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Category Archives: brand development

Lessons B2C and B2B Companies Can Learn from Smart Brands

smart brands

In February of this year, I met with 35 brand certified peers. During our time together, we shared some of our favorite brands and talked about why those brands stood out to us.

My favorite brand was Disney because of its family-oriented focus. It’s about making people happy: its stories have happy endings and its service model creates extraordinary experiences. The brand has been consistent since brothers Walt and Roy founded the company in 1929.

Some of the group’s favorite brands included Adidas, Tom’s Shoes, Nike, BMW, Sephora, Trader Joe’s, LL Bean, Marshall’s|TJ Maxx, Red Bull, Vitamix, Guinness, Always, Tesla, Google, Apple, Lyft, US Marines, and Southwest Airlines. In listening to the stories of why these smart brands stood out and why they rose to the top of our minds, some similarities began to surface. There are some lessons to be learned from these smart brands for both consumer-oriented companies and business-to-business brands.

Lesson #1 – Have a strong commitment and understanding of why your business exists and how it contributes to the betterment of your target audience and/or the world.

Lesson #2 – Altruism can be a business driver. Stand for something greater than your products or services. Pay it forward.

Lesson #3 – Create an internal environment that is inclusive and where people feel empowered. Make employees your #1 brand ambassadors.

Lesson #4 – Make sure your company’s brand strategy and business strategy are aligned.

Lesson #5 – Create a consistent customer experience at all touch points — online, on the phone, in person.

Lesson #6 – Establish standards when involving third-party resellers in representing your company’s brand.

Lesson #7 – Stand behind your target customers, enrich their world and empower them to achieve their best.

Lesson #8 – Reinvent your product and service offering to continue to deliver upon your commitment to your customers.

Lesson #9 – Provide meaningful experiences that remain in the heart of your customers for life.

Lesson #10 – Really understand who your customers are and embrace what is important to them.

Lesson # 11 – Walk the walk and live and treat others in a manner that is consistent with your brand. Empower employees to do the same.

Lesson #12 – Stand behind the products and services you offer with a guarantee, knowledgeable employees and quality service.

Think about how you can apply some of the lessons above to strengthen your company’s brand to become the preferred brand amongst your target market.

Need help with your brand development? We can help! Contact us today to develop a brand that will ignite your business — guaranteed.

 

10 Tips for an Effective Marketing Booth

You signed up to have a marketing booth at a trade show, networking event or festival. Now what? What can you do to generate new business leads or meet potential new talent? You have to be strategic, plan ahead and bring your marketing A-game!

Successful Marketing Booth Ideas

Here are ten tips that will help you draw more traffic to your marketing booth, engage with more event attendees, and generate sales leads.

  1. Before the event, send an email and/or direct mail piece to prospects that may attend the event. Let them know where your booth will be located and what benefits they will receive from visiting you.
  2. Design a professional, attractive booth that catches the attention of passersby.
  3. Make information easy to find and digest. Add professional banners, posters or an informational wall structure to help people understand who you are and what you do — even if they don’t talk to you. Engaging or interactive technology elements such as a video are a bonus!
  4. Be helpful or entertaining. A fun game, massage chairs, interactive technology and raffles for big-ticket items will help draw traffic to your booth and increase awareness of your presence.
  5. Don’t give too much away for free. Instead, collect visitor information in exchange for your big attraction. Have an information card or a form on an iPad that they can complete. Use this information to follow up with visitors after the event.
  6. Be sure you have company literature and information available that you can pass out to visitors who are interested in your product or service.
  7. Make sure your employees aren’t standing behind your booth the whole time. They should be out in front, engaging with visitors and passersby. Also, make sure each worker has their business cards handy.
  8. Give away promotional items that people can use on a daily basis, such as pens, sticky notes or calendars. This will serve as a constant reminder and keep your company top-of-mind.
  9. Have at least two people run the booth in case one person needs to step away periodically. A third person can stop by the other booths for additional networking.
  10. To further increase company awareness at the event, be an event sponsor. Depending on your sponsorship level, you can have your company logo included in ads for the event, on event banners, in the event program, mentioned in promotional emails and/or mentioned on stage.

