Category Archives: Branding Examples

What’s Hot In Web Design — January 2017 Edition

Happy New Year, everybody!! Now that the annual phoenix has burst into flame and renewed itself, it’s time to take stock of where we are and look towards the future. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about personal resolutions here, I’m talking about web design! Let’s get to it.

Put Some Air In There

jennjoy web designLarge, beautiful photos are still king in 2017, but we’ve begun to see a move away from ones that are busy across the full frame. On the rise are hero images that contain a good amount of dead space, which allow the eye to naturally flow to either the content of the image or a tagline or call to action placed (with plenty of whitespace around it) in the empty area of the photo. Continue reading

What’s Hot In Web Design — May 2016 Edition

Since the fickle fads that govern the design world’s sensibilities are constantly shifting, we find it useful to check in every once and a while and see what’s new, what still works and what has gone the way of the Dodo. Let’s jump right in!

Flat Design Still Rules

accountingrx-fullThe original shift towards flat design was in part caused by our collective shift into the mobile web-space, where vector-based graphics (many of which are flat-style) were able to deliver much speedier load times than traditional images. Given that our reliance on mobile devices has only grown, it only makes sense that flat design still reigns. Plus, it’s just so darn attractive! You’ll see flat design used everywhere, from simple icons to logos to large complex graphics. The solid colors of flat-design recall the bold palate of children’s animation, lending a light-hearted air to the graphics, which in turn can create a welcoming atmosphere wherever they are used. Continue reading

How to Grow Your Therapy Practice by Building Your Online Brand

portrait of middle aged female therapist in office with patient in backgroundHere at Solamar, as we work with a wide variety of business owners to help them create standout brands, we find that many of our clients fall into the category of “accidental” or “reluctant” entrepreneur. What I mean by this is that they are highly trained and skilled at what they do, and they have a burning desire to help others using their gifts and expertise, but they didn’t necessarily go into their field thinking like an entrepreneur.

Take our therapist clients, for example — each of the amazing therapists who hired us for branding and website design over the past few years had impressive training and experience, knew how to support their clients through life’s greatest challenges, and had hearts of gold with their sights set on helping more people through crisis and difficulty. And though they wanted and needed more clients to continue doing this meaningful and fulfilling work, they didn’t all know how to consistently attract the right clients to fill their practice and create or maintain a sustainable business.

What they needed — and what many business owners, like therapists, coaches and professional service providers need — is a standout brand and an exceptional online presence that communicates their message and connects with their audience, authentically and powerfully. Continue reading

Why Optimism Matters in Sales

optimismEntrepreneurship is driven by optimism. A positive outlook is vital to the success of anyone who is growing a business. The remarkable ability to envision and believe in the best possible outcome in any given situation is a trait that sets successful business owners apart from those who struggle. Where others see only obstacles and let fear or doubt get the best of them, entrepreneurs see the favorable side of challenging events and approach obstacles believing they can be overcome.

One area of business success that can only thrive with optimism intact is sales. Being able to sell your product or service is fundamental. No matter how great you are at what you do or how amazing your product is, without sales, you have no business. You have to believe people want to buy from you. You have to know that what you’re offering is worth it. If you don’t have an unshakable belief in yourself and your business, who else will?

Here’s why optimism matters in sales:

Your attitude is contagious

We all like to work with and do business with people we know, like, and trust. Having a sunny disposition attracts prospects to your personality; and when you belive in yourself, others can feel it, and they are more likely to believe in you too. Sales expert Wendy Connick explains that a positive attitude is contagious. When a prospect can tell you’re an upbeat person, they will feel more positive too and think more favorably about what you’re attempting to sell them. Connick says, “things like tone of voice, volume, word choice, and excitement level have a strong effect over the phone, since the other person can’t see you.“

Nobody is excited to work with or buy from someone who sounds depressed, because it’s a drag. So even if you’re feeling low, put some pep into your sales conversation. Listen to upbeat music before your meeting. Put on a smile during your call. Make the conscious choice to sound excited and enthusiastic. Your prospect will feel the attitude you bring to the call; and even if she doesn’t buy, she will have a positive impression of you. You may get a referral or simply build your network with someone else who is excited about what you’re doing and spreads the word about you and your business.

Confidence is key

In Inc Magazine’s roundup of The Top 10 Traits of Inc 500 Entrepreneurs, they found confidence was key: “Confident entrepreneurs present themselves effectively, take initiative, and have conviction in their ability to build businesses.”

