For the first time ever, we decided to host a PDG+bootcamp: an exclusive, eight-week course that will give your marketing representative a crash course in branding, design, marketing and more. If you couldn’t make the course, we have good news! Not only will we have additional cohorts this year, we’ll highlight the major lessons from each week here on our blog. Lesson 1 was all about the brand.
Think about your favorite company. It can be a restaurant, clothing store, car manufacturer, entertainment group. When you think about them, as a company, what is one of the first images that pops into your mind?
We’ll go first. We’re big coffee drinkers, so we frequent Starbucks. (Yes, we know, it’s cheaper to make our own, but c’mon.) When you think of Starbucks, what image pops into your mind? Maybe it’s a product (looking at you, pumpkin spice latte) but you also probably see their trademark logo on a sea green background. Maybe you’ve never stopped to ponder what their logo is — it’s a combination of the siren and mermaid, sometimes called a melusine — but you definitely recognize it when you see it.
We don’t usually look at a logo or a business and consciously think, “That is a cool logo therefore I would like to shop there.” We do, however, unconsciously choose things that stand out to us. So, as a brand, you want to stand out. Our first lesson gives great detail on how to do that. Here are the highlights:
Communicate with your audience. A key part of your brand is your logo. Poorly designed or irrelevant logos will communicate that your organization is either sloppy or out of touch with its audience. An overly generic logo can even make you look untrustworthy. Your logo is your organization’s introduction to your target market. Think of it like a visual handshake when a customer walks in the door. You only get one chance to make that first impression. Your logo should answer three questions: Who you are, what you do and what you value most.
Build up your brand equity. The effectiveness of a logo is dependent on brand equity. Some things build in value the longer you own them. So do brands. But, just like a house or a classic car, you have to take good care of your brand for it’s equity to build. Prime examples for brands are Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola. They are three of the most recognizable brands in the world, but that didn’t happen in a day or even a month. You build up brand equity with frequent exposure, rigid consistency and time
Your brand is more than your logo. It’s your logo, color pallet, typography, really anything associated with your organization’s identity. You have to choose your branding elements and stick with them. Consistent use of all of those items together is essential to building up your brand’s recognition.
Defend your brand. You need to come up with specific brand guidelines, and become a fierce defender of your brand. Any abuse or misuse of your brand needs to be taken seriously and promptly corrected.
Anything with your name on it is your brand. Period. That means it reflects on you and your organization. You want to take pride in every representation. Use high-quality design, photos and printing to sell yourself as a top-notch, professional organization. In the end, presentation is everything.
And that’s a wrap on Lesson 1. Stay tuned for Lesson 2: Marketing vs. Advertising.
Want to learn more? Try ordering a copy of “Isn’t” our in-house guide to branding and marketing, available here.
It can be tough to know the right time to market your business. A common mistake of businesses and organizations is to put off marketing until the situation is dire. It might seem like it makes sense to save money on marketing and advertising when business is rolling in, but you don’t want to wait until you’re in a slump and desperately need the business.
Michelle Singer, growth and development strategist here at PDG+creative, says marketing while you’re already doing well is smart for a number of reasons.
One of the biggest reasons you shouldn’t wait until times are desperate, Singer said, is because you can make better decisions.
“People make bad decisions when they’re in desperate need,” she said.
Panic can cause people to offer steep discounts or big promotions that might actually hurt their business in the long run. On the other hand, you can make decisions with confidence and a clear mind when you market during good times.
As with any good marketing plan, you can identify what people like about your business or organization, what they want from you, then promote yourself based on that. It provides better value for your customers, and provides you with peace of mind.
Another reason not to wait is money. It’s easier to allocate part of your budget toward marketing when business is booming, rather than try to scrape something together when times are hard. It’s kind of like not getting your car fixed until you only have a few dollars left in the bank. The chances of running into bigger, more expensive issues only grow the longer you put off routine maintenance. Taking care of your business should be proactive, not reactive.
Singer said if you plan out your marketing budget and needs for the year, you have more leverage to negotiate deals. For instance, if you sign a contract for a year’s worth of TV, radio, internet or newspaper ads, you’ll probably get much better rates. That stretches how far your dollars go across the year, giving you more bang for your buck.
“The more you can buy and commit to, the better the deal and better leverage you have in negotiating the prices,” Singer said.
There are a lot of details for each type of media, which is where professional help can be a lifesaver. A media agency can help you know which media to choose, and can help you read the fine print to know exactly what you’ll be getting.
If you’ve already waited until crunch time, it’s OK! Singer said the most important thing is to not panic.
“Take a deep breath. You don’t want to make desperate decisions,” she said.
She strongly recommends getting a professional media agency (like PDG+creative) to help get you back on track. It might seem like you can’t afford it, but ask yourself if you can afford not to.
“It is worth the money to get some marketing consulting,” she said. “At least get some direction and an assessment.”