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  • Hashtag: finding the right # for your brand

    A hashtag the metadata tag prefaced by the hash (or pound) sign, #. Hashtags alive and well in microblogging, photo-sharing on TikTok, Twitter or Instagram as a form of user-generated tagging that enables cross-referencing of content by topic or theme. The key, though, is making sure you're using them properly. The main reason why social media users, including businesses looking to boost their online presence, use hashtags is to increase visibility and support their branding efforts. But all that being said, you need to choose the “right” hashtag to REACH your brand’s most relevant audience. Sometimes using the most popular hashtags isn’t the right approach. in 2022 according to IG (Instagram) the top 10 hashtags were: #love (1.835B) #instagood (1.150B) #fashion (812.7M) #photooftheday (797.3M) #beautiful (661.0M) #art (649.9M) #photography (583.1M) #happy (578.8M) #picoftheday (570.8M) #cute (569.1M) and on Linked in you can add 1. # investing 2. # personaldevelopment BUT are these YOU BRAND’S NICHE? To find hashtags that are specific to your brand, your industry, and your audience, you’ll have to do a little research. First gather intel about your competitors and any relevant influencers within your brand’s niche. Take note of which hashtags they use most often and how many hashtags they use in each of their posts. This will help you learn how your competitors are engaging with your shared target audience and which keywords they tend to use. Use some of the hashtag tools to help point you in the right direction. Trending Hashtags: Social Listening Hashtags: Related Hashtags: DON’T get hashtag crazy. Be careful though, Instagram recommends only using 3-5 hashtags per post. Using over used hashtags can also hurt your reach as y9u will get lost in the sea of hash-tagging overuse. TikTok 3-5, Twitter 2, LinkedIn 1-5, Pinterest 2-5. One big mistake many clients make is creating their own hashtag that has no pull. Test your # before you commit to it. Did it pull up trending material that matches your brand? Did it pull up nothing? Did it pull up something you do not want to be associated with? Researching the right # hashtag is as important as your brand strategy. Happy # hash tagging.

  • BE authentic

    In a world overflowing with social media and digital growth what will make your brand stand out? Will you join in on the newest TikTok rage? Create content because everyone else is doing it? Or will you keep your brand current and creatively authentic? Your audience is tech-savvy and research oriented, they respect … no they demand … genuine, credible, trustworthy and authentic brand experiences. One step outside that authentic experience and you may find your messaging tossed into the clutches of ad blockers and anti-spam filters so that your messages are never seen / heard again. So remember when posting, blogging, printing or just making the news … BE transparent BE consistent BE authentic Your brand will thank you and your customers will respect you.

  • Logos, Pixels and Vectors ... Oh My!

    One of the biggest issues I see is a client who doesn’t have their vector logo. When asked for their logo they give a jpg or png that has over time become so pixelated it is going to look horrible and is practically useless. Logo should always be created in a vector format and all those other “types” of logos created from your original vector logo. WHAT ARE ALL THESE TYPES OF LOGO FILES and WHY DO I NEED THEM You may never use some of these files BUT you must keep all of them safe and sound as part of your marketing materials. NEVER EVER trash your .ai file. It is the most important file your designer will give you, treat it like gold because. It is the DNA of your logo. Adobe Illustrator (AI) The .ai file type is the rawest of raw. It’s the file containing the original lines in a controllable and modifiable format in various layers. From this center point, all of the other file types are exported. A vector file is file made up of lines. Those lines never get pixelated and are able to be scaled to any size no matter how big or small. Uses: Designing and printing Exporting to high-quality file types PDF This is the file format most often requested by print shops. The PDF reigns king as a vector file format. Note: the PDF has to be saved from a vector program to be a true vector PDF. If you save a PDF from Photoshop (and they aren’t vector shapes), it will still get pixelated when it hits the print shop. Uses: Logos Marketing materials High-quality document printing EPS The EPS was the PDFs predecessor. Nowadays, this format is dying off and is mostly reserved for old vector graphics using the format. You’re able to export EPSs from Adobe Illustrator, but I don’t recommend using it as a viable file type unless you hear differently from a printer. Uses: Back ups (use a PDF as your first choice) some printers may ask for it. SVG SVGs are amazing file types for website design. You should use SVG for your graphic/iconic elements on your website. Being a vector format, these will scale infinitely without pixelation, which comes in handy for cross-device quality control. And also, they’re extremely lightweight in file size, which will make them load faster. I’m talking the low kilobyte range. You can also leverage SVGs for advanced functionality. Uses: Website graphic or iconic elements Advanced graphics modified by CSS in website design (You most likely won’t utilize this file type unless you’re working with websites. For printing purposes, stick with PDF.) USE PIXEL FILES ONLY FOR WEBSITES AND SOCIAL PLATFORMS You’ll utilize these file types most prominently on websites and platforms (social media, profiles, etc.) JPG Of all the pixel file types, JPGs carry the smallest file sizes. When it comes to website design, file size matters. Anything over 800kb is too big to be placed on a website page and will slow down page load. Slow page load equals less search-engine optimization (SEO) power, as well as a higher bounce rate (people getting impatient and leaving). The image bannering this blog post is a light-weight JPG. A JPG is easily able to losslessly compress large files with a high-quality output. This means the file size is small and lean, but the final product is gorgeous. Other website graphics (logos, designed items) are up in the air. If you export the graphic with the highest-quality possible, you’ll most likely be OK. Just make sure the file size isn’t to big. Note: JPGs don’t support transparent backgrounds. Some graphics might require this capability which is best served by PNGs. Also, if using these, make sure the file size is correct and the resolution is at least 300 dpi. Uses: Photo files Photo-related assets on a website (like this blog post’s banner/hero image) Some graphics Nevers: Never ever send a JPG file to be printed for any marketing material (business cards, brochures, etc.) Never ever rely on JPGs as your “raw” file standard. Every single time a JPG is saved, it loses quality and compresses itself. Somewhere down the road, you might end up with an incredibly pixelated file and there’s no way back. PNG Portable Network Graphics (PNGs) are high-quality file formats. The biggest advantage that they offer for online usage is their transparent backgrounds. This makes them ideal for usage on websites where a transparent background is required (as long as they aren’t too large). Another key advantage of the PNG is that it’s a lossless quality file. This means that it won’t get grainy or blurred when uploaded or utilized (like pixelated file types). Note: to properly export a PNG, make sure the file dimensions are large enough and that the resolution is set to at least 300 dpi. Uses: Website graphics requiring a transparent background Pro Tip: Use this file type for social media profile graphics (because they won’t lose their quality upon upload like JPGs so often do) GIF GIFs are similar to PNGs. They support transparent backgrounds and don’t lose their quality. The main difference is that GIFs support basic animations. Uses: Animated images/graphics

