Companies, whether newly-launched or well-established, need to take the time to drill down and construct their Mission, Vision, and other brand statements, for two reasons. Not only does this help inform their marketing agency (ahem), but this informs and guides all aspects of what they do.
According to Minneapolis consultants Martini & Associates, “Too often, those organizations that choose not to do this find themselves the ‘victims of change’ rather than the ‘architects of change.’“ Spend the time and effort to construct a comprehensive branding plan, and it may save you time, confusion, and effort lost in pursuing the wrong things.
Cazarin Interactive recently went through this process and we’d like to share some of our results with you.
Here are four types of brand statements, with Cazarin’s examples included.
1 ) Brand Promise
What the company commits to the people who interact with it. It’s not a description of what a company does in a literal sense; it’s a description of the company’s character.
The NFL: “To be the premier sports and entertainment brand that brings people together, connecting them socially and emotionally like no other.”
Coca-Cola: “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
Virgin: “To be genuine, fun, contemporary, and different in everything we do at a reasonable price.”
Cazarin Interactive: “To be a genuine agency that specializes in building relationships not only between ourselves and the client—but between the client and their customers.”
2 ) Mission Statement
A written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly-crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization. Entrepreneur Magazine calls a company’s mission statement “a key tool that can be as important as your business plan.”
Google: “To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb: “To discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.”
Dow Chemical: “To constantly improve what is essential to human progress by mastering science and technology.”
Disney: “The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”
Target: “Our mission is to make Target the preferred shopping destination for our guests by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and an exceptional guest experience by consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less.® brand promise.”
Cazarin Interactive: “To help our clients understand and solve their marketing challenges with customized solutions, achieving client-specified goals.”
3 ) Vision Statement
An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. As Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Microsoft: “Empower people through great software anytime, anyplace, and on any device.”
Amazon: “Our [Amazon’s] vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
World Wildlife Fund: “We seek to save a planet, a world of life. Reconciling the needs of human beings and the needs of others that share the Earth.”
Disney: “To make people happy.”
Cazarin Interactive: “To be a premier digital marketing agency where both employees and clients enjoy working together in a creative environment filled with happy people.”
4 ) Customer Value Proposition
A business or marketing statement that describes why a customer should buy a product or use a service. It is specifically targeted toward potential customers rather than other constituent groups such as employees, partners or suppliers.
Pinterest: “A few (million) of your favorite things.”
Fundly: “Raise money for anything. Fundly is fast, easy and has no raise requirements.”
Thumbtack: “Accomplish your personal projects.”
iTunes: “You’ve never been so easily entertained.”
Cazarin Interactive: “A unique blend of design, creative, and technological solutions that catapult brands both large and small toward specified goals.”
Now, how does a team determine these statements? And what do you do with them once you have them?
There are many ways to arrive at these nuggets, from locking yourselves in a conference room for 2 hours, to a 3-day dig-deep consulting session. Whether you use organizational effectiveness experts to help you develop these statements and create a plan for how to live them out, or turn to Cazarin to provide guidance as your organization begins these important discussions, it’s a step that cannot be skipped.
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Your logo is one of the most important aspects of your brand. It acts as your spokesperson, communicating on your behalf to current and potential customers. It must be easily recognizable while also exemplifying your brand. Take a moment every few years to objectively look at your logo and determine how well it’s serving you. Here are some pointers.
1. Does your logo translate from full color to one color, while still looking clean and recognizable?
Some designers even start their process in black and white to eliminate having to make this transition later on. If your logo cannot translate into one color you might need your designer to create an alternate logo, in which shapes are simplified, outlined, or separated more.
Why would you need a one color logo when you only plan on using your logo in full color? There are many special circumstances that may arise for your brand where you’ll need a one color logo, such as stamps, embossed versions, and signage.
2. Is your logo unique and memorable?
If it’s made with stock images or an online logo generator, the answer is probably a negative. A logo that’s unique is extremely important, and increasingly harder to find. When it comes to the icon, oftentimes uniqueness is sacrificed for being literal to what your brand does or company name. Remember, some of the best logos throughout history have nothing to do with the meaning of the company’s name or the product. They can pay homage to the history of the company (Starbucks), be a showcase of one of the letters in the company name (WordPress), or just be abstract symbolism (Pepsi).
3. Does your logo have specified Pantone colors, as well as CMYK and RGB colors?
These standardized color specifications will help keep your brand consistent in print materials.
Not sure what these are? Pantone is a company that makes a large number of specific inks that are always consistent in color. CMYK color is likely what your printer at work uses, when it mixes 4 primary colors to make any colors in your document (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key [black]). Because every printer is different, CMYK printing can result in very slight color inconsistencies. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is the color space that screens and monitors use. Having these three color types determined for your logo will help ensure your brand colors come out looking right every time.
4. How your logo is used is just as important as how it looks.
Decide what version or what colors you’ll be using for print materials, in one-color contexts, and with or without text. If your logo has ever been updated, ensure that everyone is consistently using the newest version. Make sure your logo is used in places where it remains readable. It should have a margin around it to give it space and room to breathe.
