Category Archives: Branding Examples

Video Hosting for Small Business

filmHands down, your marketing should include video. According to SEJ, “people watch more than 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos on Facebook every day, and they share about 700 videos on Twitter each minute”.
If you’ve ever clicked on a video of a dog riding a skateboard, you understand what I am about to say — video promotes engagement and “likability” or share-ability of anything we want to market. That is why it is so essential that small businesses start to incorporate video into their marketing mix if they haven’t already. It’s just that simple. The only question you’ll have to ask yourself is: which video hosting site should you use?

YouTube and Vimeo are both the metaphorical “King of the Hill” when it comes to marketing and small business. But, they are very different animals. Let’s take a look at why, and how you can maximize your brand using one, or both.

YouTube

According to the YouTube Press Page, “more than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube, and 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute”.

That’s kind of a big deal.

Not only is YouTube the second-largest search engine after Google, but it also has a massive reach across social networking sites. Clearly good for large audience numbers, it is no wonder that YouTube is the world’s most popular video sharing platform. But, there are many factors that attribute to YouTube’s recipe for success.

  • YouTube is free, both to upload and to watch videos. If you aren’t already on YouTube, SproutSocial created this guide to creating a YouTube account that walks you through the process step-by step.
  • It is very easy to share YouTube videos to social media sites and other outlets. This “sharability” just makes sense in the world we live in. What’s more, sharability is crucial to brand awareness.
  • YouTube is owned by Google – a relationship that, with a little help, many claim will boost Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. That’s a definite perk.
  • Easy-peasy advertising. In three short steps, YouTube walks you through how to place an ad. They also customize your options to allow you to target your audience based on gender, age, interest and location.

If you visit the YouTube Statistics page, you’ll learn even more impressive stats, but the bottom line is that YouTube clearly has the reach that business owners want at a price tag that can’t be beat.

So, if YouTube is so amazing, the question begs — why isn’t everyone using it? Let’s take a look at the popular video hosting site, Vimeo, to answer that.

Vimeo

While Vimeo gets considerably less viewer traffic than video giant YouTube, it has become incredibly popular with peeps looking to export quality video in a boutique environment. According to Sprout Social, “This idea is related to the notion that Vimeo has more quality content. Since the site is much more niche than YouTube, there is a good chance that only serious video creators and watchers are frequenting the site on a regular basis. People viewing and commenting on your videos are a lot more likely to give you constructive feedback.”

Here’s why:

  • No Video Advertisements. Vimeo doesn’t place advertisements on any videos that they host. This alone is most likely the biggest perk to choosing Vimeo over YouTube. When your audience tunes in — there is a much smaller chance of them sub sequentially tuning-out due to pop up banners and advertisements.
  • Quality Peers. Because Vimeo is more of a niche community, it is home to more professionally made and better-looking videos. Want to judge it for yourself? Vimeo offers a Staff Picks page that allows you to explore videos that they feel stand out in the crowd — and they are definitely worth a watch. This able community lends credibility to your video and really just helps your brand to look more professional and polished.
  • More Tight-Knit Community. If you are looking for a video hosting site that lends itself to constructive criticism, Vimeo may just be the place for you. On Vimeo, members comment on each others videos regularly. According to Sprout Social, “This site is more close knit than YouTube, so building a community of thought leaders should be one of your highest priorities. This also means you should make sure to respond to those who comment one your videos.”
  • YouTube restricts users to turn privacy either on or off. Meaning, it is completely private or available to the public. On Vimeo, users can customize their privacy. Vimeo allows you to hide your videos from folks browsing Vimeo, password protect them, or restrict your videos to be viewed/embedded on specific websites that you dictate. This gives you lots of flexibility to offer products for pay that are delivered in part by video.

At the end of the day, when you are choosing which platform best represents your brand, it is vital to consider the end-game of your marketing plan. Important items to weigh include:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Are you looking for conversion or brand awareness?
  • What the types of videos do you produce — and how often?

Need help answering these questions before you decide? Give us a shout! Because we do that too.

Does Your Newsletter Pop?

graffiti-429323_640I’d say it’s common marketing knowledge at this point that utilizing an email newsletter (or ezine) for your business has many benefits, but for those who are new to the party, let’s have a refresher, shall we?