Need professional assistance with your trade show or marketing booth? Contact the GREENCREST experts!

 

Taking Control of the Customer Experience

 

taking control of the customer experience

Did you know that 80 percent of companies say they deliver great service, but only 8 percent of their customers agree? Whoa! That is a big gap. Customer service and customer experience should be the No. 1 thing on CEOs’ minds. Eighty-nine percent of marketers believe that they will be competing on customer experience by the end of 2017.

Here is the reality… Customer satisfaction is not driven by the customer service that companies say they deliver. How customers feel about their interaction with a company reveals the authenticity of great service.

The truth is, it is easier to be average today and harder to be exceptional. How is your company creating memorable moments that customers share openly within their circles of influence? What drives your customers’ experience? The journey begins by understanding your company’s aspirational anchor. This is followed by knowing what is valuable to the markets you serve. Understanding that value begins with having an intimate understanding of your customers’ world and what is important to them.

Aspirational Anchor

What is the commitment the company aspires to fulfill? For example: Does your company strive for there-for-you service, 24/7/365 accessibility, 100 percent system reliability, on time—every time performance, reduction of energy costs by 50 percent, 25 percent greater production efficiency, etc? This aspiration must be embraced companywide and supported by the board, owners and other influencers who will earmark investments to drive the customer experience. When you start with a solid commitment, you can stop reacting to the market and start shaping it.

Customer Personas

Most companies have a mix of customers. Some may be defined by industry segment, some by size, some by geographic location, others by direct, end-user and distributors.  Whatever the case, creating personas of these various customer segments gets you closer to understanding the environments, needs, obstacles, decision-making drivers and desires of each one. Create a visual understanding or humanize each customer-type to immerse yourself in your customers’ world and allow your team to get a clear picture in their minds to better understand how the company can make a positive impact and experience.

 Customer Journey Mapping

Once you intimately understand your customers and their environments, you can begin to map out the customers’ buying journey — and it will be remarkably different for some of your customer segments. What is important to them? What are they concerned about? How do they discover new solutions? What information do they seek? Who else do they involve in the decision-making process? You need to figure out how you can be with them throughout the journey. Pre-existing problem, during the discovery phase, as they research solutions, as they narrow down potential offerings, as they present options to others involved in decision-making, during the close, post purchase and so on.

It takes work to rally true believers. By addressing the core needs of your customers who are likely being overlooked by everyone else, you can create raving fans. The first step is yours to take.  Make sure your company can compete on customer experience.

 

Brand Heroes That Dominate – Creating a Brand That is Memorable

woman_on_laptop

Every company dreams of making a difference in the lives of its customers. An unforgettable company inspires, motivates and connects with its customers. These companies are the brand heroes that dominate the market.

 

While it takes time to develop an unforgettable brand, these strategies will help you start the process of transforming your company into a beloved brand:

Champion a Cause

While attending a recent meeting of brand certified specialists, I was introduced to LifeProfit founder, Dustin Garis. Our discussion centered about brands that are transforming their marketing messages — better, faster, less cost — to messages about social changes that relate to the brand, with no brand benefits mentioned.

Always menstrual pads, for example, became a brand hero in its #LikeAGirl campaign. Its message centered around changing public perception of the saying ‘you run like a girl.’ Always rallied against the societal stereotype by promoting strong young girls who run fast and hard — the same as boys. As a result, the Always brand has become a hero that stands up for young girls and promotes the strength of women. That’s a great cause to root for!

Innovate Around the Human Experience

This concept revolves around Garis’ passion behind his company, LifeProfit. The human experience is especially important to companies that sell to a younger customer base, given that 72 percent of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences instead of material objects, according to a 2014 Harris Group study.

An example Garis refers to in his TEDx Talk is how Zappos, a major shoe retailer, tapped into the human experience and became an unforgettable company for him. Garis called the company to inquire about a pair running shoes. Instead of trying to sell him the shoes, the salesperson told him to try them out at a mud run near his town and signed him up for the run. Garis took her up on the offer and in doing so, gained “life profit,” thus experiencing a human moment he will never forget.

