Tag: brand

30
Aug

3 Things I Learned from My Recent Failure

Every failure feels like a crushing defeat that makes me question my self-worth and purpose. While I desired to wear multiple hats, meet every request, and bring a success, my toolset is incomplete and my skill across all disciplines is far from mastery. I can be chef and sous chef and wait tables, but that dilutes my genius. Attempting to focus on my strengths, I was asked to “stretch” and I agreed. In this effort, I could not reach far enough fast enough—though I gave my all in every attempt.

The course-corrections taken did not lead to smooth sailing. Resources were slim to none and new demands came on so strong, it was like drinking from a fire hose. I kept trying … and I will continue to seek the most productive outcome in every endeavor… still, I have not met with the delight of complete satisfaction.

Sometimes when you try to be and do everything, you become nothing, or a lot less than all.

However, when asked to step up to the plate, you gotta give it all ya got! Especially with a startup gig. The rush to get on base often requires concurrent planning and execution. Stutter steps happen along the way as the path becomes clarified and players come in and out of the game.

My “lane” is the strategic development. I create the brand plan—and the client team implements it. Areas for possible trip-ups include that there isn’t complete buy-in and there aren’t resources for implementation. Both of these bumps were present on this path, along with other challenges.

Still, when working for the vision, it is tough to realize disappointment. The victories drive action while defeat deflates momentum. I can only own my role — the few ways I could make a stronger player.

There were moments of victory. The joy of accomplishment fed my spirit till the next shoe fell behind in the race to forge ahead. When the brand plan was embraced and approved, things looked promising. And then there were the “squirrels” and distractions. Clients often desire to refresh the look before it takes hold. They want variety for the sake of amusement—not for the efficacy of impression. And, in the end, the client is always right. I can only create the plan, get approval, and remind them to stay on plan. When it is insisted to veer, I can only attempt to redirect traffic. And, often, I did.

I dared and I fell short of desired results. It would be tempting to come up with a single reason that things didn’t work out. But it isn’t that simple. And I must wrestle with, scrutinize, and learn from every misstep—as well as the few successes along the way. Perhaps I shall awaken to a new calling—all I know is that I’m trying to find my way. Here are the key takeaways from this unanswered prayer.

FIRST, make sure there is a PLAN.

If there is no plan, then there are only two choices. One is to create a plan and two is to walk away. I accepted an invitation to assist with marketing and branding projects for a startup in transition. There was a website, there was a business structure that was being revised for multiple entities — The Icon, The NonProfit Organization, The ForProfit Organization.

There was no plan. No vision. No mission. No strategy. At least, nothing in writing. Nothing shared. Here I offered to craft a short-term solution but the priority was set otherwise. I should have insisted on that being created or established in writing before proceeding. Instead, I took the carrot and ran with the project and its evolving particulars.

Thus, when I agreed to create a brand strategy for The Icon, it was an effort that stood alone and actually would be expected to lead all other actions. However, I was not in a position to be a leader in the developing organization structure, and there was no staff on board in the organization(s) to lead.

This leads to, SECOND, make sure there is staff or PERSONNEL to assist with execution. 

After attempting to bring in colleagues to flesh out the talent pool, and realizing personality conflicts with the client, I made the mistake of attempting to fly solo and find resources along the way. I was in charge of developing the overall strategy for The Icon brand, however, it became clear that there was no implementation team. While there was an intention to assemble and hire a team, there was not a network in place.  

Wanting to bring my “superpowers” and to realize success for the project, I took on the tasks of implementation across platforms that, strategically, required being revised, updated, or created. I spread myself too thin and I employed my adequate but not masterful skills of design, webmaster, leader, and etc to attempt translating the brand strategy across marketing efforts. I called for help and called out the gaps. Some were filled. Others remained gaping.

It was a disaster at best. The issues were many-fold. Time ticked away at its unforgiving pace and I was losing efficiency bouncing from one last-minute priority to another as deadlines flew in my face like pixels in a video game. People came in the fold for a while — for instance, a woman stepped up to take charge of social media — and the relief of assistance was further taxed by the need to train and align them. 

For this, I created a plan — the Social Media Strategy was developed to assist brand presentation across Facebook and YouTube. From distinguishing a Profile from a Page and then concurrently creating a Celebrity Page on top of the existing NonProfit Organization Page plus planning for an eCommerce Page for exquisite items in the warehouse, this effort quickly scaled beyond reach. And, then the social media manager left the building.

With my hands full, I failed to pick up the threads and weave them into place, and I realized there was no clear path for reconciling all the loose ends. There was nowhere to turn.

So my last major key lesson is, THIRD, make sure there is a PROCESS—or that there are many processes—in place to support success. 