An email newsletter is an email you send to a list of subscribers on a recurring basis (once a week or month), usually with casual content like article excerpts, short personal messages and announcements. You don’t see a lot of pushy sales content in newsletters, though their ultimate goal is often to sell or generate leads. They do this by regularly placing your brand along-side bite-size pieces of interesting content that make it more likely for people to both remember you and click through to your pages.

The catch is, your newsletter needs to POP! You can’t just write an email, call it a newsletter and send it off to your list. Or, at least, you shouldn’t expect good results if you do. Though email clients are still in the stone-age compared to browsers when it comes to displaying beautifully styled content, forward thinking newsletter designers have found ways to make even the stodgiest email clients (I’m looking at you Outlook), display attractive and responsive email newsletters.

So how do you make your newsletter pop? Stay tuned, and I’ll give you a few tips! Continue reading

The Benefits to a Consistent Brand

consistent-brand-goodMany small business owners believe that building a brand is only for the big guys with mega-bucks. That is so not true! According a recent article in the Arizona Republic, “Small business owners often discover—sometimes the hard way—that branding is a surefire way to make or break a product, service, or company.”

Creating a clear and powerful brand is the first step toward success. Then, the next (and even more important) step on the way to generating a lasting impression is to reinforce your brand with consistent communications and messaging across all online content, including your website, landing pages, social media, blog, email, and online ads. You need a steady, dependable platform for your passion that’s relevant and meaningful to your target audience, if you want them to believe in you and your business, as pointed out by Chelsea Berler, Solamar’s Founder and CEO.

Inconsistent brands dart around here and there…and confuse people. Whereas, consistent brands solve problems, reinforce positive experiences, and make people trust a business. According to Yahoo Business, “Part of optimizing your web presence is to ensure that you are consistent across your various web properties so that no matter where someone finds your business, they are left with a compelling, lasting impression.”

That’s why it’s so important to recognize the many and varied benefits to a having a consistent brand. Continue reading

Cures for a Stale Brand

528945754_613fd208b0_zIt’s easy to tell when berries go bad…they get fuzzy coats. When fish spoil, they stink. When bread gets stale, it grows blue-green mold. But, how do you know when a brand gets stale? And more importantly, what should you do about it?

Is your brand getting stale?

“Brands are organic,” says Huntington Post. “It takes time to create one worthy of your company, but by the time you launch it takes on a motivation and an existence of its own. The brand becomes bigger than the company itself, or any individual within the company.”

But unfortunately, brands deteriorate over time. Usually it doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens. According to the blog on Huntington Post, “Colors, fonts, styles, and voices come and go like fashions over the years, and what was relevant for your brand ten years ago may no longer be worth pursuing.” In other words, it’s time for an update if your brand feels and sound like bag phone from the 1980’s instead of a 21st century iPhone 6!

Keep in mind that your brand needs to stay clear, relevant, and consistent across all communications from your website to social media to customer communications. You need an obvious platform for your passion, if you want others to believe in you and your business, as pointed out by Chelsea Berler, Solamar’s Founder and CEO. But if the words that originally described your brand no longer carry the powerful message they once did, no longer stand out to grab your customers’ attention, and/or no longer describe your business today, it may well be time to take a new look at your brand.

Another reason to refresh your brand is when sales begin to taper off and are underperforming. Updating your brand with new focus may be what it takes to boost sales. That refresh can also help you target an added market segment. And create new, exciting markets into the future.

Symptoms of a stale brand

Overhauling your brand image can be tricky, since you don’t want to alienate your current customers. So you don’t want to take it lightly. That’s why you need to watch for the symptoms warning you that it’s time to refresh your brand, says Rob Bloxham:

  • A crowded and competitive marketplace—A strong brand helps you cut through the noise of a crowded marketplace, giving potential customers a reason to choose you and current customers reassurance that they have chosen the best.
  • The market has grown but your market share hasn’t—If your sector is surging ahead but your bottom line isn’t, warning bells should be going off. A stronger brand and its continued promotion are powerful tools defending your market from the competition.
  • Marketing is falling flat—Similarly, if you are spending on marketing materials and promotion, from sales pages to Google ads to social media to web content and PR, and they are not converting into sales, the problem may be your brand that is failing to hit the mark.
  • Customer confidence is waning—If customers don’t trust your brand, they won’t trust or try your product or service.
  • Your brand is outdated or irrelevant—It makes your business look just as passé. A current, clear, professional, exciting, and confident brand speaks volumes about the company behind it.
  • Business is good, but you want to get to the next level—At first, you might even think “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But a refresh can help you sustain and even accelerate the next phase of growth.