  • Branding with color, why it isn’t a black and white decision.

    Choosing the right colors for your brand image is a matter of psychology. Have you ever wondered why most fast food uses reds and yellows as their main colors? Maybe not but your brain made a psychologically connection. The color red has been shown to stimulate appetite which is why fast food uses reds and yellows. You have heard the saying that in business “image is everything”. That includes your color palette and picking the wrong colors ca hurt if not destroy the perception of your brand. Here is a quick reveal of what color means to a brand. The Psychology of the Color Red From Target to Netflix, Red strikes a chord with the psyche. Positive associations: Power Passion Energy Fearlessness Strength Excitement Negative associations: Anger Danger Warning Defiance Aggression Pain The Psychology of the Color Orange From Home Depot to Nickelodeon, orange stimulates the eye, conjuring up feelings of excitement, enthusiasm, and fun. Positive associations: Courage Confidence Warmth Innovation Friendliness Energy Negative associations: Deprivation Frustration Frivolity Immaturity Ignorance Sluggishness The Psychology of the Color Yellow From McDonalds to Post-It, yellow is a considered to be a cheerful color, but used too widely it can conger up feelings of anger and anxiety. Positive associations: Optimism Warmth Happiness Creativity Intellect Extraversion Negative associations: Irrationality Fear Caution Anxiety Frustration Cowardice The Psychology of the Color Green From Starbucks to the Girl Scouts green is seen as pleasing and calming. Positive associations: Health Hope Freshness Nature Growth Prosperity Negative associations: Boredom Stagnation Envy Blandness Enervation Sickness The Psychology of the Color Turquoise From Pampers to Siemens turquoise is often found in brands centered on communication, including education and computer technology. Positive associations: Communication Clarity Calmness Inspiration Self-expression Healing Negative associations: Boastfulness Secrecy Unreliability Reticence Fence-sitting Aloofness The Psychology of the Color Blue From Intel to Ford blue it is one of the most trusted colors of corporate logos because it evokes calming, clarity and communication. It is a color we find all around us from the sky above to the oceans and lakes. Positive associations: Trust Loyalty Dependability Logic Serenity Security Negative associations: Coldness Aloofness Emotionless Unfriendliness Uncaring Unappetizing The Psychology of the Color Purple From Yahoo to Hallmark purple is the color of royalty, wealth, luxury, and sophistication. Positive associations: Wisdom Luxury Wealth Spirituality Imaginative Sophistication Negative associations: Introversion Decadence Suppression Inferiority Extravagance Moodiness The Psychology of the Color Magenta From T-Mobil to Barbie pink is brings support, kindness, compassion and is associated with feelings of self-respect. Positive associations: Imaginative Passion Transformation Creative Innovation Balance Negative associations: Outrageousness Nonconformity Flippancy Impulsiveness Eccentricity Ephemeralness The Psychology of the Color Brown From UPS to M&Ms Brown is the color of reliability. Brown is the color of the dirt beneath our feet it keeps us grounded. Positive associations: Seriousness Warmth Earthiness Reliability Support Authenticity Negative associations: Humorlessness Heaviness Lack of sophistication Sadness Dirtiness Conservativeness The Psychology of the Color Black From Apple to Sony black is the total absorption of all color. Black is a symbol of power. It is a barrier color: it absorbs energy and enshrouds the personality. Positive associations: Sophistication Security Power Elegance Authority Substance Negative associations: Oppression Coldness Menace Heaviness Evil Mourning The Psychology of the Color Gray From Mercedes-Benz to Wikipedia pure gray is the one color that’s been shown to have no dominant psychological characteristic but can be used as sophistication in luxury brands. Positive associations: Timelessness Neutrality Reliability Balance Intelligence Strength Negative associations: Lack of confidence Dampness Depression Hibernation Lack of energy Blandness The Psychology of the Color White From Chanel to NIKE the color white embodies all color and is the reflection and absence symbolizing innocence and purity. It implies a blank slate. Positive associations: Cleanness Clarity Purity Simplicity Sophistication Freshness Negative associations: Sterility Coldness Unfriendliness Elitism Isolation Emptiness Your brand’s visual identity strongly influences how the world perceives your company. Color is one of the most essential components of your visual identity. Choose a color that is authentic to your brand, embodies your brand personality, appeals to your audience, and differentiates your company from the competition is one of the best ways to create a powerful and meaningful visual identity. Which color is right for your brand?