Key processes include Defining, Supporting, and Reporting. The reporting structure needs clear definition so that attention can be brought to the weaknesses and shortfalls in order to thwart disaster. In the changing business structures, the Board of Directors members revolved in and out of the organization, and then disappeared. The one consistent Director traveled for work and was not a businessman so had little efficacy in leading the pack, though he took responsibility for funding all.

Expectations were often unclear and the scope of work changed during each project. I created and executed a series of Social Media posts that were determined to be off-brand after the fact — so I deleted all of them. Getting aligned was difficult and getting approvals was even more difficult. All input and feedback came from The Icon, who really should not have been bothered with such detail, and yet there was nowhere else to turn.

A process for defining the details including deadlines and every duty would assist progress to the plan. And a system of support is critical. Weekly meetings would veer off agenda so effective review didn’t happen and next steps were not certainly determined. I failed to create a place to give shared visibility to all so that changing dates and demands would be communicated undeniably and in a timely fashion. 

I failed to uphold “no” when demands grew beyond my ability to stretch. I failed to “stop” and regroup to ensure alignment and support. I failed to find a way to voice requirements for success in a way that would capture attention and yield success that was better than haphazard. “Step up!” it was commanded. Get ‘er done! Then, even the victories got lost in the fog of let down.

I couldn’t dissuade the escalation of activity so disappointment was the way. This won’t be my experience next time, not at the next opportunity.

And a bonus key comes to mind; FOURTH, make sure you are a fit, PERSONALLY.

Camaraderie and cohesion aid accomplishment. While I met weekly with The Icon, I rarely felt heard. While I respect and revere the position of The Icon, I worked to remain objective. I did not find a way to drink the kool-aid and still serve in my hired role. Keeping out of the grey area meant keeping out of the cultural current. I attended a couple events to get to know the energy of The Icon’s work, as direct experience assists understanding and the ability to message it. Still, I felt it important to serve in my role rather than be served by The Icon. I stayed on the sidelines, in my lane of hired hand.

So again, perhaps I am not a fit in this as I see the newly hired full-time staff immerse themselves in the flow while taking on challenges full force. Or perhaps this is the plight of a contractor vs an employee — always on the outside looking in.

While I am drawn to The Icon and the work, I have a perspective of an observer and I keep my personal boundaries with great care. It is, perhaps, not the best alignment for this particular client. With full-time staff on board, there is a new direction emerging. So be it. I will hang on to the glimpses of achievement in the sea of simultaneous engineering this startup went through. Growing pains. Awkward like adolescence. Now taking off to experience the next stage of expansion.

My goal is to learn from this adventure in failure. To hone my strengths and shore up my weaknesses. And, one day, the people who doubt me will be the ones who talk about the one day when they met me. I might even be one of them.

I should have declined projects when we discussed that I was the wrong person for the detail work. It was out of alignment with my skill set. When asked to step up, I did. I should have said no. Still, some things went well. Overall it was disappointing. In trying to be everything, I was reduced to nothing.

15
Feb

Set Up Social Media Success in 6 Simple Steps

Social media doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it can be your best sales associate and your favorite marketing tactic. The key is to focus so you don’t get overwhelmed. It all begins with your message. Here are five steps to go from strategy to scheduled for social media success.

#1 Create Your Social Media Strategy.

For your Brand, you have a strategy. Now, align that with Social Media. Determine your niche—your target audience. Consider pain points and interests; and your solution for them. People seek solutions and benefits!

Brand strategy is a long-term plan for development to achieve specific goals. It is your playbook. Goals, strategies and tactics are outlined to give you a game plan.

Your brand is not your product, your logo, your website, or your name. It is much more than that. It is tangible and intagible, purpose driven, mission focused attributes that are your reason for being. It’s a feeling that separates powerful versus mediocre brands.

Your brand strategy considers:

1. Your industry & design trends
2. Your ideal client’s desires
3. Your brand personality

Distinguish your brand — how do you differentiate yourself and speak to your audience in a way that attracts them? There are many ways to give your brand a personality. From your logo and colors to tone of voice, messaging must align with your audience while remaining consistent in delivery style. Imagine your brand talking with one customer. And then, replicate that conversation consistently in the marketplace. This is where the social media strategy comes in.

Now, create a plan for social media that addresses your target audience where they are. Design a communication and messaging strategy to deliver information that is helpful to them and of interest. Relate to other topics that they are engaging with across platforms.

Check out this article of interest — Perfecting the four P’s.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Know what makes you different from your competition.
  2. Define your target audience and the solution you provide.
  3. Translate this to your Social Media strategy.

#2 Choose Your Social Media Platform(s).