A few cures for SBS (stale brand syndrome)

A brand refresh isn’t just about updating your logo or tweaking your website. It’s about defining what you offer as a company that makes you stand out and gives customers a reason to choose you over the competition. And that makes it vital to the growing small business and entrepreneur to find a cure for SBS:

  • Review your brand strategy—Take a fresh look at it every 6 to 8 months and rethink all the elements in light of what’s going on in your industry and in the world. Do the language and words that describe you need tweaking?
  • Keep it relevant—Watch trends, stay informed, and keep a finger on what your market wants and needs now, as opposed to what it wanted a few months ago. For something really new, you might want to think about trying a podcast
  • Keep it buzz-worthy—You can’t allow your brand to get boring and dull. So, keep it buzzing with relevant content, events, launches, announcements, contests, social media, and innovations. (FYI, it really works…just ask the ALS folks about their ice bucket challenge!)
  • Keep it trendy, but true—A recent Solamar post explains the importance of keeping your marketing fashionable…maybe even ahead of the trends, “…when it comes to marketing, your success depends onyou keeping your finger on the pulse and your ear to the ground of what works for your market. You need to recognize what’s hot and what’s not, and understand what might be making your marketing passé. But above all, keep it true to who you are and what you do.”
  • Tell them what’s new—Whether you’re launching new products, just wrote a book, or are giving a speech, tell your audience all about it.
  • Keep your online presence and print materials fresh—When customers keep seeing the same old stuff year after year, customers start to tune it all out. Or worse, they will start to hate it. For tips on keeping your website up-to-date, check out our recent post.

The best cure for a stale brand is the easiest. Simply give a shout out to the rock star brand building pros at Solamar.

Insta-Tips: Instagram and Your Business

10040668044_e41bb1cc85I discovered Instagram way back in December of 2010. A friend of mine started posting pictures to Facebook that were clearly cooler than any “regular” photo I was used to seeing. His photos were as styled and sleek as a Vanity Fair spread. I was Insta-hooked. A photography enthusiast, I immediately did some research and fell in love with the amazing app that made my friend’s photos possible — Instagram.

Just in case you don’t know, Instagram is a social media platform that allows users to share images with other followers. It combines a user-friendly interface with artistic photo filters which users apply at the tap of a finger. Instagram recently added some options that allow users to fine-tune their filter settings, but photography knowledge is not a prerequisite for this fun app.

For now, Instagram is free and is an easy way to get your brand and/or your name out there. You may doubt the exposure it will offer you, but don’t. There were 200 million users as of the end of March 2014.  What’s more, 75 million are daily Instagram users.

As it turns out, when I discovered Instagram in December of 2010, it had just launched in October of that year and immediately spread like wildfire. According to inc.com, “At the end of the first week of the company’s launch, Instagram had been downloaded 100,000 times. Another week passed, and another 100,000 people had downloaded the app. By the middle of December, the community had grown to a million users.”

Clearly, I wasn’t alone in my love of filters and lighting. I began using Instagram in my daily life — and before I knew it, was promoting the easy-to-use app to colleagues and clients alike. Here at Solamar, many of our clients are on Instagram. Our CEO, Chelsea Berler, shares amazing Instagram pics often. Among our clients; Kat Perkins, Mark Groves, and Gabrielle Bernstein have mastered the art of Instagram-ing.

It all begs the question; what sets some Instagram-ers apart from the crowd? To grow your list of followers, and subsequently, your business, here are five Insta-Tips: Continue reading

Redoing Your Website Design is Refreshing!

new-solamar-homeNo matter how good looking your website is, if the design has stayed the same for a little while one of the best things you can do is give it a refresh. In fact, even if you have a brand new design, it is still important to track its performance and evaluate exactly how well it is performing. If any part of your site isn’t meeting expectations, than a refresh of that section could turn things around. One of the first things you need to do is make sure that you have decent analytics (such as the free Google Analytics) set up for your site, and that you view regular reports on traffic and other metrics. Remember that it can take 6-months to a year to gain enough data to have a good understanding of how you are performing, so give your self at least that much time in between redesigns. Performance will fluctuate, and it’s important to appraise it over time.