You have to know that you can deliver. You have to believe that your product or service is the best, and that you can meet the needs and desires of your buyers. If you’re hesitant or if you have a sneaking underlying suspicion that you cannot measure up to expectations, buyers will be suspicious of you. They have to feel like they are spending their money wisely — that they are putting their trust in the right hands.

If you hem and haw during a call, seem hesitant, or unsure, it will show. It’s not enough to ‘know your stuff’ and present a polished pitch or presentation. You have to walk into a room or pick up the phone committed to success, knowing that you can do it.

Happiness wins

An article by Steve Martin in the Harvard Business review reveals, “less than 10 percent of top salespeople were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Conversely, 90 percent were categorized as experiencing infrequent or only occasional sadness.”

If you want to be successful in business, having emotional stability is important. Happiness and satisfaction with life in general will take you further than any individual sales success and outshine any failure. You cannot tie your self worth to a sales call. If you do, you’ll get discouraged and attempting to grow your business will begin to feel grueling and hopeless. You have to know that it will all work out for the best, stay happy, and keep moving forward.

Reality doesn’t bite

Maintaining optimism in sales doesn’t mean that you refuse to look at a situation for what it is, ignore reality, or operate under delusions. Entrepreneur Jason Wesbecher says, “The best sales people constantly ask themselves how could this go wrong?” They balance their optimism with a “healthy dose of paranoia” to face potential challenges head on.

Having an optimistic viewpoint will help you take a more objective look at constraints and drawbacks when the odds are stacked against you. With optimism, you can think more creatively about how to solve problems, address objections, and communicate favorably about what might be viewed as a shortcoming. Wearing rose colored glasses in business doesn’t make you blind. You just know that your future is bright.

Giving up isn’t an option

Pessimists are more susceptible to giving up — something business owners can’t afford to do. No matter how much a pessimist needs a ‘yes’ in sales, whatever enthusiasm they drum up to start, will wane quickly with each ‘no’ they get. If you believe your prospect will turn you down or that a potential customer will not buy, you will not have the resilience you need to persevere. Every “no” will serve as confirmation to feed your negative outlook.

To be successful in sales and grow your business, you must decide to see every ‘no’ as an opportunity — a welcomed challenge to reexamine your approach, to refine your offering, improve your product, or just move on to knock on the next door. There are plenty of opportunities to get a ‘yes’ out there in the marketplace.

You will have an easier road through the trials of entrepreneurship if you are naturally an optimist. A tendency to see the bright side will get you through dark and trying times.

However, optimism can also be learned and grow stronger like a muscle. You can practice positivity. Read success stories for evidence that your dreams can be accomplished. Go for the low hanging fruit first, and get some yesses under your belt early to build your confidence. Get into the habit of writing lists of pros and cons, but spend more time and energy fleshing out the details of the pros. That’s where the gold is. Study sales. Seek out resources and sales experts to learn as much about successful selling as possible. Knowledge is empowering.

Is Your Marketing Campaign True to Your Brand?

marketing-brandingWhen you prepare to launch a marketing campaign, can you confidently say that the campaign is true to your company’s brand?

The most powerful and persuasive branding is clear, cohesive, and consistent. Because your marketing should enhance your relationship with your audience and move customers to take action, effective marketing campaigns carefully align with your company’s brand.

Your brand is the emotional connection your customers have to your business. You have the opportunity to develop this relationship between your customers and your business through all of the ways they are exposed to your company — some examples of these points of contact include your logo, colors, messaging, voice, advertisements, customer service, and, of course, marketing campaigns.

Your brand creates meaning for your customers — it differentiates you from your competition — and this emotional connection becomes the reason they buy. Perhaps Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, put it most simply: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” But Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, warns, “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of thousands of small gestures.”

So each marketing campaign you launch shapes the perception of your company in the minds of your customers and potential customers.

Marketing consists of the ways in which you communicate value to your customers. Your marketing is comprised of a set of actions that help you uncover and activate buyers. Marketing encourages your existing and potential customers to hire you or purchase what you’re selling.

A marketing campaign is a coordinated series of specific steps and activities enacted to promote your company, a product, or service. A campaign has a timeline, a particular purpose and set of goals.

Right now, we can all observe the holiday marketing campaigns that are targeting us. From television and social media advertisements to store displays and emails, we are seeing the coordinated marketing efforts of some of our favorite and most recognized brands. And we can easily detect that the big brands, who have the most brand equity or established value in their brand, are staying true to their brand.

If an LL Bean marketing campaign took on the voice of an Old Navy marketing campaign this holiday season, how would that make you feel?

If an iPhone campaign suddenly took on the look and feel of Samsung, what would you think?

