PRESENT YOUR BRAND WITH PRIDE

‘What is the fatal flaw that prevents Brand Consistency when it comes to visual posts?’ This question from John Lim (@bemovingforward) whilst promoting my appearance as a guest on his podcast, sparked me to get you an answer. 

With workloads and to do lists as long as an arm, it is no wonder that many of us buckle under the weight and let our guard slip. Especially when it comes to being active within the various social media platforms. It’s understandable that between searching for projects, chasing payments and living a life, etc., something has to give

THE DOWNFALL

Unfortunately, the area in which we should not be lazy is how our Brand is being presented where everyone can see it. I would like to particularly focus on the many platforms where we post articles, blogposts, quotes and much more – yes, it’s none other than on Social Media. 

What is your main focus when it comes to being visible on Social Media? Everyone will yell content at me and they will be correct. Next, I will get bombarded with shouts of engagement and that will be followed by video, I’m sure. None of these are wrong, bad suggestions or irrelevant what so ever. In all honesty, nothing can be any closer to the truth. 

THE FEELING OF DROWNING 

Overwhelmed. Snowed under. Completely buried. Do these sounds like phrases/words that you would use to describe how you feel about Social Media many times? Not uncommon to even experience anxiety about it all. 

The question now is, what are you going to do about it? Or are you actually just going to let it be and you will struggle forth. Moving forward without tackling this issue, is definitely not a great idea. Actually, it is a very bad move on your part. So how can you elevate at least some of the stress?

THE BRICK WALL

For many this is the bit that is the cause of all the angst. Not only because you cannot be bothered about it too much, but for many, because you don’t actually know how to deal with it correctly. I am referring to the visually creative part of your posts.

Not all of us are graphic designers. Neither are we top notch photographers. To be honest, I bet many of you will say ‘I don’t even have a creative bone in my body’ when asked about this topic. 

Not having any inclination towards a creative eye is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Crikey, we are just human. 

I gather the obvious solution that immediately springs to your mind, is that of hiring a professional to look after your Brand Creatives. Easy - issue solved, right? Well, not for wanting to burst your bubble, that is easier said than done. There is one particular issue with that solution: costs. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have funds available so you can reach out to a professional designer and have all your creatives done in a flash. However, if like me, you most likely are counting the pennies carefully before you spend left, right and centre. 

THE HELPING HAND

A solution is at hand that can help to minimise this one section of your media activity. It is within your reach to cast aside your fear of being creative. You don’t have to show the world your inability of creating visuals that do not sit well within the parameters of Social Media platforms. 

Not all platforms have the same criteria when it comes to posting images. Luckily there are some platforms that share the same dimensions for images. If all were the same, then we won’t have any issues. The crux lies within fact that we should be able to post visuals with the correct size. 

It is here where many, in my opinion, show the lack of pride for their Brand. To post the same size image everywhere will show your lack of care and also prevent your visual to not be seen in its entirety. Hence so many times an important thought/section will go unseen purely because it is not visible completely. 

The secret, although not such a big secret at all, is using a very clever application (app). There is one for me that stands out head and shoulders above the rest. 

THE UNCOMPLICATED ASSISTANT

Having a mobile device is order of the day nowadays. It is designed to make our lives easier and to have at hand at all times. The App mentioned above is available on Mobile Devices (via a download from your mobile provider’s choice of store) and on your Desktop (again, to download via your Internet Providers’ choice of store). 

I am referring to the very useful Adobe Spark Post application. Having this handy App(lication) on your device and/or computer will definitely lend a hand when you want to spice up your post with a stunning visual. Very often we come across a thought or quote that we want to share with our audience. We also realise that it will perform so much better if it is accompanied by an image.  We are after all, constantly made aware that platforms favour posts with visuals. 

No need to neglect your wish anymore. Within a few short actions you can rest assure that your visual will be visible to many others the way the chosen platform intend it to be. 

