As we go about our daily business, we often get people looking for advice, and asking questions around what we do. Rather than keep the answer a secret between us and the question asker, we thought we’d share some of the highlights with you. Here’s hoping you learn something new.
This is the exception to our promise for short answers. Get ready for a mini essay.
Your brand carries every part of your business. From customer service, to purchasing experiences, to a social media post, every action taken by your company is connected back to a brand. Thus, for a customer to engage with your business, that needs to be a positive brand experience. That brand needs to be a clear and unified, to allow people to connect with it.
A consistent voice and identity gives clarity to your service, presents a customer with an organised and unified company, and can connect to people on a human level by telling the story of who you are. Connection to a brand is what encourages customer loyalty, and brand engagement pushes repeat business.
Without a unified, consistent visual brand identity, companies can be lost in a sea of marketing noise. There would be no personality or identity that people can relate to, and it is this relation that drives customer loyalty and repeat business. There can also be confusion around your proposition if there are multiple voices inconsistently explaining the same thing across different marketing mediums.
Imagine this. Your brand can either be 4 people trying to tell a story to someone, all at the same time. Or your brand can be one person, delivering a clear and well-considered story. One is confusing, disorganised, overwhelming, and dissuades engagement, and the other is thoughtful, easy to digest, and simpler to engage with.
The best brands distinguish themselves through meaningful and considered communication, and through this build much deeper relationships with their customers. A careless or poorly considered brand reflects a careless business. Assumptions and bad first impressions will be made by potential customers, purely on a brand image.
It has been said many times, but take Apple as an example. From a technology perspective, their products are not as good as the competition in terms of specification. But what sets them apart and drives loyalty is a clear brand, with a clear identity and mission that is conveyed consistently. Through promoting a unified image of luxury, and a careful design and production process, they elevate their products even above those that are technically superior.
Thus, every piece of marketing produced by your business should be a testament to care and thought. Humans have an innate response to things that are built with care and consideration, and so our responses to meticulous brands and marketing are inherently positive. The inverse is true for carelessness.
It is crucial to give a single, clear “personality” for customers to associate experiences with, and connect to.
In truth, a brand is not something that can be completely built and maintained simply by establishing certain elements.
It is something that is created, reinforced, and improved through time, through careful and disciplined execution. However, there are of course some key foundations to a visual identity, to begin building that brand image. Those are as follows: Logo, Brand typeface(s) (paired with logo), Brand colour palette.
The first step to establishing a brand is by creating the above key elements, and then building discipline around executing these brand essentials in your marketing materials.
This is achieved in a brand guideline, or brand manual, that tells the story of your company, and how your business should always be represented. A good brand guideline will clearly lay out your visual identity and your tone of voice, so that anyone executing on your brand will communicate with consistency. The brand guideline itself should also serve as an example of this brand identity, narrating the reader through the manual, speaking as your company’s “personality”.
Through consistently executing on a brand guideline, over time your brand will establish itself with increasing clarity and cut-through.
A logo is just part of a brand. Having a good logo alone is not sufficient. It has to tie in with every other part of your visual identity in order to make sense, and create a brand with soul and substance.
People notice a disconnect between brand elements, even if sub-consciously, and so it is important to design a logo in the context of a holistic brand identity.
A logo without real purpose will convey carelessness and disunity.
For customers to engage properly with a brand, they need to be presented with a unified voice and identity. This gives clarity to your service, and gives customers a single “personality” to connect to.
Every positive interaction with your business will be tied back and associated to your brand, so it is crucial to make that brand clear, understandable, and memorable.
By allowing people to engage and connect with your company through a carefully crafted identity, not only do you ensure good first impressions, but you encourage customer loyalty and repeat business.
Branding is also foundational to building credibility and trustworthiness, which are key to growth in any business.
Marketing is the vessel which carries your brand. A visual and tonal identity is established internally, and marketing is the way to communicate that identity externally, and to get your voice and message into the world.
Your brand is communicated through everything your business touches. Of course this is predominantly marketing, but every customer experience carries a relation to your brand.
From a marketing perspective, effectively communicating your brand means establishing a visual identity, and executing on that identity with consistency and discipline across every advertising medium and touchpoint.
This depends on your business type, and your goals.
Well, to an extent. For almost any business, a website or a landing page is a necessity. To increase organic (i.e. unpaid) traffic to that website, that site should also be Search Engine Optimised (more on that later…). A website is crucial for clearly communicating your business and your goals, pushing traffic down your sales/conversion funnel, and providing that all-important first impression to many of your site visitors.
A clear social media presence is also critical, as a place for people to engage with your brand and keep up to date with your offering. Properly managed social media channels can massively increase awareness and consideration in your brand, and push people further down the sales funnel, with zero advertising budget. It also offers numerous ways to target a specific audience, to ensure you are speaking to people who are likely to be interested in what you have to say.
Beyond this, marketing needs generally vary. From explainer videos, to printed brochures, to email campaigns, other communication pieces and their priority depends on your industry and your aims.
This difference is pretty simple. Advertising is trying to sell to customers something directly, with a call-to-action attached, whereas content marketing is trying to help customers, answer questions, and develop brand loyalty as a means of generating revenue.
Content marketing is a way of tying customers to your brand, and getting them to buy into your company consistently by becoming a reliable source of information and product that customers want to return to.