These companies have strong brands, and we expect certain identifiable messaging from them. They have built these brands — and the emotional connections their customers feel — over time with activities, including marketing campaigns, that are “true” to their brand. This helps to establish trust, ease, and comfort. Their customers know what to expect and what they are going to get.

When you have a small business with far fewer resources and opportunities to connect with customers than a big brand, it is even more important that you carefully consider whether or not your marketing campaigns are true to your brand.

Why miss a precious opportunity to build familiarity and trust? Why not use each point of contact with your customers and potential customers to enhance your relationship and further establish the unique value you bring?

To ensure that your marketing campaign is true to your brand, consider the brand promise you are making in the campaign to determine that it is a promise you can keep. Consider the voice and messaging to ensure that it is authentic and faithful to your brand. And consider the look and feel to make certain it is consistent and recognizable.

Remember, that when you come out of left field with a marketing campaign that is not well aligned with your brand, you may be doing more damage than good. As you are establishing your brand and trying new ideas, it is okay to experiment, but do so in a way that keeps the relationship you have with your target audience intact.

If you need help making sure your next marketing campaign aligns with your brand, contact Solamar today.

Be Authentic… Be, Be Authentic!

be-authenticLike a mantra at a high school football game — this is what small business owners should be repeating over and over to themselves. Chant it out loud, write it on a post-it note, or add it to your inspiration board — whatever you do, Be Authentic!

What do I mean? Authenticity means finding your voice and staying true. Align your brand to your voice. Stop selling — and start being you. Clients will notice. Your bottom line will too.

According to ecommerce insiders, “Building your brand is all about showcasing who you are and what you believe in i.e. being authentic. This quality is something that consumers naturally gravitate towards. Sure, there are people who will only buy the cheapest option available but there’s also a large number of customers who are looking for something more than just a product. They want a relationship with a company they like”.

Here are some tips to help you be more authentic in your business: Continue reading

Templates Aren’t Always Best (Pro’s and Con’s)

blog-492184_1280Here at Solamar, we specialize in building custom websites for clients who want their businesses to stand out in a cluttered marketplace. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is never a good reason to use a website template you purchase as-is rather than one of the tasty custom-built ones we make here.

Reasons to Use a Template

It looks like it looks.
There’s a lot of back and forth that goes into creating a custom website, and it can be hard to imagine what the final site is going to look like. When you choose a pre-built template, you will know exactly what you are getting, and some of them have customization options that allow you to tweak colors, fonts and other design elements. You won’t be able to go too far afield from the original design with these tweaks, but there is some wiggle room.

You need speed.
Designing a custom website takes time, and if you just can’t wait, a pre-built template will allow you to have a website up and launched in a fraction of the time it would take to custom-build something. Time is money, which brings me to my next point…

It’s cheap, cheap, cheap.
There’s no doubt about it, a pre-built template will be much cheaper than springing for a custom website design, primarily because building something from scratch takes a lot more time.

Reasons Not to Use a Template

It looks like it looks.
Because pre-built templates are available to everyone, it’s likely that whichever one you choose, many other people are already using it. Even after you tweak colors and fonts, it’s easy to distinguish template sites, especially when they use unique design elements. This turns visitors to your site off, and makes your business look unprofessional. Even if they don’t notice that you are using a template, they will subconsciously recognize the repetitiveness of the design and be less likely to engage with you. If you want a unique and exclusive design, custom-built websites are the only way to go.

You also need to think about how your website’s design is going to evolve over time. Most pre-built templates cannot be easily altered beyond surface design tweaks, and so you will be stuck with your initial design for the duration of its use. With a custom-built design, it’s much easier to work with your developer over the life of your site to adjust it to you and your customers’ changing needs.

There’s limited support.
Most companies that sell pre-built templates offer limited support for them after they are purchased and installed. If your template is difficult to implement, or breaks at some point, you are going to have do much of the heavy problem-solving by yourself. With a custom design, the team that builds your site will be there to help you, should you need it, and will provide much better long-term support, not just for fixing things, but for growing and enhancing your site as well.

It’s cheap, cheap, cheap.
Pre-built templates may be cheap, but they look it, and you get what you pay for. If you are spending time, money and energy on developing a brand, then you need a site that incorporates that brand as tightly as possible, and can support it as it grows. Would you buy a pre-made logo for your business that many other businesses were also using? I didn’t think so.

When you look at the pros/cons I’ve listed above, it seems clear that if at all possible, you should use a custom-built design rather than a pre-built template. The time and money you save in the short-term when you purchase a pre-built template only set you up for failure in the long-term.

Need a fantastic new custom-built website design for your business? That’s, like, what we do! You should totally contact us.