THE TIME TO EXECUTE

Even as a non-creative human using the Adobe Spark Post application is easy. The simple menu layout of options can quickly be navigated to what you have in mind. Here are the options to create an original post if you don’t want to use some of the App’s templates. 

  •  BACKGROUND 

    For this you have 8 options - from using one of your original photos, or a plain colourful background (a Palette lets you keep your Branding in place by adjusting it to your Brand’s colour tones) through to a stock image.   

  •  TEXT

    10 options available which includes a selection of fonts (to keep your Brand consistent with your designated Brand font), colour (to align with your Brand’s look&feel), the size, spacing, opacity and many more. 

  •  LAYOUT

    An abundance of choices if there need to be more than one image within your post visual.

  •  EFFECTS

    To animate certain parts of your visual are at your fingertip (on your mobile device) or your desktop cursor. 

  •  RESIZE

    This option here is where the magic takes place. 35 options at a tap or click to choose from. Each has the Social Media Platform icon so there is not a single moment wasted figuring out which option will fit perfectly. It’s as easy as Bish Bash Bosh! 

These are the basics within the app. The desktop version has a slightly different layout to it all, but the principals are the same. It will honestly not take you long to find your way around and with regular use you will master it in no time. 

THE CONCLUSION

This very helpful app is easily the one mostly in use by yours truly. On numerous times I have used it whilst having a quick coffee on the go or during a commercial break while I am watching some show on TV. There are obviously many similar applications to choose from however, this one is by far my favourite.  

Originally, I had to consult my notes for the exact image dimensions to fit each platform I was creating a visual for. It took time and a lot of messing about to get it right. All of which added up and before you know it, I was wasting way too much time for my liking. We are all aware time is of essence therefor I was delighted to come across something that can not only enhance my visuals, but also cut down on my precious time. All in all, using this shortcut creates not only much satisfaction (for being creative!), it also leaves me with pride as I present my Brand to one and all out there in perfect shape.

Feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you can relate to this post. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

And Thank You for reading.

BOOST YOUR BRANDING

The question is: does Your Branding have any magic? Or to put it differently… does Your Branding have the Unicorn touch?

However peculiar this comparison may sound to you there is a lot of sense within using the Unicorn metaphor within a branding connotation. It’s here where you most likely want me to start explaining, right? 

I was so fascinated by reading a post on the websiteRise Above the Noise by David Brier, that it inspired me to write this post. The man is seriously a genius when it comes to branding. If branding is part and parcel of your existence, then please do yourself a favour and check him out on his site

YOUR EXISTING BRANDING

Let’s set the scene. You personally and/or your company have been branded when you started out. Fact is you are at a point now where you’re not entirely happy with the current status of the branding. You have been tinkering with the idea to do something about it. Perhaps you’ve been made aware about a competitor’s recent re-brand or a Startup that is directly in competition with you that has a much better Brand Look&Feel than yours. 

To tie in with the Unicorn touch mentioned earlier, we can continue metaphorically speaking and suggest that your current branding is very much horse-like – meaning it’s strong, does the job, but lack a certain je ne sais quoi. So, if the thought entered your mind that it is not working that well, then it’s time to put some major sparkle into Your Branding. 

There are many ways to put some sparkle into everyday things in life. For instance, take a weather-bashed garden chair… give it a lick of paint and voilà! Therefore, if it is not that difficult to boost an object and give it some new life, then why not do the same with Your Branding.

A CHANGE IS A GOOD THING

There is that age-old saying a change is as good as a holiday which I’m sure you’ve heard before. Personally, and speaking from experience, I can guarantee you it is true. Applying that wisdom to your current branding is not that difficult. As a matter of fact, it is much easier than you think. You will though need the input from a professional to make the magic happens.

There is, however, a very good reason behind me saying this – and that is that once you’ve updated Your Brand it could easily propel itself to a much higher, influencer level. Your product and/or service will be able to attract much more customers' interest than currently. The outcome could mean the difference between being adequate and incredible. Your company ROI will most likely hit the roof and, as I’m sure you’ll agree, that can only be a great thing all around.