Be Memorable

Hearing something 1,000 times is less impactful than experiencing it once. You might recall the recent McDonald®’s ‘Pay with Lovin’ campaign where customers were rewarded with a free meal in exchange for calling a family member and saying ‘I love you.’ Or how Coke®’s new campaign, ‘Share a Coke® and a Song’ personalized its products for consumers by adding famous song lyrics on their bottles this past summer—i.e. “Lean on Me,” and “We are the champions.” Or the Expedia ‘Trip-A-Day Giveaway’ where consumers who downloaded its new app were entered into a sweepstakes drawing to win a trip a day. The company also capitalized on the opportunity to survey participants on their spontaneity as it relates to finding and booking last minute travel.

 

The most memorable part of Garis’ message, and one that hits home with us all, is how mundane life becomes if all we do is look forward to the weekend week-in and week-out, spend endless nights watching television and only change our routine a couple of times a year when we take a vacation break. Life profit, as Garis describes it, is not in the number of days you live, but in the number of days you remember. As a business and a brand, we have a unique opportunity to make a memorable and meaningful experience for our customers.

Contact the GREENCREST team to discuss how we can help you create marketing, advertising, and social media content that will be memorable to your customers!

 

Engaging employees to live the brand

brand team

The Chief Marketing Officers Council and Executive Networks Inc. collaborated in 2015 to produce a report titled, “Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space.” The report explored ways in which marketing and human resource leaders could engage employees to bring a company’s values, ethics, commitments and qualities to life within the organization.

What I loved about the report is that it explored social media platforms being used by leading consumer brands to retain and recruit, build customer-centric cultures, recognize and reward innovation and output, and drive productivity, performance and motivation by “gamifying” the workplace.

Start the conversation

According to the report, areas of conversation included such questions as:

  • Does your company have a formal brand platform with shared values, ethics and collective buy-in?
  • How important is your brand persona to employee recruitment and customer gratification?
  • What value does management place on organizational branding and employee engagement?
  • Do you have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization? If so, how has this been achieved? If not, what is lacking?
  • How well do your employees reinforce and deliver on brand promises and claims
  • How are you encouraging, rewarding, measuring and amplifying this?
  • To what degree is your brand personality reflected in your people and workplace?
  • In what ways are you engaging, motivating and recognizing employees to underscore brand qualities?
  • How are work styles changing and what are you doing to adjust to the millennial mindset?
  • Which platforms, methodologies, mobile applications or protocols are you using to do this?
  • Which business events, milestones or commitments require active employee participation and partner support?
  • How does your organization use social media, and how are employees and partners contributing to this?

These questions are a good starting point for assessing where your organization stands and may provide some insight to ways you could better align the company’s brand clues within your organization.

Finding the disconnect

Here are some of the report’s findings, as gleaned from the executive summary.

Nearly 70 percent of marketing and human resource leaders believe their management teams are strongly committed to their company’s image, identify, culture and collective ethos, as well as shared values and employee participation in organizational branding. Yet, just 37 percent say they have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization.

Brand persona is seen by almost 90 percent as essential, very or moderately important to attracting new hires and building a lasting relationship with customers. Only 62 percent, however, reported having a formal brand platform that defines shared values, ethics and collective buy-in to a singular value proposition.

Leaders first

In order for marketing and human resources to succeed in making the workplace a brand-defining space, a company must first uncover its brand. This is a top-down, CEO-driven initiative with the company’s leadership team as the main brand ambassadors.

The leadership must first embrace the value of the brand and its impact on the company’s future growth, customer loyalty and employee satisfaction, as well as its ability to drive greater profitability and competitive advantage.

From this foundation, a brand that is enculturated into an organization is a game-changing, transformational market advantage.

From Smart Business

Six Ways to Lead with Strategy

 

Business Strategy

 

Strategy is a game changer. It is what separates the players from the industry leaders. If you want to change the game and take the lead, here are six important keys to success.

Competitive Strategy Centers on Brand 

It is the unique differentiation your business offers to the marketplace. Brand is a statement of why the business matters and the gaping hole that would emerge if your company did not exist. It is the passion that drives the organization forward. Is your business making the world a better place or transforming your industry? Make sure your company matters. Without a brand, it is impossible to achieve or sustain the position as the market-share leader.

