What Taylor Swift Can Teach You About Branding

1. Brand Consistency is Key

If you are a Taylor Swift fan, then you know that with each new album comes a new “era”. That means a new style, new sound and sometimes a new haircut. Taylor has been quoted saying that she does this so that years later she can look at a picture of herself and know exactly what album she was working on. 

From left to right: Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989 and Reputation

From left to right: Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989 and Reputation

How this applies to your business:

If you are going with a theme for a campaign for you business, you need to go all in. If you are doing graphics that include watercolors, you need to continue that theme until you launch a new campaign. You need time for people to get used to it and assign the relationship between those graphics and your brand. A good example to look at for this is Apple. When they launch a new phone, they have a campaign theme to go along with it. This new iPhone X theme is swirled paint and water. Which coincidentally was a theme also taken on by the new Adobe launch. You can see them side by side here:

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2. Brand Evolution

While consistency is important you also can’t ignore that a brand is going to grow and evolve. Taylor Swift has done this beautifully, slowing changing throughout each new album. It was always age appropriate, she didn’t go from country princess to sex kitten overnight. She evolved and matured at a normal pace — the same way that her fans were also growing up along with her. If she had gone from singing “Love Story” to singing “Look What You Made Me Do” we would all be pretty shocked. But her evolution from country to pop was actually pretty smooth. In her last country album, Red she had songs that sounded completely pop - like “I Knew You Were Trouble”. This started to temper her fans into this kind of style and when 1989 came out, they were completely on board. 

In 2011, she understood that many of her fans were still young girls and that she was a role model for them whether she liked it or not. She was quoted saying "I definitely think about a million people when I am getting dressed in the morning," "That's just part of my life now. I think it's my responsibility to know it and to be conscious of it."

How this applies to your business:

Your business is going to evolve and grow, but doing a complete 180 overnight is going to upset your customers. Sure, you will always upset someone with any type of change, but you can avoid a huge upheaval by evolving on a gradient. 

3. Survey and Engage with Your Audience

Taylor Swift is known for her intense involvement with her fans. Some examples include: 

•“T-party” which is a party that she hosts for hand-picked fans at the end of her concerts. They eat pizza and take pictures and hang out together.
 

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• Tumblr Comments: Since the 1989 era, Taylor has been on Tumblr and has interacted and commented on numerous fan posts. 

• Fan Visits and Presents: Taylor has some relationships with fans that have lasted through her whole career. She has sent boxes of Christmas presents, helped pay for college, attended weddings and bridal showers. See this here: https://youtu.be/j3yyF31jbKo

• Secret Sessions: Just when you thought the fan-love couldn’t get stronger, before the launch of 1989, Taylor hosted “Secret Sessions”. These are sessions held at her houses across the country where hundreds of fans are hand-picked to hear her new album before it gets released. These fans had to keep this secret for months until the album was released. She carried on this tradition into this new album Reputation. See this here: https://youtu.be/kGOmPmILndU

Taylor knows what her audience likes to hear, what they want from her lyrics. In the forward of 1989, she wrote “These songs were once about my life. They are now about yours”. If you think this resonated just for young girls, then think again, because Ryan Adams was grieving a divorce when he heard 1989 and it helped him get through it. “It was very cathartic for me, because I found myself singing those songs and feeling things from my divorce.” He went on to release a cover album of 1989

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How this applies to your business:

Always listen to your customers. Even if it is things you don’t want to hear. The easiest way to hear from customers is on social media. If you are transparent about your business you will gain and keep customers when you start really having a conversation with them. 

4. Take a PR nightmare and turn it into solid gold. 

As Taylor says, “haters gonna hate”. Tomorrow is the launch of Taylor’s new album Reputation and whether you like this new era or hate it, I don’t think it matters. This album is going to sell like hotcakes and I think it embodies the example of what you do after you have been embarrassed by the world — you stand up and fight back. 

Are you ready for it? :) 

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Staying Alive in the World of Social Media

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You need to be alive in order to be in business. I know that’s kind of a “duh!” thing to say but I see it happen often where a person thinks they can start a business and just phone it in and not do the hard work. Any business that just sits still and hides behind a website or a phone number is not going to last for long. In today’s marketplace you need to be alive, have a personality and really communicate to the people who use your product or service. I remember when we first started Do Good Creative, I was sooooo impatient when we would post on social media. I wanted to talk to people, I wanted to help people with design advice, I wanted to hear about their products and what they did. I wanted to know what they liked and disliked. 

Unfortunately, that interaction didn’t happen for quite a while, because even though I wanted to talk to them, they didn’t want to talk to me! Why? Because Do Good Creative wasn’t alive yet, we had just started and we hadn’t been posting very long. We weren’t attracting enough attention. So the first thing I did was try to attract attention from the people I wanted to talk to. We did a video series that highlighted different companies that gave back to their communities. At first we got 5 likes on a post, but then after a while, we got more and more interaction and companies started talking to us because they wanted to be featured in our videos. We got their attention. 

