Branding 101: Use of Video

A well-done brand video helps your current and potential customers identify and engage with your business twice as fast as an image or text. People like buying from people and video allows brands to better create a likeable and vibrant persona. Video is shared the most on social media and is processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text. However, it is also important to do it right or you risk creating a bad reputation.

Join Creative Vortex and Elevated Shorts as we explore the different facets of leveraging video is an effective branding campaign.

Long- and Short-Form Video

Five Steps To A Great Marketing Mix

A big part of successful brand promotion is having a killer marketing mix that covers a broad diversity of platforms to reach your target audience and create brand recognition that speaks for itself. A marketing mix is made up of various elements (i.e. website, advertising, social media) used by an organization in a specific market for a customer group.

Having a strategic marketing mix is important because it provides a roadmap for executing on business objectives, as well as driving consistent and credible exposure to a target audience. In other words, it builds brand recognition through consistent images and key messages to keep your brand in the forefront of customers minds.

1. Establish Goals & Objectives
Clearly define what you want your marketing mix to do for the brand. Do you want to increase sales, engage with customers, grow brand awareness? Ensure that your goals and objectives for your marketing mix are aligned with those of your overall marketing strategy.

2. Determine Target Market
Who is most likely going to buy your product or service? Make sure that you are positioning your marketing mix with the people most likely to engage and purchase it.

3. Identify Distribution Channels
Knowing your distribution channels will help to guide how products and services are marketed. Main channels include wholesalers, retailers and direct to consumers.

4. Choose Promotional Techniques
Leveraging the right promotional techniques to connect and engage with your target audience is key to your sales and marketing success. Direct marketing, public relations, advertising, in-person sales and marketing promotions are some of the most important tactics.

5. Define Inbound Marketing Strategy
Putting together a strategy to draw customers to your brand through an inbound marketing strategy is one of the most important things you can do. Elements include a website, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media and blogging.

Of course, in order to draw all of these elements together cohesively, you need to have a defined brand through key messages, images and graphics that uniquely define your organization. Creative Vortex would love to evaluate your current marketing mix and make some recommendations to help elevate your brand!

Five Business Tips for Succeeding in a Virtual World

Having a strong and persuasive virtual presence in today’s business world is more important than ever. Brands must do more than just exist but need to be able to continue to build product and service awareness, create relationships with target audiences and then engage with consumers and business peers to be a profitable and forward-thinking business. Networking and connecting with others virtually is different than doing it in person, but the prospect of success is definitely there! Below are five tips to help you build brand presence and awareness digitally.

1. Create a Powerful Business Narrative
Having a powerful and succinct story to tell consumers about your business is more important than ever as we navigate an increasingly virtual world for conducting business. Who are you and what is your mission? What messages are you trying to send clients and customers before, during and after the sales cycle? Make sure you are sending consistent messages on familiar platforms your target audience is using. Business narratives are designed to portray the essence of your brand, communicate value and create long-term relationships.

2. Maintain or Increase Value
Creating great value for clients and customers is a hallmark of any well-known brand. How are you solving problems and/or making life easier for your target audience? Are you easy to work with and responsive to customer support requests? Businesses and organizations are operating without a lot of face-to-face interactions so it’s critical to ensure that your product or service is measuring up to your brand promise. One of my favorite mottos is “Under promise and over deliver.” The value of your product or service speaks volumes for what your brand stands for and determines if customers will come back.

3. Cultivate a Loyal Tribe Online
Word of mouth marketing continues to gain relevance as we push forward in a virtual business world. In fact, 86 percent of customers trust word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations. Social media has played a huge part in propelling word-of-mouth marketing. Not only is it important to have business pages on social platforms to engage with what people are saying, but it is important to cultivate tribes of people that love your brand and will tell the world about their experience. You can reward them, encourage and thank them, and leverage user-generated content to supplement your own marketing program.

4. Make Sticky Content
In 1984 people were exposed to about 2,000 marketing messages a day and by 2014 it was up to 5,000 … and today it is almost too numerous to count! To thrive in today’s digital marketing environment a brand needs content that inspires, motivates and challenges an audience so they share the content to become viral and create a life of its own. Sticky content pushes across many different audiences, platforms and environments, from email campaigns to social media to digital advertising.

5. Connect & Engage
With the onset of virtual events in lieu of face-to-face events it is so important to find ways to personally engage with clients and customers. Content is king but having a conversation can do more to create a long-term business relationship. Of course, brands need to make sure that they are responding to emails, customer service requests, and online conversations, and leveraging user-generated content, as well as strategically placing digital content. It is also just as important to schedule regular phone and video calls and write thank-you notes to ensure that customers are happy and well taken care of. Go the extra mile to make sure that customers and clients see the people behind the brand to create an authentic human touch.

Investing in a strong virtual presence for your brand now will bring many benefits long-term! Hopefully, these tips can help you continue to build a strong customer and peer network.