People Strategy Dictates Company Culture

Culture is a part of your brand. If your people aren’t delivering your brand promise to the marketplace at every presale, sale and postsale touchpoint, then your brand does not have a leg to stand on. It is meaningless and will work against you if customers are experiencing less than what they expect or their experience is not consistent as their engagement with your organization progresses. A strong company culture values its people and provides the support, training and management structure to assure employees can succeed in delivering on the company’s promise.

Marketing Strategy Paves the Way

Marketing strategy paves the way for the organization to grow, build a reputation, become known and understood.  A solid marketing strategy starts with a crystal-clear vision of the company’s goals and what activity needs to happen to make those numbers a reality. A marketing strategy encompasses the bigger three- to five-year vision for what the company needs to do to be the market leader. By looking at the longer term, a marketing strategy addresses the necessary posturing and planning needed to lead the company to its next level of growth. A marketing strategy is not developed in a vacuum: It takes the effort of the entire leadership team to make sure the enterprise is charted in the right direction.

Sales Strategy Kicks into High Gear

With a clear marketing vision, a company’s sales strategy can kick into high gear. It starts with understanding how many new relationships will drive company growth and what industries or product segments are targets for growth. Establishing a strategy for targeting prospects and driving leads is complex in today’s online, voicemail and mobile world, yet we know that products and services are being consumed at unprecedented levels. Are you getting your share of the action?  Having a plan to respond to leads is an equally important strategy in a company achieving its sales goals.

Customer-Retention Strategy Focuses on Service 

If you have a strong company brand and culture, you probably already focus on excelling at customer service. If you knew that 80 percent of your customers were at risk every year, would that motivate you to develop a stronger customer-retention strategy?  Most companies’ customers are merely satisfied with the service they are receiving from their supplier partners. That means that they are willing to look at other options in the market.  It is when you exceed expectations that they become loyal customers and unlikely to consider anyone else. Having a strong marketing strategy to grow the business is meaningless if your customer attrition rate is too high. You work hard and spend a lot to attract new business. Strategize to keep them by exceeding expectations.

Implementation Strategy Determines Success

Good planning and strategy deserves to be implemented — with gusto! Any other implementation strategy will affect results. That does not mean that you can’t walk before you run, but too often, companies handicap their organizations by underfunding implementation (you know who you are). It is like having a shiny new Ferrari in your garage but you never gas it up to drive it. You need to be committed and focused to stay on track and hit the established milestones.

Need help developing and implementing your strategy? Contact the marketing strategy experts at GREENCREST.

From Smart Business

Build Your Brand Workshop® comes to Columbus

 

Brand Workshop

COLUMBUS, OH, [Nov. 13, 2015] – Business owners who want to uncover their company’s brand and discover the secrets to developing their competitive advantage can gain that advantage in the Build Your Brand Workshop® sessions taught by Kelly Borth, the only Certified Brand Strategist in central Ohio.

The next Build Your Brand Workshop® will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 2 at GREENCREST, 120 Northwoods Blvd., Columbus. The workshops cost $347. More information and online registration is available at www.greencrest.com/workshops.

In this three-hour workshop, led by Borth, the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, participants will learn what a “brand” really is, how it can increase a company’s profitability, as well as the secrets to defining competitive advantage. GREENCREST is the only Certified Brand Agency in central Ohio and one of only 35 in North America, and Borth is one of only five certified brand strategists in North America offering the Build Your Brand® workshop.

“There is much confusion in the marketplace about what ‘brand’ really is,” Borth said. “In order to differentiate, you must stand out from the clutter. You need to be able to articulate what you have to offer the marketplace, know why it matters and why someone should choose your company. Defining the brand and making it the company’s
primary focus helps clarify for employees what is brand behavior and what is not.”

During this workshop, attendees have the opportunity to discuss their brand and business challenges with Borth.

“Kelly helped me realize that having a Brand is just the start of branding your company,” said Joe Williams, director of business development at Kirk Williams Co., a mechanical contractor. “[Having a brand] is useless without a top-down commitment, and the whole team needs to live it so that the customer knows they are getting what your brand promises and that your team is committed to the brand.”