You aren’t required to be on every Social Media platform to be successful. Pick one, possibly two to start. Avoid overwhelm!

In the beginning, fewer and BETTER is the focus. Facebook is the logical first choice for most brands. Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or YouTube are strong second choices, depending on your niche.

With Facebook, create your personal Profile then set up your Business Page. From quotes to images to video, you can dominate presence in your niche. Facebook Live amplifies the possibilites. You can benefit from low cost, highly targeted Facebook Ads to generate leads and build your list.

Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest along with LinkedIn and YouTube are great online real estate for your message. Your strategy will assit you in selecting the one or two places to start so that you speak to your tribe and align with your message.

To get a feel for the social media channels, check out this article of interest — Social Media at a Glance.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Set your goals — what you aim to accomplish.
  2. Select the Platforms you will use to START.
  3. Set up your social media sites.

#3 Curate and Create Your Content.

Develop an Editorial Plan to guide your content with purpose. And then you can repurpose the information across your social media channels. This reinforces your presence.

Create a calendar — three, six, nine, or 12 months out. For each month, brainstorm themes and then topics within that theme that would be of interest to your audience. Look at information that will establish you as the “Go To” person in your arena.

Choose themes and topics so you can weave information from one post to another. Look at the map of content so you know what you are sharing each and every day. Content can easily be “re-purposed” and used in a variety of ways, and across multiple platforms.

For more insights, check out this article — Repurpose Key Twitter Posts.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Brainstorm content theme ideas.
  2. Outline topics of interest to your niche.
  3. Create a 30 day content editorial calendar.

#4 Create a Series of Messages.

Now comes all the write stuff. Tailor the words to fit the channel. A blog post can be pulled apart for fodder you can upload to Twitter or Facebook. Specific messages can be developed for each channel and your audience there. If you desire assistance with this, let me know.

Now, get going. Check out this article of interest — Pretty Perfect.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Write your message(s).
  2. Develop content tailored to each channel.
  3. Consider quotes that align with your message.

#5 Select Message Visuals.

There are a number of ways to deliver information—your brand strategy will assist you in selecting the style(s) best suited to your message.

Photos; Infographics; Videos (Live and Native); Blog Posts and Original Articles by you; White Papers; Blogs and Useful Articles by other thought leaders in your niche who do not compete. Make Video a priority as it gets the MOST engagement!

Once you determine the style of information delivery, create your content. Outline it. Find photos and images to add impact. Consider using Piktochart or Canva to create images and infographs. Look at Notegraphy for creating impact with your words. And, find free photos and images at Pixabay.

Check out this article of interest — A Picture Worth 1000 Words.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Consider your brand image and align visuals with that.
  2. Create your message visuals.
  3. Develop content across visual media.

#6 Schedule It.

Effective Social Media Marketing can be done in 30 minutes a day when you have a plan and you WORK that plan.

You can use tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your posts in advance. This puts your social media presence on autopilot.

Check out this article of interest — Storytelling and the 3 T’s.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Schedule posts for 30 days—consider Hootsuite or Buffer.
  2. Check in every day for 30 minutes to boost activity and interact with your tribe.
  3. Share posts from others who attract your niche.

Define your brand strategy and your message. Choose which delivery method will be best for your message. Make a list of themes and topics of interest. Create your content. And schedule it.

Congratulations! You now have the steps required to command Social Media and dominate your niche for business awareness, lead generation, client contact, and nutured relationships that lead to SALES! For assistance in creating your content, get in touch with me.

25
Sep

3 Pillars for Boosting Memory

It is important to remember names, recall your grocery list, give your elevator pitch, or to be able to recite your speech.

Learning is remembering. —Socrates

From a seminar by Jim Kwik of Kwik Learning, here are three pillars of memory to help you boost your ability to remember.

M. Motivation.

Ask yourself: “What do I need to do to incentivize or reward myself and increase my motivation.” Why? Reasons reap results. You remember more when you are interested, enthusiastic and energetic. Put your heart into remembering.

O. Observation.

Pay attention. You build retention from attention. Memory is not something you have, it’s something you do. In this time of digital dementia—where we are outsourcing recall to a smartphone—it is critical to sharpen the saw of memory and own this superpower. Be present when taking in new information. Build your memory and your ability to remember.

M. Mechanics

Use tools for remembering. From associating a list with items in a room or with parts of your body, to creating a mnemonic clue, there are infinite  creative ways to prompt recall.

3
Jul

Meaningful Marketing Messages

Make your marketing message meaningful—in every way. To do this, every time, begin with the customer

Know your audience. Your message for new customers might vary from that of a repeat customer. Reward loyal customers. Always make a returning customer feel they are being treated well. Word of mouth from a happy customer is your best marketing message.