You proud yourself as a savvy business person. You believe you have the vision to move your company forward. Why stop when it comes to how your company is perceived by the big, wide world? 

ADD A SPECIAL TOUCH

This is where you should definitely take a look at David’s presentation and it will make complete sense to you. 

He showcases 14 Brands that he literally transformed into major successful entities. The transformations are amazing. Although I call him The Brand Master, I hope that he will agree it wasn’t rocket science as such what he applied – rather common sense and great thinking, or design, so to speak.

Turning your Horse into a White Creature (aka Unicorn) totally depends and comes down to the magic you inject into your current branding. But where to begin, I hear you ask. 

It starts with: 

  • your logo,

  • then your typography

  • next is your design

  • and finally, the execution (via the website and/or your packaging)

In other words, we’re talking the whole yarn. 

Not suggesting that you should copy your competitors, but I believe doing some in-depth research into what is out there in your niche of business is the order of the day. Take time to look closely at how your peers made changes. Study their thought process and do your best to figure out what they have done to excel ahead of you. Then get going and start the process to add some magic to Your Own Branding. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to stand out from the crowd, or as David says… Rise Above The Noise! 

CONCLUSION

Being a Brand Guardian is one of the aspects of my Entrepreneurial life. Reading and following remarkable people like David is truly inspirational. Whilst reading his astounding post, it made me realise one very important aspect: obviously, I am by no means even close to his level, but the fact that he is so good at what he’s doing doesn’t put me off and want to stop doing what I do. When you are confronted with such insane talent it is really easy to throw in the towel and walks away. Me? Most definitely not. 

I’ve been so intrigued by Mr Brier for some time now, that I have been following him on various social media platforms. He is so consistent with delivery content at a high level that instead of me getting deflated by it all, I find him to be a massive motivation for my journey. I do perceive him as a Virtual Mentor. One can only demand of oneself to aspire to such a high level in time to come. 

Keeping within the Unicorn-theme… only a few days ago, another Virtual Mentor of mine, Winnie Sun, put an incredible post on her Twitter feed. It totally made my head spin and within seconds I had a wonderful imagery in my mind… this is what she posted:

I believe we should all be so proud of our personal and/or business branding, that witnessing what others in our field are doing should spur us on to have even better branding tomorrow than what we’re having today. Do yourself and your team (if you have one) a favour and put some Sparkle Into Your Branding. Make it shimmer & shine and let the branding attracts customers like a moth to a flame. I personally believe we all can do with a bit of magic in our personal lives - the same belief goes for any Company. 

Feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you can relate to this post. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

And Thank You for reading. 

BEING A BRAND GUARDIAN

Are you concerned about how your Brand is being executed? Of course you are. After all, your Brand is the core of your existence as a professional operator within your niche. The question actually should be: ‘Is your Brand safeguarded?’. 

WHAT IS A BRAND GUARDIAN

Even though I had a very good understanding of the role it became even more clear once I read Andrew Vesey’s post in Brand Quarterly. In todays very busy digital market (in particular) it is imperative to make sure your Brand is in line at all times with what your company stands for. This is where a Guardian steps in to make sure all aspects of your Brand are consistent wherever it is represented.

There is no need to stress how tough the competition is out there.  So you better make sure you’re protected. After all, you have insurance for your family, home and even business - why not for your Brand?

WHO NEEDS A BRAND GUARDIAN

In general, companies or SMEs and even individuals are so focussed on starting up and/or running a business that something like their Branding can easily be jeopardised. Therefore your Brand needs to be looked after properly.  Not because you don’t want to do that, but because there are usually a million and one other things that need your attention constantly. 

Take for instance your next upcoming marketing campaign… You most likely are outsourcing all creative elements. Or even if you’re relying on your internal marketing team there will be an element of mishaps or misunderstandings due to the amount of people working on your project. It’s here where you are in need of a Brand Guardian.