Borth received her accreditation from The Brand Establishment, which was developed in 2000 to assist, train and certify agencies in their brand-development process. Each certified brand strategist must demonstrate and pass a rigorous program to achieve certification in their respective markets and be critiqued by The Brand Establishment’s Certification Advisory Board. After completing the program in 2008, Borth joined a new generation of thought leaders in brand development.

About Kelly Borth
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders.™ As one of only 35 certified brand strategists in North America, and the only marketing consultant in central Ohio to achieve this elite status, Kelly personifies dynamic communications in action and understands what it takes to define a brand and turn that into an increase in market share and solid results.

About GREENCREST
Inspired in 1990, GREENCREST is the only brand certified agency in central Ohio, and one of only 35 in North America. GREENCREST is a Google Partner with Google AdWords certified professionals. As a full-service marketing, advertising, public relations, digital and social media agency, GREENCREST specializes in brilliantly executed communications programs that follow the GREENCREST philosophy: Brand. Plan. Ignite your Business.™ More information is available at www.greencrest.com.

 

Brand Value Pyramid: Visualize where your brand stands

 

The Brand Value Pyramid is a tool for CEOs to visualize their company’s brand value. It illustrates some of the most common brand assets. To assess your company’s brand, start at the bottom of the pyramid and continue upward, going from lowest to highest value.

Brand Value Pyramid

Low value: brand features/attributes

Most brands offer a suitable price point. This value is in the worth a customer places on it. Product offering is essential in most cases, but not all; it depends on your competitors. You may present hundreds of SKUs or a limited number. Stellar customer service, friendly return policies and online sales make doing business with your company easy in the eye of the customer

Customers expect this from brands they do business with. These have low value when it comes to brand distinction, and ultimately business value.

High value: brand visuals

Visual elements are the first opportunity to distinguish your brand. Your logo, collateral materials, and website, among other things, are mandatory for increased value. But, don’t think for a minute that this is brand development. Until your brand’s unique distinction has been discovered, don’t start the visual identity process.

Higher value: brand esteem

To grow the value of your brand, define a sales experience that is second-to-none. What will make doing business with your company memorable? Most people will put price aside if the experience is enjoyable.

Reputation can be the vanguard of a good, highly valued brand. A valuable brand is known for doing good; treating customers, suppliers, associates and others right; as well as being honest, trustworthy and a good corporate citizen.

Every company has a culture—a personality. A grumpy old mechanic’s behavior may be acceptable because you know under that crusty facade is a good heart, but that’s not a terrific brand asset. A brand that is quirky, brash or even savoir-faire can have strength, but only if its audience is attracted to or relates with its ways.

Highest value: brand merit

What does the relationship with your brand and its customers have to do with brand value? Everything. When customers enjoy or find value in your brand, they tell others. They sometimes wear your logo as a badge of loyalty, which results in repeat and referral sales.

Almost everything a company does that is unique can be trademarked—proprietary processes, unique approaches, specialized tools and so on. When these trademarked processes and procedures (brand points) are added to other proprietary practices, you create a brand bundle—a collection of assets or portfolio of services competitors cannot provide.

Anywhere an audience encounters your brand in a place other than the point of sale is a connection. So how does your brand connect? Where are customers and prospects encountering your business beyond paid marketing efforts? There is great value in this connection.

A company’s purpose, cause and belief are as important as its brand offerings. Toms® Shoes has a lot of competitors but it’s distinguished by its purpose. Why does your company exist? How are you changing your industry, your customers’ businesses and/or the world in which we live?

 

Is Your Business Really Using Integrated Marketing?

 

integrated marketing communications

Marketers are always some of the first adopters to capitalize on new communication channels to promote organizations. Businesses benefit from constantly seeking new and improved ways to reach their target audiences. If you look at the history of communication and technology, you will also see the history and evolution of marketing.

Marketing has grown to include many types of communication.