…then follow these three C’s.

Keep your message clear, concise and compelling.

Make your benefit clear for your customer. Show them and tell them what your product or service can do for them. Answer your customers’ question: “What’s in it for me?” Tell it in a way that distinguishes your offer from all competitive options.

A concise message is to the point. In other words, don’t make your customers think. State your message in the most simple terms and in the most memorable way. Brevity will help memorability of your proposition.

Be compelling. Help the customer picture themselves receiving the goods or service. An image or a narrative can help them imagine selecting your offer and enjoying the benefits. Show the customer the “payoff” they will get by choosing your brand. Create contrast with other brands to amplify the point of difference your product or service provides. Contrast helps create value around your brand, giving customers a reason to choose you over a rival. And, it can help create a sense of urgency. Show it with a visual or paint a picture with words.

8
Jun

Positioning Your Product or Brand

Positioning is a facet of the marketing strategy that aims to give your product or brand a distinct perception—relative to competing brands—in the mind of the customer. An historic campaign for Avis reflects this: “Avis Is Only No. 2, We Try Harder.”

In developmental stages, determine the positioning you intend for your product or brand. Research and market feedback will help you discover if it is aligned with actual consumer attitudes. If not, then marketing messages can help close the gap or change perception.

Positioning is an art. Great positioning tells a compelling, attention grabbing story—a story that resonates with your audience.

Rebel Brown

The positioning process begins with identifying a market problem or opportunity, then developing a solution—often based on market research, segmentation and supporting data. Once positioning is determined, it will help align and guide marketing efforts and business objectives. The perfume I use is the indulgent scent for pleasure seekers. Thus, the tone and manner of messages, images, events and PR are created to consistently express this in all communication.

Again, positioning is the perception of your product or brand in the mind of the customer. Perception is reality. Aim to establish the highest and best use for your brand among your audience. And, be open to emerging alternate audiences, too. Here are some examples of common positioning strategies and how they might translate in the marketplace.

 

10
May

Create Presence & Consistently Present It

Indicative of how an image is planted and then blossoms in the world of your business, here is presented the further evolution of the Logo Design for Elissa Henkin M.A., Advocate and Educational Consultant. In this, the logo is incorporated in the design of business stationery.

Elissa Henkin M.A. | Stationery Suite

Elissa Henkin M.A. | Stationery Suite

Three paper-based items are absolutely crucial to your presence in the marketplace: letterhead, envelopes, and business cards. Along with your logo, these items are the pillars of a well-defined identity.

Though seemingly ephemeral impressions, the subliminal communications value of elegant stationery must not be overestimated. The best stationery works hard to present your image and convey your values in a tangible way.

Traditionally, many of the world’s most successful companies have relied heavily on sharply-focused stationery. Whether you’re starting your business, building your business, or simply trying to stay in business, whatever your field, these three elements of corporate identity are vital for success.

21
Mar

Storytelling & the Three T’s

Do you have an underlying story for your brand? Is there a consistent message threaded through everything you do Determine the core concepts that resonate with your customers—and with your fans—to create the foundation of your brand story.

Here are some key areas you can investigate to unlock compelling threads that are engaging as your story unfolds.

Topics

Discover what your audience is interested in. A quick scroll among your followers will reveal repeated terms. Identify top keywords used to engage with your brand. Consider looking at areas of influence on Klout.  And take a look at the competition, how are they talking about their brands? This can help you distinguish yourself, recognize important attributes that bring a customer to your brand rather than to a competitor.  Grab on.  Follow the topic as it relates to your product and as it extends in other areas. Have fun with it—even topics that are “unspeakable” can be addressed in a tale or two. Consider the antics of PooPourri.

Trends

Capitalize on the trends. Seasons. Holidays. Events. News. Fashion. Sports. There’s an opportunity to hook your brand story on to what’s happening—as appropriate and applicable—and continue to unfold your story as it relates to current events and timely happenings. When you hook onto a trending concept with your product or offer, you gain awareness among those interested in the trend while staying relevant with your message. For instance, take a look at the Dough Boy taking the the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Many other brands capitalized on the trending event.

Themes

Develop content themes based on trends and topics relative to the goals of your company and your customers. Find the most universal theme to carry your story to the widest relevant audience. For instance, happiness. Show how your product inspires and spreads joy. And then, tell it like it is—with pizazz. Make it memorable. Here is where creativity conquers. Get your audience involved in your story and you will have a life-long fan. A great example of this is the Dancing Guy who was sponsored by various brands, beginning with Stride Gum.

With this, you can build a compelling message that unfolds consistently while continuously telling the tale that is at the core of your brand.