WHAT WILL A BRAND GUARDIAN DO

It is someone that will be able to oversee and guide all those involved in your campaign to stay within the parameters of your Brand. To make sure that there is consistency whenever aspects like your logo, your colours, your company’s mission statement, etc. is being used. The importance of stability across a campaign cannot be stressed enough. Your audience needs to able to recognise your Brand at all times.

A Brand Guardian will take care of all visual requirements. Many times external agencies you use undergo changes and even internal teams/freelancers could steer away from being in line purely because of the workload they are expected to deliver. Taking on board a Guardian eliminates this once and for all.

CONSLUSION

What makes an exceptional Brand Guardian, you may ask. Speaking from experience, first and foremost it is the value that will be brought to your table. This is comprised out of: 

  • putting oneself in the client’s shoes

  • extraordinary eye for detail

  • positive frame of mind

  • proven outstanding management skills

  • delivers successful end results

Followed closely by: a high level of effective Solutions to fulfil your expectations, being known for a People’s Person to make sure everybody is up-to-date with the latest developments, creating you a Brand Book with guidelines and instructions.  Ultimately, someone to Enhance and Secure your Brand. 

From knowledge, being at hand as a Guardian has been proven to cause much more help than hinder.  As a mentor and coach many opportunities have risen to assist, help and guide clients to have a consistent Brand. The strong believe here is that your Brand should be fully in order whenever you step out into the world

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

LET’S DO IT LIVE

Ever felt like extending your brand? There are many ways to enhance your professional identity. One way in particular is to lend a hand at Live Events. There is something very exciting about events. Most probably because when it all kicks off it is Live. From then until the end anything can happen. Of course fingers are crossed all along for everything to go as planned without any gremlins jumping in and course havoc.

Very recently the opportunity came about to assist with a Charity Ball in London. Without a nano second of hesitation it was agreed to add the brand development touch to this event.

THE VENUE

The location was in one of London’s superb landmarks: The Savoy Hotel on the North Bank of the Thames River. With areas like Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square a stone throw away it basically is in the heart of London.

This venue is nothing new since a fair amount of events have been arranged and/or attended there in the past. However, it is always great to step into the splendour of this establishment. From the exterior through the revolving doors into the plush interior one feels almost elevated. There is the feeling of being transferred into another world even if it means the world you step into is that of the rich and famous. Walls are plastered with stunning black and white photographs of legends like film stars and politicians. These date back decades. Just an indication that this iconic venue has seen it all. And will most certainly see more in the times to come.

THE SET UP

The hotel’s Ball Room was the chosen area for the night. It all started early in the morning with equipment arriving and crews starting to set up. There was going to be a live show with famous talent at the end of the evening. Quite a bunch of very friendly, professional and organised people started to set up the stage, plug this that and the other cables into big, electronic machinery. Microphones were being set up, tested and adjusted. Instruments were placed in precise spots on the stage and before you know it the stage was set. The only missing ingredients were musicians, backing vocals and of course the star of the show.

Setting up the entertainment side of the event is obviously only one part of the day’s procedures. While that was happening a total of 32 round tables were being prepared. Each will hold 10 guests which needed every possible piece of cutlery, crockery and glasses. Sparkling white, starched table cloths and napkins were placed perfectly and was accompanied by buffed silverware, glassware and shiny porcelain. There is always the need for a centre piece - and for this event there was no exception.  Flower arrangements were going to be the pièce de résistance on the night. Nothing outrageous and too big, but elegant enough to make an impact and still let guests see each other across the table and talk the night away. Obviously the colour scheme of the charity's brand was extended into the chosen flora. 

Behind the scenes, or more appropriately called The Kitchen, chefs and staff were busy with preparations for a delightful meal. There was a lot of chopping, stirring and trays going in and coming out of ovens. The activities were in full swing to feed a few hundred people. The menu was tasted and agreed on before hand so all that was left to do is prepare and eventually serve up. 