5 Tips To Get Your Giving Tuesday Campaign Ready

Giving Tuesday, a global generosity movement to encourage individuals to give back to the nonprofits in their communities, is coming up on December 1, 2020. Whole Whale has predicted that $605 million will be raised on Giving Day this year, an 18 percent increase from 2019. Do you want your organization to benefit from a part of that expected $605 million dollars? One of the keys to a successful Giving Day campaign is to create a campaign strategy and to effectively communicate with potential donors.
Below are five tips that will help you create a dynamic and visible Giving Day campaign that will draw donors and encourage them to give.

Tip #1: Start NOW
It’s important to start organizing and planning for Giving Tuesday as early possible to make sure that your donors have the opportunity to participate. This also gives nonprofits the ability to put together a campaign that not only aligns with the organization’s brand and mission, but gives potential new donors time to ask questions and learn more about the nonprofit’s initiatives. In addition, you will be able to leverage donor and community partnerships for more exposure around Giving Day.

Tip #2: Identify Your Key Initiatives & Messages 
Getting started early allows nonprofits to be thoughtful about how key initiatives are highlighted in the Giving Day campaign, as well as how they develop key messages to grow knowledge about support for them in the community. Perhaps, you need to create new key messages or leverage those already in place but it’s important to show consistency as it relates to your overall brand.

Tip #3: Choose a Branded Theme
Visuals matter when creating an impactful Giving Day campaign! Make sure that your campaign consistently uses the same colors, logo, hashtag(s), tagline and unique design all the way through until you say your final thank you to volunteers and donors. Choose colors that are eye catching and a tagline draws people to support your cause. Your theme should be tied directly to your key business initiatives and Giving Day messages.

Tip #4: Organize Your Collateral & Platforms
Decide what collateral you are going to use to reach out to your target audience. A few options include printed postcards, social media, emails, flyers, and digital advertising. Choose your digital platforms (i.e. social media, email, website ) that you want to use to connect with your donors to grow your exposure. Make sure your print, social media and email drives people to your branded website to make sure they get the whole message. Additionally, ensure that all of your collateral is branded with logos, emails, key messages, colors and taglines that represent your organization and Giving Day campaign.

Tip #5: Communicate Often & Early 
Make sure you are talking to your target audience early on in the campaign and do it consistently so it becomes top of mind for them. Adapt your messages for specific audiences and make sure you are reaching out to them on platforms where they are the most active. One of the keys to success here is creating a multi-pronged content strategy and have it approved well in advance of needing to execute it. It’s important to communicate before, during and after your Giving Day event.

Need some more help? Contact bridget@creative-vortex.com for fresh marketing and design ideas to get your campaign off the ground.

Three Reasons a Professional Logo Design Will Benefit Your Business 

A logo is an easily identifiable mark of your business and should give a great first impression of a business to clients and customers. In most cases, a brand identity is built around a logo and will carry through on marketing collateral, digital presence and social media. Designing a logo should be taken very seriously and considered in the larger context of your brand identity (i.e. colors, elements and messages) and brand essence (what the brand actually stands for).

Determining the need for a logo is easy but executing the perfect logo for a business is a whole other experience. In most instances, people understand the need and really want an amazing logo but are concerned about cost and time commitment. If you search the internet for logo design results will include a myriad of websites that offer a logo for $38 … even going as low $29. Just insert the name of the business, your favorite color, and industry into a form, click a button and then choose from more 100 logos design that will perfectly match your business. People can walk away with a jpeg file in just minutes. But, can that logo do everything that you need it to do? Was it built to reflect your business identity and customized for use on all the different digital, print and social media platforms available?

Approaching a professional designer can be intimidating for fear of asking a stupid question or being worried about how much the designer will charge. As far I am concerned there are no stupid questions when it comes to my industry. You don’t need to know everything about graphic design … that’s my job, not yours. As for costs, they will vary according to different design agencies or designers but will typically range according to your needs. Most importantly, what is included in those costs is far more comprehensive and the final, customized product will serve as an asset to your marketing and digital goals.

Still not sure? See below for my top three reasons to hire a professional designer.

#1 – Designed Around a Concept and Strategy 

A logo should serve as a foundation for your brand. A professional designer will know how to use the theory of color in multiple or single colors, leverage different design elements and balance typography that circles back to the organization’s mission and business focus. The designer will also know how to incorporate subtle meanings that will set the business apart from the competition.

#2 – Different Formats and Variations 

A professional designer will have the skill to create a responsive design logo that can be used in many different platforms, including signage, advertising, marketing, digital and social media. The designer will be able to provide more than just a jpeg file, but also stacked and vertical options, reversed color, vector and png files (needed for print), and a bug (an element from the logo for profile images).

#3 – Return on Investment 

A strategic and professionally designed logo will grow with your business and stand the test of time. It will give your brand credibility and strength to become a well-recognized image of your business, which will ultimately attract new clients and retain current customers.

It’s important for businesses of all sizes to have a strong, identifiable logo that ties together a brand identity and unifies a business presence in all places it is leveraged. Working with a professional designer is a bigger investment of financial resources and time in the beginning, but in the end will serve your business well into the future.

My shameless plug … please reach out at bridget@creative-vortex.com to get started with creating a new logo or refresh the one you already have!