Consider creating a brand guide that clearly defines how your logo, company name, and tagline are to be used in different situations.
5. Does your logo scale down well?
Your logo will inevitably need to be seen at very small sizes, and it will need to remain distinguishable when this happens. If your logo looks muddled when scaled down, create an alternate, simpler version. For social media it is also important to have a small avatar version. This can be just the icon part of your logo or it can be a unique letterform in your logotype. It should fit into a square while remaining bold enough to distinguish at very small sizes (such as on mobile devices or next to YouTube comments).
6. Is it obvious that your logo was designed 5 years ago?
Trends in the design world change quickly; it’s important that your logo doesn’t look dated. Ideally your logo will be timeless. But as no one can predict the future and it’s hard to anticipate where design trends will go, it will more than likely look a bit dated after a while. To keep up with the times, logos can be completely redesigned (MoA) or just slightly revamped (NFL).
Remember, there is no exact recipe for a successful logo. There are plenty of good logos out there that may not follow all of these rules. Is your logo up to snuff? If it’s not, we can help!
Yes, blogs can be a valuable asset to your company’s web presence. But that doesn’t mean you can create a WordPress account, write a three-hundred-word piece, and expect magic to just happen.
To create a blog that benefits your company, you need to have a plan in place—just as you would for any traditional marketing strategies. Here are the questions you need to ask as you form a plan for your company blog.
1. What Are Your Goals?
Like every investment you make in marketing, your blog should have a goal that can be measured. Here are some company goals that your blog can help fulfill.
- Building an email list. One of the most powerful digital assets you can invest in is your email list. It’s the most direct line to your customers that (usually) isn’t hindered by algorithms. An excellent way to build your email list is through a blog that is regularly updated with great content. While new visitors are nice, they don’t matter much if you can’t contact them again in the future.
- Creating credibility. Credibility can give you an edge over your competition. A blog is a great way to build that credibility. It is a perfect place for employees to share their expertise and fans to see why your products and services are indispensable. One way you can measure credibility is by tracking how often industry leaders cite or share content you have posted on your blog.
- Increasing the value of your website. Search engines love fresh content, and a blog is a great way to keep feeding the beast. If your goal is to increase the value of your website in terms of pageviews and rankings, a blog can you help do that. To measure these goals, start tracking the increase in organic reach, traffic, and keyword rankings.
Of course, there are many goals that you could have for your blog. Pick a goal that is measurable and start monitoring what works and what doesn’t.
2. Are You Prepared to Invest?
Installing a blog is almost touted as a get-rich-quick scheme. While it is typically cheaper than most marketing initiatives, especially over the long-term, adding “blog” at the end of your web address doesn’t make a success.
First, you have to learn how to produce content. A quality blog that helps you achieve the goals you set above requires more than just throwing a bunch of words together. Brainstorming topics, creating enticing headlines, and simply writing well is sometimes harder than it seems. Since a blog is one of the most public faces of your company, make sure that content is high quality. This may require the services of a professional writer or editor.
Professional writers can also help produce articles that are a bit longer. Google favors high-quality content, which often means more words per article. Top ranking posts on Google had a whopping 2,400+ words—or about ten pages of content. And Google favoring long-form content is a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
Blogs also require regular maintenance. If you are planning on building and growing an audience, you need to create new content fairly often. According to HubSpot, you need to publish four new pieces of content each week to get the most out of your blog.
Committing that amount of time and effort takes rock-solid planning, the right resources, and the right team.
3. Can You Handle the Risk?
No new venture comes without risk, even a simple blog. There a number of potential scenarios you should consider before diving in:
- How much will you let your community be involved? Will you allow readers and customers to comment on your blog? If so, do you have guidelines put in place to make sure discussions stay civil and customer complaints can be taken care of promptly?
- What happens if you go viral? Everyone loves a lot of traffic, but a lot of traffic at once can cripple your operations. Whether it’s your first or 100th post, any article can go viral at any time without warning. Can your servers take the heat? Are your writers and your company prepared to be accountable for the inevitable scrutiny that comes along with going viral?
- Can you handle the free spirit? Blogs, by nature, are supposed to be inviting and authentic. For some companies, it is easy to be open. For other companies, being open comes with some uneasiness.
- Have you considered the legal implications? It is likely that your company blog will be updated far more often than your other marketing materials. This means there are more opportunities for your company to be inadvertently involved in a legal issue. Just because a blog is a more casual affair does not mean you can neglect to consider consumer protection laws or advertising rules.
While many of these issues are unlikely to happen, they are still risks worth considering when deciding to add a blog to your company’s website.
4. Be Confident Pushing Forward
While answering these questions may feel daunting, be confident that having a plan will set up your company’s blog for immense long-term success. It will also give you an edge over your competitors, who are likely flailing, or worse, suffering from consequences that could easily be avoided.