Typically, a landing page is a single web page which drives towards a specific action. Converting visitors into leads is often the main goal of a landing page, and so a landing page is structured to drive towards a call-to-action such as “sign up”.
A website, on the other hand, serves multiple purposes and is more complex. Rather than driving towards a specific action, it is there to allow visitors to fully explore your company, discover your story, buy your products, learn about your service, and so on. A website usually has many pages, with a menu system to navigate the site.
The reasons here are plentiful, but we’ll boil it down to 3 key reasons.
Firstly, a custom website gives you complete control over your brand and your appearance. Your website becomes a full brand experience, unique to you and your business.
By making a customised website that precisely executes your brand’s visual identity, your company is displayed in exactly the way you want it to be, and can incorporate functionality in exactly the way you want it to.
And if you’re still not convinced, put it this way, the best brands in the world don’t use templates. If you value your brand, and want that brand to grow and engage people, your website should be custom-made to the exact vision of your business.
Secondly, a custom-coded site is far more competitive than one that uses a cheap builder. Quick-and-easy site builders just don’t compete when it comes to ranking on search engines. If your competitors have a better site than you, they will appear on Google and other search engines ahead of your business.
Third, a custom-site is speedier. One of the issues with web-builders is they often host hundreds of sites on the same server, and this impacts the speed of your site.
Instead, your website can be hosted through us, on a fast server, giving the best possible user experience. Slow websites can frustrate customers, meaning they have a bad association with your brand.
All-in-all, a website built using a cheap web builder is a bad long-term investment. If you are serious about building your business, you will very quickly outgrow what a web builder provides, and the limitations will impact your company.
Ultimately, the time you spend creating a website using templates will have to be re-invested in a new website in the not-too-distant future. Save the time, and equip yourself and your business to grow by investing in a custom-made site.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Search engines such as Google have algorithms that determine the rankings of their search results, and if you optimise your sight for these algorithms, you will rank higher in those results.
For example, if you run a business selling stuffed elephant toys (why not?), you would want Google to rank you highly for search terms like “toy elephant”, “elephant toys”, etc. By ranking highly for these searches, you massively increase the amount of organic traffic to your website.
Essentially, a good SEO strategy for your online presence can get you tons of free marketing and exposure through people clicking through from search engine results. Plus, ranking highly on Google for your key search terms is huge in terms of adding credibility and authority to your business.
This depends on your business. It is not necessarily true nor desirable that every business needs to be putting effort into all of the big social channels, and it might instead be more prudent to focus strategically on a few.
Your precise industry, and your target audience, will have a big impact on where you should be focusing. For example, with a 40+ audience, there might be little point in investing in a Snapchat advertising campaign (as this platform is skewed towards younger demographics).
In terms of industry, let’s say someone runs a restaurant, then investment in Instagram would be advisable for such a photo-friendly business. Furthermore, your social media goals with impact the platforms you use.
If a big part of what you do involves sharing videos, you should consider a proper YouTube strategy. If you primarily share blogs or information, Facebook and Twitter could be more appropriate. For sharing images, Instagram and Facebook are the obvious choices.
Or for business-to-business content, or content meant for specialised career skills, LinkedIn might be best.
In this context, “organic” is a fancy way of saying “free”.
Paid traffic is when you attract web or social visitors through paid ad campaigns. Organic traffic is anyone visiting your website or social channels who got there without an advert.
For example, if you posted some great content on Instagram and it was discovered by someone through hashtag searching, if they then went to your profile or your website, this would count as organic traffic.
Like a properly built website, an active social media presence can get you a lot of free advertising and exposure.
Building awareness and consideration can be done with zero advertising budget if your social platforms are properly managed.
By creating quality content, optimising that content for your precise audience, posting at optimal times, using the most effective hashtags for your specific industry, among many more factors, you can get a big social following and engage people in your brand with no paid adverts.
An active social media presence, when properly integrated into a website, can also improve search engine rankings and thus be part of a good SEO strategy to generate higher organic traffic to your website (see our question “What is SEO and why do I need it?” for more on that).
In summary, when used regularly and effectively, social media can popularise your brand and get you customers and leads for free. And when you have an advertising budget, it allows you to target adverts at very specific audiences with relevant interests who have a higher chance of converting into customers, meaning a better return on investment.
Social media is inundated with marketing. Most businesses are now posting content and creating advertising campaigns, and so standing out from the crowd is becoming harder.
Good content adds value to your audience’s social media experience, and so should have a clear purpose and be presented thoughtfully. Something well written, carefully designed, or beautifully photographed will already stand out and catch the eye against the noise of social media.
Aesthetics are also crucial. With people scrolling through social feeds, you might have 1 or 2 seconds to grab someone’s attention, so you need to make an impact in this tiny window of time. Carefully considering the look-and-feel of your social content is important here, and having things like consistent, branded templates for certain posts, or a defined photographic direction, can go a long way. Creating good content is also about knowing your audience and strategising. Tracking and analysing the performance of each post is a great way of understanding the kind of content you should be posting, as you can then optimise and plan for what your audience is engaging with.
The platform you use will also have a big influence on the type of content you should be posting, and what counts as “good content” might vary from platform to platform.
For example, on Instagram, stories and highlights should be used properly, and image quality needs to be outstanding. Or on YouTube, you might want to post longer videos, whereas shorter videos generally engage better on Facebook or Instagram.