It is the lead host’s job to make others feel comfortable speaking.

Necessary podcast equipment

A common misconception about podcasting is that high-end equipment is necessary. Essentially, all you need is a computer with recording software and at least one or two microphones. 

The most commonly used software is garage band, which you likely have available to you since it comes installed on every Mac computer. This will allow you to easily monitor audio levels and edit the final product. 

There are more advanced programs like Adobe Audition, but luckily, podcasting doesn’t require much technical work beyond recording, saving and uploading.

As far as recording goes, better equipment will result in a cleaner product, but expensive mics aren’t required. Plugging in headphones with a microphone into a phone will work, but the sound quality won’t be great and you won’t be able to balance each host’s volume levels. So plan to eventually get a separate mic for each person.

Uploading your podcast

There are a couple quick steps to take before your show will appear in front of audiences. 

First, you’ll want to have attractive artwork that conveys your topic and business name to users browsing podcast apps. Keep your artwork on brand with your marketing.

Next, you will need to host your show as an rss feed on website. This can be done with your own wordpress page, or podcast hosting sites out there that charge a minor fee. The rss feed is the crucial aspect of getting your show on big podcast directories like iTunes and Spotify.

You will need at least one episode of your show published and available on your rss feed to get approved for iTunes. Speaking of getting approved, follow these requirements by Apple, and your feed should be set for approval on all major apps that you want to live on.

grow your Charleston business

4 Strategies to Grow your Charleston Business

Starting up and maintaining a business in the region can be tough. Trying to grow your Charleston Business can be even tougher. From rising real estate costs to the low usage of public transportation, getting customers into your establishment is a challenge.

Combining digital marketing with a physical presence is important for growing a business in a competitive market. So here are 4 areas where you should be putting your focus in order to expand your reach and become a part of the community.

1. Build your SEO and SEM strategy around your business’ strengths and community needs

Knowing what your key terms and topics are is important when building out a plan for search optimization and marketing online. Key terms that address your clients needs should always be a part of your SEO strategy. But having the right plan for paid search (SEM) is beneficial when you are pushing for faster growth. 

Start by identifying the keywords that prospective customers are searching to find services like yours. Consider what people want most from you and identify a group of keywords that encompass all of the branches of business you specialize in.

You can create an SEM strategy that schedules out a rotation of keywords to identify the best keywords for conversion. This way, you are experimenting with focused groups as opposed to attempting to use generic keywords. You can target specific buyers each month, and then use the analytics to adapt your targeting efforts over time. 

2. Analyze your customer behavior to create client retention over time

Any business can tack on a customer loyalty program with relative ease. But without leveraging customer analytics, your loyalty program might fail. Show your customers that you know what they want and build a program around their habits.

The important thing to ensure here is that you are translating customer insights into your program. Look at how customers engage with all of your services. Are they often buying two specific services together? How long does it typically take until they need your services again? Simply being a member of a loyalty program typically leads customers to spend up to 18% more.

One strategy would be to consider what your customer has already purchased, then determine what they might want to buy next and market that product through email or re-targeting. You can reward customers for returning to you through bundles and special offers. Every part of your loyalty program should be planned around what customers buy and how often they buy it.

3. Connect your business with customers

Communication is the most important aspect of any relationship, professional or otherwise. So keeping an open line of communication with your customers is a great way to maintain a strong relationship, reduce churn, and grow you Charleston business. 48% of consumers say that they are more likely to make a purchase when a company is active on social media.

Utilizing social media for customer interaction goes deeper than just making regular posts, though. Give your business an online personality that users connect with and can relate to and respond quickly to client inquiries. 

The goal is to have a conversation with your audience. Not only will this make customers feel appreciated, but it will also help you appear in front of more people. Facebook algorithms boost posts that have interaction. So answer customer questions and ask for feedback. Make sure that everything you post leaves the door open for some form of interaction. 

4. Join networking events and trade shows

The Charleston business community faces a number of challenges. An excellent way to grow your Charleston business is to build your connections. Meet with other business leaders and collaborate on ways to solve Charleston’s economic challenges. 

The Post and Courier’s Inside Business Live is one such gathering, in which business professionals and expert panelists gather to create a dialogue around various topics affecting Charleston businesses. Show that your business cares about local topics or issues in education, real estate, transportation and more.

The event is held quarterly and is a good way to get your business started with networking events. Putting a face to your company among community peers can lead to a number of useful things. Networking is a great way to establish strategic partnerships or sponsorships. Even meeting people in other industries can be rewarding for your business.

Vlog

Making a Vlog Series: Just Do It

Vlog Series for Content Marketing

Rather than serving as a trendy bonus component of a company’s digital presence, it’s become a necessity for brands to incorporate video into their content marketing strategy. Because 65% of people are more likely to retain information that they see, video is a strong solution for helping businesses quickly establish thought leadership in the digital age.  After all, it’s anticipated that video will account for 80% of all internet traffic in 2019.

The video marketing industry currently has a $135 billion value and there’s no better time than now to claim your piece of it.

What’s the first step?

Three words: Vlog It Up. Otherwise known as a “video blog”, a vlog or video blog is an excellent way to show your customers how and why they should use your product or services. Use a more down-to-earth approach. Take a step back from hard advertising methods that interrupt users and think about fitting in to their experience more naturally. Create a more personal relationship with your customers so they develop a desire for your brand. You can integrate vlogs into your website, social media pages, email campaigns – you name it. It’s a great way to frame and distribute valuable content to internet users.

Why start now?

The future of marketing is visual.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Therefore, the best time to share your video content is now. Even by simply knowing what a vlog is and the benefits it brings your customers, you’re already showcasing your business as one that’s focused on the future of communication.

Quickly establish your business as a thought leader in your respective industry.

You are telling people about your company, and even more, you’re showing them what exactly you do. 42% of consumers say that video is their preferred way of learning about a product or service. You have the ability to share your knowledge in creative, meaningful ways through how-tos, simple branding videos, and more. For example, the real estate industry is certainly seeing the benefits of vlogging. 44% of homebuyers end up purchasing a property they found through a real estate video.

Gain the ability to reach unlimited share potential.

With the help of easy access social media share buttons and more sharing platforms than ever, videos have the potential to go viral quickly. 92% of users share online videos with their personal and professional networks. Therefore, if you have content worth sharing, prepare for a significant increase in overall following and brand awareness as a result of your vlog campaign.

Add face value to your growing business.

Let people see and hear from the experts themselves. Above all, vlogging creates a trustworthy personal relationship within a business relationship. People are more likely to work with a business that they feel personally tied to and trust as opposed to one that appears to only care about the business transaction. The healthcare industry specifically relies heavily on video to connect with their customers on a more personal level. It’s an excellent way to provide custom answers to important questions such as common procedure specifics, protective measures to combat flu season, and vaccination preparation.

Not sure where to start with topic selection? Here are our suggestions:

Customer testimonials

Company introduction

Team introduction

New product or service announcement

Q&A sessions

Trending topics in your specific industry

 

We want to help you see what vlogging can do for your business. Contact us to get started!

 

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Minimally Adequate Event Series

Throughout the month of January, the Post and Courier is hosting a series of panel discussions inspired by Minimally Adequate, a published series of stories focused on the challenges facing South Carolina’s public school system. Bringing together educators and legislators from throughout the state, the events’ discussions will shine a light on the critical issues that reporters found during their eight-month investigation. The stories came from a team of five reporters, two of which opened up in a Q&A to share their thoughts on the series. Reporters Jennifer Berry-Hawes and Thad Moore explain Minimally Adequate and its impact on the state of South Carolina.
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