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.
Need to make this a priority for your company?
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First, let’s review what has changed.
In August, the Local Results that are often shown directly under paid ads went from including seven results to only including three. And the competition to be in that pack of 3 instantly got fierce.
Then in February, Google changed their desktop results to look even more like a mobile search by getting rid of Right Column Ads altogether.
There are now usually four paid ads at the top of the page instead of three, while the other ads that used to appear on the right column of the page have shifted down. Those ads now sit quietly below the full page of organic results. Basically ad #4 got an upgrade to first-class, while ads #5 and #6 got downgraded to the cargo bay.
Taken together, these changes produced two major consequences for businesses, and both have to do with “the fold,” which means the top part of the page that you see without having to scroll.
- Organic results are now “Below the fold” in many cases, meaning that ads and local results in the map take up the top real estate of the search page. (See the “security systems” example search above.)
- Competition to be within the top 4 ads on the page and the top 3 local results with the map is suddenly much tougher than the previous layout of 6 ads and 7 local results. Basically businesses have half as many chances to show up above the fold as they did before.
What to do?
First of all, it turns out the 4th spot isn’t so bad now. Some argue that the 3rd ad position has actually received the biggest boost in clicks. While Cost-per-Click has gone up slightly for some because positions 5 and up are basically useless, the truth is that the 4-7 slots along the right rail weren’t getting many clicks anyway. Careful campaign management and watching those average positions and CPC will be key moving forward.
The local results that are shown with the map are still powered by Google’s algorithm, and you can’t pay to get there. And since the organic links are farther down the list, the local 3-pack has become even more important for local businesses. Now more than ever, businesses should be focusing on optimizing for local searches.
What does that mean?
Cazarin Interactive can help you optimize your local SEO. This includes monitoring and fixing directory citations, having consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone information), optimizing webpages for specific locations, and, among other things, creating and keeping up your Google+ local profile, especially by earning new Google+ reviews.
It’s worth noting that this update has made it more difficult for businesses located outside their target audience’s specific city. For example, if you search for Restaurants, the map will return with 3 restaurants very close to your physical location (probably with google+ reviews). Google has given more weight to physical location, which is helpful for some businesses like florists or dry cleaners, but less sense for businesses that serve an entire area.
Although the organic results are below the fold on many occasions, SEO is still extremely relevant not only because it factors into local rankings, but because in some cases, paid ads and local results are NOT part of the search engine results page. That’s right, when searching with certain terms, all of the information we’ve just given you does not apply, and it’s just you and the organic results.
For example, searches using long-tail keywords (those using 3 or more words) often return a page of only organic results, like this:
Although your friendly Google results page may look a bit bare, having a balanced strategy that includes the trifecta of a solid SEO plan, a strong Adwords showing, and quality content on your website is still the best way to fare these changes, and any changes yet to come.
Click below to see an example of an infographic on Responsive Website Design:
Should You Be Using Infographics?
Infographics can be very useful in the following situations:
- If you publish blogs or articles and would like to bring more attention to your content.
- If your business or blog has a presence on Pinterest. Pinterest is fueled by powerful images, with infographics as one of the main stars.
- If you have complicated results, data, or timelines you’d like to share with your visitors, and need an easy way to convey them.
- If you’d like to share your industry knowledge with your followers, and could use an attention-grabbing, potentially viral way to do it.
What makes a good infographic?
The colors of an infographic need to grab attention without being overwhelming. Consider using your brand’s colors, seasonal colors, or build off of the images that lead the topic. See this example created by Cazarin’s team.
If you’re planning to post on Social Media (and you should), your piece will end up in a feed of other images. The text must be readable enough at smaller sizes, particularly your headlines and subheaders. Check out this example!
Balance white space with content. Balance text with graphics. Balance dry data with interesting tidbits.
Don’t build an infographic just to build an infographic. Make sure it contains meaningful information and tidbits that can be read quickly or understood visually. If your infographic has text in paragraphs, take those parts out and let them take their rightful place in an article. See this example by Cazarin.
This is a chance to show your business’s expertise, and it should be branded accordingly. In addition to including your brand colors and your logo, work in your own message and personality. Use your brand’s voice, and include tidbits about your experience or your specialties where appropriate. See this somewhat subtle example from Ford about childhood “The Road to College.”
An infographic is only as good as the information it displays. Be sure to use only credible, accurate information, and place reference links in the footer of the infographic.
Resources for Infographics
These days many companies have locations in several cities and/or employees who work remotely, work from home, or are on the road.While online tools mean that staff is more flexible and mobile than ever, your productivity and office spirit may pay the price.
How to combat this modern mobile office dilemma?
Company Portals and Intranets.
Intranets have been around for years, but have recently become much more advanced, customizable, and affordable. You no longer need to dread logging in to some monochromatic bulletin board of boredom, provided you can even remember your password.
Today’s intranet systems can handle group chats, individual messaging, file sharing, large numbers of employees, and fun components like staff photos, company event calendars, polls, and forums.
Many distribution companies or those with sales agents use Intranets for their reps to be able to log in, find documents and information, and get what they need easily—no matter where they are. Member-based organizations can use intranets in similar ways.
Take Cazarin for example. Our former intranet had fallen out of use, so we created and implemented our own upgraded Intranet system, and we highly recommend this product for other small businesses.
- Staff can collaborate on Forums and Discussions, which are updated with comments in real time instead of keeping track of emails
- HR forms, such a Vacation requests and Payroll submission, can be done online
- Branding assets, such as logos, branded documents, and brand guidelines can be accessed from anywhere, with the knowledge that you’re using the newest version.
- The Projects capability allows a project leader to determine tasks to be done, assign them to people, and watch the progress of an endeavor.
- Polls and voting allow us to easily manage our internal contests. Yes, we do internal contests.
- An admin can grant different access levels to different people, and can place people in private groups according to department.
For all these reasons, we’ve created bWell Software.
Check it out here: www.bwell.software
Designed by our in-house designers, and built off the dual meanings of the word “well”—bWell is both a place to “come to the well” to catch up and discuss, and also has the goal of keeping our company and our people well.
bWell is extremely customizable for the company that uses it. We help identify what will help a company Be Well, based on your industry, your size, and the way you would use the system. Then we build the intranet around your needs. For us, we included Group Chats, Polls, and Forums for quick discussions on topics, and use the File Manager and HR forms regularly. Starting at $95/month, plus a one-time set-up fee, there are several affordable options.
Want to try a demo?
Request a Demo of bWell to see how this intranet solution would fit your company’s needs. Or Contact Cazarin Interactive for more information on this and our other digital marketing solutions.
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!