THE EVENT

Before you knew it, the doors opened to welcome elegant guests. Men in Black Tie and women sporting Ball Gowns were order of the night. Soon the room was filled with people, laughter and a great atmosphere. The serious side of the night, an auction, was taking place in between the servings of delicious food. The main point of the event was to raise money for the charity. Left, right and centre people dug deep into their wallets and a phenomenal amount of money was raised. Once the singer/songwriter performed his last song while all the guests were standing and dancing, it was revealed that the immediate amount raised extended well into 6 figures. All in all a major successful evening. 

AND THEN... GOOD NIGHT

Not bad for a day’s work. Fairly exhausted, but happy, one flops down on a plush hotel room bed in the early hours of the morning.  A good night’s sleep is now on the cards. Nothing is more exciting knowing that once again the client is happy. Not only with the amount of money raised, but with the execution of their event too. 

Back home, it’s time now to write that follow up email. Perhaps the reply will include another date for another event… fingers crossed.

 

SHOW YOUR TRUE COLOURS

Take a look around you - what do you see? Well, a multiple of objects I reckon. Most importantly, even without taking much notice, you see colours. An abundance of them everywhere. 

How do you go about choosing which colours to use for your business? Do you settle on some because they are your favourites? Or because someone suggested particular ones since you always wear it or it forms part of your home decorations? The important fact here is to take note that there are much more than colours than only liking them.

EMOTION

It’s long been know that certain colours evoke certain emotions within us. When we do find ourselves in surroundings that is predominantly one colour we do feel somehow different. We may not realise it there and then, but when you leave that place a certain emotion could easily hang around and influence you - or rather your subconscious. From spending time being surrounded by i.e. the colour orange, you could easily walk away feeling happy and cheerful. 

REACTION

There are also times that you wear a specific colour and feel that others around you treat you slightly different this time. Even though it is your trusted circle of friends/family, there is a notion within you that something is slightly different today. Similarly when you attend a function or event - perhaps all the officials at the event are wearing red shirts. From the moment you entered the room and was greeted by someone in red, you seem to have energy and being excited (more than expected) to attend. As you are confronted by a sea of red your energy level rises to an extend that you walk away praising the event and even promise to return next year. 

FAMILIARITY

You do have a favourite colour, don’t you? So why is it your favourite? Purely because since childhood/teenage years your bedroom walls were covered in it? Could it be that the specific colour evoke the feeling of comfort and ease? Quite possibly because you can relate to it. Even if you are quite a few years older by now you may still feel affinity towards your childhood favourite albeit the tone has changed a lot since you’re more grown up by now. Still, the basic colour is the same though. I bet my 13 year old god daughter will still have a passion for reddish colours years from now. It will remind her of exciting times spend in her red bedroom as a child.

YOUR BUSINESS - YOUR MESSAGE

When it comes to business the above mentioned topics should be your guideline in how you want to be portrait by customers and clients alike. Hence the reason it is very important to think clearly and objectively about which colours to use in your profession. Colours will say a lot about not only your business etiquette, but also the identity of your brand. 

Be very clever in making this choice. Have a good understanding of your brand before you start the process of creating a logo or adding colour to your font/typeface. You need to figure out what emotion you want to wake up in potential customers. Make sure you know how you want your clients to react when they enter your showroom/saw your logo. Very importantly you need to research your audience/market and make them feel comfortable when dealing with your service or using your product. 

At the end of the day the colours you decide on should create a feeling within potential customers and clients that make them notice your business. To stand out from a crowd nowadays is not an easy task, but you need to push hard so that you do get noticed. Link your tagline to the subconscious signals your colours send to clients. Bring it all together and form a strong bond with those that you want to attract to your business. And one of the best ways to do this is to pick 2 or 3 emotions from the colour emotion chart above that represent your business attitude and I’m sure you’ll be well on your way to attract the correct crowd. 