Once you have enough data in hand, you will be able to decide if refreshing your website will mean working on a complete re-branding, or just changing the layout of your home page or the language you use in your messaging. Either way, it can breathe new life into any existing site, simply by providing your visitors with something new and unexpected. Even a tiny adjustment to layout can increase engagement with even semi-regular visitors, as people will indulge their natural curiosity just to find out why things have changed.

And hey, we lead by example! The design team at Solamar has just finished a refresh of our own website, and we’re super stoked to show it off to the world. You should totally click through and check the whole thing out, but stay tuned here, I’m going to go through some of the changes, and why we made them. Weeeeeeee!

new-solamar-home

Adjusting to the Landscape

One of the things that you need to be constantly aware of when doing any online work is that the internet is a moving target. The moment you commit to a design, the technology and aesthetic of that design begin to become outmoded immediately. Here at Solamar, we pay attention to trends in design internationally, and we are always trying to make sure that our site (and our clients’ sites) are always on the forefront of what’s cool and what’s possible. We’ve taken inspiration from emerging trends all over the web and molded them together into a new vision for our site.

Our new homepage continues a movement toward the heavy use of big, attractive images, and we’ve embraced a longer style of page design that understands the fact that people are willing to scroll a lot more on their touch devices. To accommodate that choice, we’ve adjusted our design to more clearly delineate between different sections on an individual page. We start with a big ol’ team picture (I’m the silly one all the way on the right), followed by a quick description of what we do best. Following that, we’ve split our work showcase into two sections, and given them as much screen real-estate as possible, so we can really show off our work!

In addition to looking fabulous, this new “edge-to-edge” type of design makes it even easier to make the site responsive across all devices and screen-sizes, as well as making the design pop even more on really small screens.

new-solamar-home-section

The Team Behind the Screen

With any refresh, you also need to focus on making sure your personality, or the culture of your business, come through. At Solamar, we’re really proud of the work we do for our clients, and part of that work is the people that do it. Our personality infuses the design that we do, the way we interact with clients and each other and it is a fundamental part of Solamar and why we do things the way we do. Our team is distributed across the country, but that only means that it’s been even more important for us to build a group of people we all really trust and love. We work hard at keeping everybody tight-knight, and we want to show that off to the world.

To that end, we’ve redone our “What” and “Who” pages to bring even more light to them. On the “Who” page, we use the new “edge-to-edge” design aesthetic to make sure everyone’s smiling face gets as much space as possible, and we changed the portraits to color! Yay, color!!

Even on the “What” page, which is about the services we offer, we’ve included a bunch of photos, not just of some of our work, but of the team being all full of togetherness and kindheartedness and such. Oh yeah, and of course a picture of me being silly.

new-solamar-team

Sweat the Details

We’ve made a host of other small tweaks and adjustments throughout the site, too many to get to here, but you should be sure to poke into the corners of your site and make sure it hasn’t gotten too dusty, or broken down where you haven’t been looking. Do your research before you commit to any refresh. Make sure you have the data concerning it’s performance necessary to make informed decisions. Find inspiration out there in the internet wilderness. There are so many people doing so many cool things, and you won’t know about it until you search for it.

And as always, if you’d like a little help refreshing your site, give the team at Solamar a shout, it’s what we do, baby!

How to Get More “Likes” on your Facebook Business Page

keys-264595_1280What happens when you click “Like”?
“When you click Like on a Facebook page, in an advertisement, or on content off of Facebook, you are making a connection.” According to Facebook, “A story about your like will appear on your Timeline and may also appear in your News Feed. You may be displayed on the Page you connected to, in advertisements about that Page or in social plugins next to the content you like.”

As you can see, a simple “Like” goes on to have a life of its own. In just one click, you are sharing that you like a movie, sports team, or even an offer from a business. That click expresses who you are and helps your friends know you better.

Does that mean all “Likes” are good?
“Not just no, but HELL NO!!” says PostPlanner. “The problem is there are too many people recommending too many different ways to get more Likes and Fans—many of them not legit. Do a search on Google and you’ll find over 2 billion results offering you an answer! Yes, that’s billion with a B!”

So what should you do to get more Likes (good, qualified ones), without buying them from some not-so-legit site? (BTW, buying them will forever ruin your page, because those purchased Likes are not the engaged Fans you’re looking for.)

Instead, here are a few easy and effective tips to win more Likes: Continue reading