One Percent

The whole concept of time has changed amid the quarantine period. People have taken on the reality of managing their life from a kitchen table or living room couch. Some of us are lonely, bored and anxious. Some of us are overstimulated by duties that tripled overnight. How do we manage our time so that it still serves us?

1. Create a schedule
For those of us that suddenly have an empty social life or those that are overwhelmed by working full-time and making sure kids finish school, our schedules have changed dramatically. One of the best ways to take back your power in this situation is to create a schedule that gives your day meaning and ensures that you care for yourself. Schedule live fitness classes on Zoom, run outside two miles a day, attend a virtual happy hour or networking session, attend a drive-by birthday party, etc. Make sure you delineate between your work and when you do other things so you don’t end up in front of your computer all day. Try to keep it normal, but if you end up working a few hours in the evening because you spent three hours helping your child with schoolwork during the day don’t sweat it. Just make sure you don’t work all night. Keep it realistic. Don’t worry, you can write a new schedule every day if you want to!

2. Exercise
Make time for exercise! Don’t give up on your new year’s resolutions just because life changed significantly. There are so many online fitness courses to take right now and gyms have quickly ramped up online classes for members. If you absolutely need people to work out with, there are even several organizations that offer live virtual fitness classes to keep people motivated. If all else fails, go outside and walk around the block several times a day. If you have kids, take a daily break from school and work at the park or in the backyard and make sure that it is equally about you as it is for them. Play soccer, create family-friendly obstacle courses, race each other … just make sure everyone’s heart is racing. This is an excellent opportunity to make exercise a habit for everyone!

3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Work on your communication skills with the people you live with, as well as those you work with. If it’s not working for you voice your concerns and frustrations, as well as suggest a compromise that might work for everyone. It might take you a few tries to get it right, but eventually you will. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules a little bit. You aren’t living or working in your normal space right now and emotions are high. Give yourself, your co-workers and your little ones the grace and space needed to feel comfortable. However, make sure you set boundaries (this ties back to creating a schedule!) to make sure that you accomplish tasks by the end of every day. For example, schoolwork has to be done before 2 pm, no work calls after 6 pm, run every morning at 7 am, etc.

So many of us talk about changing things in our life to make ourselves feel more empowered. This really is an opportunity to assert yourself more at work, incorporate more exercise, try a new hobby, engage with family members more, carve out time just for you or to ask for more help. We all make choices every day, and ultimately, we choose what and who is part of our life. I like to think of this as the One Percent Rule. Do one percent better than the day before and before you know it you will see a difference!

Tips for Working From Home

Today there are millions of people conducting local and global business from their homes. Given the heightened concern for maintaining social distancing due to the coronavirus, a significant amount of these people are new to working from home. And, the people working from home might not even be alone given that a large number of schools have switched to virtual classrooms. I have been working remotely for more than 13 years and I wanted to pass on some tips that might help make working remotely successful for an extended amount of time.

Technology

Obviously, a trusted and working computer is essential to being successful. Whether it’s your computer or the organization’s computer, make sure you have the appropriate software and applications and you are aligned with what everyone else is using.

A lot of people transitioned to working from home quickly, but if you have time make sure that the technology works and you have everything necessary to succeed, including dependable Wi-Fi. If your bandwidth is low and is struggling, shut down other programs to lighten the load. If on a video call, turn off the video and participate with audio only.

Communicate

When first starting out, it’s okay to over communicate with team members. The cadence will probably be different than it was when you were all in an office together, but you will find your rhythm. Providing regular status communication will keep projects on track and show what each team member is working on.

More prep might be required from leaders. Remember that not everyone needs to be included in each video call, conference call or webinar. It’s pretty important to be respectful of time and other people’s schedules.

Work Environment

Every working environment and work culture is different. Leaders should give team members a chance to contribute to the conversation and figure out what works best for your team. Are there times of the day that leaders expect a timely response? Is a response window of 2 hours expectable? Or times of the day that team members are not responding immediately? Create the basis of trust. Don’t threaten to make random workstation checks and call-ins three times a day. Be aware of how other team members work best. Are they an early morning person? Are they in a different time zone? Be flexible and intentional to have alignment and trust.

Distractions

Right now people are living with the reality that their children are home all day and don’t have another person to care for them. Or people are scrambling to ensure that older and more fragile family members in need of immediate assistance are taken care of. It’s important as a team member to know that and respect it.

Grace

Have some grace. There will be a transitional time if your team is not used to working remote or if they are needing to care for other people. Have empathy and learn what your team members might need to make the transition easier. It’s okay to expect the best from people, but also necessary to show respect to others before you even get it.

Time Management

Make sure you use your time wisely! A time tracking application is a great way to manage time and I have been using OfficeTime with a lot of success. Be sure to create a to-do list at the end of each work day to prioritize the items that need to be tackled the next day. This way you start each day with a clear agenda of what needs to be accomplished.

Personal

On the personal side of things, I book time on my calendar to ensure that I get regular exercise and get out of my house every single day. Additionally, I block out important family obligations for each week/month.

Be sure to have some fun through scheduled morning coffee video meetings or lunch meetings. Show and share what you are drinking or eating. Take a few minutes to care about your people and then focus on work.