  • Socially Relevant Branding

    So you want to get social with your brand? First make sure you are using the platform to your brand’s advantage. Lots of companies do not understand the pull a brand can have on social media and make the mistake of using it as a calendar of events or an unwanted task that aunt Betty can take care of in her spare time. Social media is a place to build a brand’s voice. You want your social media to speak to the consumer’s heart and head. And consistency is the key. It is true that social media can look like the wild west but if your social page doesn’t have a consistent theme that speaks to your audience and makes them want and need to see your next post you’re doing it wrong. Go look at some of the companies that “GET” social right. Here is one example. Dove: Dove showcases images and videos of women from all walks of life with various skin tones to prove that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. They aim to help every woman feel confident in her skin by breaking down harmful stereotypes and unrealistic expectations. Message – Dove is committed to helping all women realize their personal beauty potential by creating products that deliver real care. Vision – Dove believes that beauty should be for everyone, because when you look and feel your best, you feel better about yourself. Be a Social Success and stand out from your competition by standing above it with: Clear goals for every post you publish – on every platform. Consistently and frequently engage with your audience and followers. Sharing more user-generated content, featuring consumers as the heroes in your stories and promotions. Get creative and innovative. Create campaigns that are meaningful and authentic that translate to be powerful, inspirational, and relatable. Use your Brand Voice: a consistent tone, style, photography, designs, and branding in your posts and across different platforms. Provide value over promoting your products or services. Now go to the party, get social and make friends.

  • Branding for Tangible ROI

    Two coffee cups walk into a bar … One cup gets star treatment. Joe, great to see you again! What can I get for YOU today? The other coffee cup gets ignored. What happened there? Return On Investment …. The “star” treatment was given to the well branded cup called Starbucks. Both cups are “just coffee”, a commodity… the difference is one cup is “branded” and has immediate recognition as something special. Let’s look closer Starbucks Mission and Vision Statement Mission – “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Vision – to “treat people like family, and they will be loyal and give their all.” So when the cup with the famous crowned mermaid icon walked into that bar … they were immediately recognized as a “trusted friend”. That is well crafted branding and design at work. Nothing needed to be said, no elevator pitch because the cup had invested in “branding” and the ROI was rolling in: Loyalty, Trust, Differentiation, Positioning, Clarity. Branding is a well spent piece to your ROI. Have you invested in your brand recently?

  • vision + values = VOICE – What's your voice, SPEAK UP!

    Every brand needs to find their true voice, their real identity. You can’t be everything to everyone so stop trying. Your mission and vision statement should hold the key to your real identity and the building blocks to everything your company creates, says, and does. A mission statement defines your reason for existing. It embodies the philosophies, goals, ambitions, and social values of your organization. A mission Statement answers three key questions: WHAT you do. WHO you do it for. HOW you do it. A vision statement is inspirational, think of a desired future state of being, what is your hope for your long-term achievements? A Vision statement should be: SHORT SIMPLE SPECIFIC to your business and leave nothing open to interpretation A few great samples of successful Mission + Vision Statements. APPLE Mission – Bringing the best user experience to its customers through innovative hardware, software and services. Vision – We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that’s not changing. TESLA Mission – To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Vision – To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles. LINKEDIN Mission – To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Vision – to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. What’s your voice? SPEAK UP.

  • Branding: the why, how and what that makes it all work

    Defined your brand is that gut feeling, that reaction someone has when your business' name is mentioned. It is the WHY you went into business. It isn't what you sell or how you sell it. It is the WHY, the story, the vision, the promise and purpose that defines you. The how and what come after the WHY. The why is what will build loyalty to your business or service. There is a great quote by Maya Angelou that nails branding on the head. "At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel."

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