 

IF YOU’VE GOT IT FLAUNT IT

Have you got what it takes to stand out from the crowd? Did you keep something up your sleeve all year long only so you can show off at this time of the year? No better examples of a ‘show-and-tell’ than some well known store displays.

Reading this piece by PSKF on the best ‘dressed’ retail windows in New York City over the festive period made me happy. There are truly some incredible, creative minds out there. The masterminds behind these displays rock the streets of NYC with a big bang.  

Needles to say competition is, has and will always be tough. However, that is most likely the drive behind the mind of a genius. To strive to be better and bigger is easily a constant thought in the head of a designer or creator of visual excellence. And there is no element of disappointment when you look at these displays that lit up the NYC streets of late. 

Managing their brand identity is at the forefront of today’s retail environment. It is obvious that each brand need to make their mark and be so eye-catching that the person in the street can’t help but stop and stare. The display is there to do just that to you. Once you have been forced to stop, stand and look the first battle is won. The next step (so to speak!) is hopefully towards the entrance and then go inside. 

The part that is the exciting bit is making people watch in awe, I believe. This is the moment one has created such an vision that the onlooker  find it difficult not to notice. The time and energy spend working out how this can be done forms part of the incredible creative journey. It is tough… it is time consuming… it is fulfilling. Even if the whole trip leaves you exhausted, every second of it is worth it.

From a personal POV these displays are amazing. Capturing the pure essence of each brand and making sure that it is a ‘killer-look’ display - to me the determination of each to make sure they are noticed. Even though it happens year after year it is always something new - something exciting.

It made me think… how about seeing this for real again? Maybe one could be walking the NYC streets oneself next year this time. Maybe one will stop, stand and stare. Maybe this trip to the magical NYC should be added to GOALS2016…

COMMERCIAL BRANDING DURING THE FESTIVE SEASON

Has another year gone by? Is it that time of the year again? Judging by the fall in temperatures and darkened early evening skies in the northern hemisphere we can safely say ‘yes’ to that question!

With the festive season upon us and Christmas decorations going up everywhere it’s not just time for families and friends to get together and plan a feast, but also time for brands (local and internationally) to step up their campaign strategies and start the battle to win the ‘top spot of the season’ in the advertising world. There are clear trend setters in the world showing us every year how creative they can get. The messages these short films send out are usually made to tuck on our heart strings and get our emotions moving. In my opinion most, if not all, are usually winners. 

                         Someone's lucky day is coming...

This year though I stumbled across a great piece of work from Spain - a country which I love - being it mainland or Balearic Islands. As a true lover of ‘all things Spanish’ I was delighted when I saw the Christmas Lottery commercial - the ‘Anuncio Loteria de Navidad’. I know about this special lottery event since I visited Barcelona many times in the run up to Christmas. It is an event that grip the nation and even if one is not Spanish and have little Spanish vocabulary it is not rocket science to figure out how important this event is for the Spaniards. There are many kiosks all over the place that sells tickets. And if you are lucky enough to be in town a few days or so before Christmas you will witness the queues buying some ‘numbers’ in hope they have the winning combination.

This year the lottery has a remarkable advertisement that is created very crafty and is very imaginative. Not only is the story very touching it is also executed beautifully. The style in which the creativity enfolds is superb. With enormous time spend on details within every frame it also is colourful and you find yourself smiling occasionally. It obviously won’t be as good as it is if you don’t get emotionally involved. Here the creators took time to make sure you follow the story behind the main character Justino’s everyday life. The build up to the end makes you want to fast forward quickly to see the outcome yet it also prevent you from clicking those double-arrows since Justino’s story is so compelling. The end, needless to say, is pure jubilation! 

Anuncio Loteria de Navidad’ leaves you with a warm, happy feeling. Even if there is a hint of a tear in your eye you will soon be overcome with merry emotions. All in all the perfect Christmas ‘heart-string-tucker’ for me! 

Feliz Navidad to one and all… or Merry Christmas in the universal language of the world!