Now after a couple years we average over 100 likes on a post and we have really solidified ourselves in the group that we want to hear from and talk to. It was a lot of work to get people to notice us, but it got us to where we are now. It also snowballs and it gets easier and easier to communicate, be alive, and get attention so you can build a following that you can interact with. It’s very hard to be persistent in your communication in business. It starts to feel redundant to you since you are the one creating it, but it is not to your audience because they are being hit with thousands of messages every day. 

So the moral of the story is be alive and you will stay alive… and that’s all there is to it.

Branding is much more than “making it look pretty”

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We have come across this viewpoint that branding is unnecessary and that it is “nice to have” and just “makes things look pretty”. This could not be more wrong. Whether you like it or not you have a brand because, to put it simply, branding is just differentiation. It is what distinguishes your company from other companies. Your brand needs to reflect what your company stands for and what principles you will follow into the future.

You may know “who you are” but if you don’t take the time to brand your company, other people will do it for you. You don’t want to be “that skincare company that is trying to be like {well-known brand} but not as good” or “the product is really great, but I can’t remember the name, starts with a ‘y’ I think?” or “that cream that smells like cough syrup”. These are things that we all say when we talk about products, companies and places. We have also said things like “ you have to go there, the food is amazing!” and “that cream changed my skin, it is so great!” Differentiation can be good, bad, on purpose and by accident. 

When you are figuring out your branding, you are also looking at your product or service and putting it through the wringer as well. Is your product good enough? Is your service really delivering what it is promising? All these things together: your product, service, message, position, viewpoint, purpose and vision all tie together to form what makes you different — and that is your brand. 

After you have that established, you need to visually represent it. This is where you might need some help. How do you take all those conceptual things and turn them into a logo, packaging, website, flyer, signage, etc.? It’s a tough job, but when it’s done right you have everything you need to push forward as a company. There is no question on what font you are using, what the image should look like or what color the box should be. Your branding is established and it is the bedrock of your business. Now you just focus on building and growing. 

Hopefully that helped convince you that branding is more than just “making it look pretty”.

If you need help with your company’s branding call us at (727) 303-0387 for a FREE branding consultation. 

Social Media Marketing is a 4 Course Meal!

social media is a four course meal

Social media marketing is not new but it is becoming more generally known to businesses as a way of promoting their services and products. But if you think of social media as only a way of promoting, it is like going to a 4-course meal and only eating the dessert. Let me explain.

Let’s make this very simple by just looking at a Facebook Business page. The set up of the page should represent your brand. Your logo and colors, your services, a great Cover Photo that represents your company are all part of your brand awareness. This would include how people would perceive your company, what their expectations are of the company and what the company promises to its consumers. Representing your brand throughout everything you do on Facebook is vital to your success. Brand awareness is your appetizer on Social Media.

Public Relations is the salad or soup course on Social Media. Public Relations is making the things your company does well known and well thought of. This is done by sharing customer testimonials, projects that you do in the community to help others, info about your staff, accomplishments that the company has attained, etc. If you don’t put these things out, no one will know about them. These can be done as posts on Facebook and they generally get a lot of engagement.

Marketing is the main course. Marketing consists of everything around your product or service such as the concepts, packaging, photos and the way it is presented. It also includes how you are going to get it into your customer’s hands. This is going to be handled on Facebook by the way the posts are designed and how your product is talked about or shown. It could even be the way you educate people about it.

Promotion is the last course, which is dessert!! Promotion is the way you place your product so that people will respond to it. On Facebook, that would be FB ads. These are directed to a certain audience that would be interested in your product and they would be designed so that they would attract that audience to buy the product.

So, as you can see, just a well-done Facebook Business page can give you all of the above pieces of the Marketing- Promotion puzzle. Unfortunately, many businesses overlook the importance of what they do on their business Facebook page. They put up off-color jokes, have terrible design that doesn’t even fit the page correctly, have typos, bad logo, stolen images, etc. Then they expect to throw up a Facebook ad asking for people to buy their products, to actually work. Well guess what? It won’t!

What will work is to recognize that Social Media is multi-faceted. If you utilize them ALL, you will get results and an entire meal.

Is your branding making your head spin?

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Figuring out your branding can make your head spin… here’s how to fix it.

Before you start looking at your competition and looking through Instagram and Pinterest at things you like so you can show a designer, you need to first get your purpose and mission nailed down. If that is flimsy and you don’t truly know these points: who you are, who you are marketing to, who you are helping, why you can do it better than anyone else and what makes you different than the others,  you are going to have a really hard time deciding on the look and feel of your branding. You will run into what we call the “something shiny syndrome”. This is when you get something back from a designer and you think you like it… and then you see something on Instagram and you think “Oh no, I like that better…” then the designer changes it to be like that and you think you like it, and then you proceed to go on Pinterest and think“Oh no, I like THAT better!” and the cycle continues. 

Now we are not saying this in a condescending way— as a company we have gone through this exact thing. However, we have identified a cure. That cure is to go back and write down and work through what the purpose and mission of your company is.  When you really have that and you give that to a designer, you will have beautiful things happen. The reason is that you are not trying to be something you are not and you are not trying to be like someone else. You will have something that is purely YOURS and represents you as a company. Then you will have people copying you… but that’s a different article.