  • The printing press led to print advertising.
  • Postal mail inspired direct mail.
  • The invention of the telephone made way for telemarketing.
  • Radio and television became new channels for advertising.
  • Email turned out to be a cost-effective way to promote business.
  • Blogs and websites turned into a great source for sponsored posts and online ads.
  • Mobile phones and text enabled marketers to reach people on-the-go.
  • Social media was a new frontier for marketers to connect with a new audience in a personal manner.

As technology and communication channels continue to evolve, marketing will always evolve with those changes.

An Integrated Approach

With so many communication channels available, it’s easy for businesses to start sending inconsistent, mixed messages across a variety of mediums. Integrated marketing, therefore, is critical to an organization’s success.

With an integrated marketing communication plan, a business is able to have a consistent brand message and corporate identity across all of its traditional and non-traditional marketing channels. Successful integrated marketers consciously use each medium to reinforce the other. For example, you may see a company website promotion on a magazine advertisement, and you can find a TV ad or news coverage on social media. Everything is consistent and interconnected.

A Potential Threat to Integrated Marketing

Because there are so many channels to use in promoting a business, many marketers have chosen to become specialists in a specific form of marketing. Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly common for entire agencies to specialize in one marketing function. From specialized public relations agencies to video production agencies to social media agencies, there are a number of functional marketers from which businesses can choose. However, this trend poses a danger to an integrated marketing approach.

Whether it’s a specialized agency or someone in charge of one type of marketing in an organization, functional marketers often develop tunnel vision, focusing only on how their specialty can help a business. Integrated marketers, on the other hand, wear many hats and think more strategically and holistically. They consider all opportunities and determine which solutions will give the best results for a client’s overall goals and budget.

So whether you’re looking to hire a marketing professional or use an outside agency, make sure they have broad marketing knowledge and your best interests at heart.

If you’re looking to utilize integrated marketing communications for your organization, the experts at GREENCREST can help. Contact us today.

 

 

Designing Logos for the Digital Age

Logos and Corporate Identity

A brand is not a logo, an advertising tag line or design elements. But that doesn’t negate the importance of a solid corporate identity.

It’s Cherished

Corporate identity—or a company’s logo, colors and design elements—help communicate a brand visually and make it come to life. A logo often becomes iconic. It not only lives in pop culture, but it becomes immortal in the hearts and minds of millions of people around the globe.

Think about it. Olympic athletes get tattoos of the five Olympic rings. Many celebrities’ street style includes a cup of coffee with a green and white logo on it. Hungry road trippers look for the famous golden arches alongside the highway. And every year there’s at least one M&M character walking door to door for a trick or treat.

Logos are everywhere around us. Some last; some don’t. So what’s the differentiating factor? When it comes to creating a timeless logo, good designers start by thinking strategically.

It’s Scientific

Logo design is both an art and science. Before the drawing and creative process can even begin, it’s important to thoroughly understand the organization and its target audiences. For an effective logo, start with research and ask strategic questions. This helps a designer make wise choices that represent the brand well and speak to the company’s key audiences.

It’s Simple

For a logo that can withstand the ages, it’s imperative to forgo trends. Instead, start with a simple black and white sketch. Simple is key because logos often need to be manipulated for various mediums and uses. They may be full color on a website and black and white in a newspaper ad. They may be large enough for a billboard and small enough to read on mobile phones.

In the age of social media icons and mobile apps, the idea of “simple” has never been more apparent. Many companies often make the mistake of using their full, complicated logo as their icon or “profile picture” on its social media company page. Oftentimes, the logo is too small to read, especially if there is smaller text underneath the logo. If a complete logo redesign is out of the question, it is wise to create a simpler logo or icon for social media and mobile app purposes only.

It’s Memorable

Memorable logos suit a company’s brand, resonate with its target audience and make a simple statement. They are also unique and distinctive enough to stand out among the clutter of thousands of other corporate identities. A company can do all it can to promote its logo, but the true test lies with the end-consumer. Do they accept it? Will they treasure it? If so, you may have a winner.

If you need help with your corporate identity, contact GREENCREST.

 

 

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  • The Only Business Book You’ll Ever Need

    cover of The Only Business Book You'll Ever Need

    GREENCREST Chief Strategy Officer Kelly Borth brings together today’s great marketing thought leaders in one book that helps business owners identify strategies to transform their business.

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