We love branding and design. We love helping people nail down what it is that makes their company different and then we visually represent it for them. When you have branding for your company that you absolutely love because it embodies everything you care about as a company, you get so inspired to work harder, get seen and expand. 

If you are suffering from something-shiny syndrome, give us a call at (727) 303-0387 and we can help you find a cure. 

How to View Your Own Advertising

Many business owners make a critical mistake when creating advertising. They write the advertising and pick photos that they like and understand. They forget all about their audience, the people they are trying to attract with their ads and they do not communicate their message.

When you write the copy and choose a picture for a post or an ad, you then need to take your professional hat off and walk over to the other side of life and be your audience. It is from that viewpoint you need to critique the ad. Does it contain words or acronyms that the normal person does not understand? Is the photo interesting and represent the product or service? Is the photo confrontable and not graphic and disturbing such as bleeding gums for a dentist, smashed in cars for Car Insurance or injured pet for a Veterinarian. I’m sorry- no one wants to see these pictures. 

So write your ads and look at them from the point of view of your potential customers. This will get you much better results.

Just Get Busy

Have you ever had a little quiet time in your business when no one calls and you are finished up with your “To Do” list and you are frankly, bored? It is the ebb and flow of small business- crazy busy and slow and crazy busy and slow. 

Well, here is an idea for you. Why not contact your clients, customers or patients? Just call or email and see how they are doing, do they need any help with anything? NOT A SALES CALL!! Just a hi and how are you call. For example, “I wanted to check in with you to see how you were liking your new oven.”

“I wanted to see how it went planting the tree we delivered?”  “ I want to see how your marketing is going- are you getting in more customers?” 

These phone calls or emails will surprise the heck out of your customers and will cement your relationship with them. So get busy!

My Marketing Doesn’t Work!

When I hear business people say this I just cringe! It is usually based on gathering the wrong information. When you first start a Marketing Campaign you need to clearly define the goal of the campaign. For example, if you are trying to get new customers or clients, you need to measure these and graph them on a weekly basis. You also should know what your income is on a weekly basis. You need to look at improvement in these areas of your business.

Oftentimes when there is a new marketing campaign, the client is looking for people to specifically say where they came in from. As an example, a person gets a postcard, which gives them the business website. After visiting the website they decide to come in. When asked, “How did you hear about us?”, the person says, “ Your website”. 

WRONG!

They didn’t hear about you from the website, they heard about you by way of the Postcard.  Another example is a person looking at their Facebook newsfeed and they see your sponsored ad. They see that a friend of theirs also likes your page. They ask their friend about you and the friend says, “ Oh yeah, they are great!” You come into the office and you are asked,” How did you here about us?” and the person answers, “ My friend told me!”

 WRONG!

They found out about you on Facebook and THEN contacted their friend. 

What is the point of all this? The point is that you can’t look at the bits and pieces of your advertising and say it works or it doesn’t work. You have to look at your overall statistics- Income going up? New Customers going up? Are you generally doing better in your business?

The other problem is that you need to commit to a campaign for a length of time. People get hit with over 5,000 pieces of information a day so you are going to have to get your message across at least 5 times for them to process that you are there. Don’t start a campaign and cancel it in 2-3 months. Keep it going and if it doesn’t seem to be effective, then tweak it. Change out pictures and headlines - make it work. 

The moral of the story is: Keep your outflow going out and measure the overall objective of the campaign by looking at the numbers. Don’t worry about what customers say to you. They have a hard time remembering where they just parked their car.  😄

Email Lists – To Unsubscribe or Not to Unsubscribe?

I have just been called The Queen of Email Annoyance. Why? I get so annoyed at all the email lists I’m on, but when my tech person tells me just to unsubscribe from them, I scream, “No!!”

I was trying to figure out why that is . . . First, I want to say that the emails I am talking about are not the bombardment of sales types hitting my Inbox twice a day, they are the informational kind. I think that most of these emails at one point gave me some help on something, such as nutritional tips or motivational quotes, marketing ideas, book reviews or maybe just good news. I actually have one email blast that just promotes good news and that is refreshing, right?

Well, the reason I don’t unsubscribe is because it’s my exchange to them for giving me something of value – I want to support companies that help me and others. 

Why don’t you unsubscribe?

Why it is Important, Vital and Even Crucial to Proofread?

If you are doing your own marketing or even if you are contracting someone else to do your marketing, it is absolutely crucial that you have a literate person proofread the content before it goes out. You need to be responsible for it – it’s your marketing! When you get sent a proof of a postcard, Facebook ad or website design, do this:

Go to a quiet room with no disturbances. Have a dictionary or computer available to check spelling. Go through each and every line of the content. Check all names, telephone numbers, address and zip code. Check everything!  Sometimes it helps to read it backwards because your mind can fill in and correct errors. 

It is very embarrassing and expensive for an ad to go out with spelling errors or a wrong number. Proof, proof, proof!