Thursday, 22 October 2015

Refresh your company's brand to reflect its future

Maybe your business is heading in a new direction, entering a new phase of growth or planning a major sales drive. Usually, this type of forward thinking raises the question of the brand look and feel: “Does it represent we’re we are going, does it look modern and dynamic, does it reflect our new products and services?”

Clearly if a company wants to enter new markets and engage better with new customers and clients, this needs to be backed by a viable business plan, of which the brand refresh will form part. This will help ensure the visual identity and company language moves in line with the company’s vision and objectives for the next few years.

A wrong reason to refresh would be just for the sake of it or because a few of your competitors are doing it. The latter may initiate a review, but it’s only worth progressing if backed by a sound business rationale and the required resources and budget are allocated.

Once the decision is made to go for a refresh, it can be a very positive move for your staff as it will inject a line of enthusiasm into the new drive for growth, development or sales. It will give focus to the new initiatives and the aim here is to get staff buy-in so they become ambassadors of change.
Freshening up the elements of your visual identity typically includes:

Logo: Often seen as sacrosanct, a logo a can be tweaked to keep in line with the new ethos. It’s very much evolution rather than revolution in terms of a brand refresh. Colours, fonts and icons can be updated. Remember though, changing the logo means it has to go on all elements of the company’s sales, administration and corporate literature as well as marketing collateral. So it can be quite a big commitment to take on. Make sure you’re resourced to do it both internally and with your marketing agencies.  

Brand vocabulary: How does your company speak to customers and business partners? Think about the key words and tone of voice that best reflect the new approach. Blend them in with the propositions that your business wants to promote. Review your old headlines, stale straplines and corporate key words. The tone of voice is important for all communications, because it helps establish the new personality of how your company wants to be perceived. Customers and business partners should be able to tell something is new just by reading the copy, even without the updated graphics.

Colour palette: Look to introduce colours that best reflect where the company is going. This may be a mixture of old and new. A key consideration is to be different to other companies in your sector to avoid visual confusion.

Typography: Bring this up to date with changing styles and the way content is consumed on different platforms and devices. Where are your customers seeing your information? Different fonts work better on different media.

Imagery: An important point here is to introduce a consistent style – images, cartoons, drawings. Follow them through on all everything you do for staff, customers and suppliers. Also pick a style for company and staff photos that look forwards to the company’s future.

Consistency: Bring your brand in line across all marketing media, stationery, staff communications, customer contacts, business partner literature and suppliers contracts. Having a consistent theme will play a huge part in effectively strengthening your brand message.

Branding is about sending out strong, positive and consistent messages. It is essential to establish both powerful propositions and clear communications to ensure what distinguishes you from the competition is well promoted and compelling. A brand refresh will help you communicate these values as your company moves in to new ventures, launches new products or plans to enter new territories.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Shape Your Tweets with Twitter Analytics

The analytics package from Twitter can be used to increase the engagement and efficiency of your tweets, giving them more reach and engagement. Oh, and they’re free which is nice. That’s why it’s just not good enough to issue lots of tweets. It’s now essential to issue messages that are relevant and resonate with your followers so that they want to engage with your company.

The Service Basics
The service gives valuable insights as to how tweets are performing, instantly and the trends over time.
A key parameter is ‘Engagement Rate’ - simply the number of engagements a tweet has had divided by the views (twitter call them impressions) a tweet has had.
Tweets can be tracked in real time and messaging adjusted by the minute, hour or day.
It provides basic graphs and results on retweets, favourites and link clicks (maybe a link to an article on your website for example).
All of the above can be tracked by month, last 7 days, last 28 days, or you can customise a time frame.
By clicking on an individual tweet you can see detailed information for that tweet, such as time of day it was viewed (very useful this) and the link clicks, profile clicks, retweets and favourites. 

Does it Work?
My consultancy runs twitter accounts for a number of clients and the information provided by the analytics has proved to be extremely useful. The frequency, content and time of day messages are issued have all been shaped by reviewing and interpreting the reports.

That last point is key: understanding why something is working or not, so that we can do more of it if it is getting results and change tack if communications aren’t hitting the mark. So, believe what the statistics are saying but also work out what they mean. Although there is an ‘Export Data’ function, we tend to pass information to colleagues or clients, using a simple spreadsheet to quickly record the key performance indicators as an executive summary overview.

Rounding the Circle
To get a more complete picture of the power of content, we closely monitor the social media section on Google Analytics to see the referrals from social media accounts – LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and twitter of course.  By clicking through, information is provided on which piece of activity resulted in the referral, so providing even more information to improve future strategy.

Make an Impression
By studying the data freely available to your business, it’s possible to improve the value of your tweets and see what resonates with your followers. Some examples we’ve found include:
-          - Time of day – the service allows monitoring of the time of day your audience are reading your messages, so you can issue tweets at the best time for them. We are seeing that because clients have different audience profiles, we now issue tweets both in and out of office hours. And don’t forget the weekends too!
-          - High impressions – To get your tweets noticed we try include business partner handles or news website links where a client company is featured. We also include links back to their  websites and check referrals on Google Analytics.
-          - You get the picture? - We have found that use of suitable photos and images have a real impact on engagements, but they have to be relevant to the story or promote the product/service. Brand imagery doesn’t work as well, but they do make your tweets look nice! 
-          - Who you gonna call? - Include a call to action in some tweets when you can respond online or take calls. For one client we saw an increase in phone calls during a promotion, so we worked with them to issue the tweets with a phone number when they had staff available to take calls.

In conclusion, these free statistics from twitter are a welcome addition to the science of social media. Combined with other analysis techniques they are a vital part of our consultancy tool box. However, time needs to be spent interpreting their meaning and taking the appropriate action, which means refining and developing key messages step by step.  

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Are you responding to responsive design?

It’s a phrase we’ve all heard over the last few years, but responsive design for websites and marketing emails, isn’t the future – it’s here already. What’s more, if your website or your clients’ websites aren’t responsive, you should now be starting to get to grips with bringing them up to date.

How do we define ‘responsive design’?

In basic terms, responsive design can be explained as building websites that provide an optimal viewing experience on a wide range of mobile, tablet, phablet, laptop and PC devices. To get that great user experience on all of these, the site will need to be easy to read and navigate without the need for resizing, pinching/zooming, panning, and scrolling.
With mobile internet access and online shopping growing exponentially on smartphones and tablets, your site should now be designed for ‘mobile first’. It makes sense as you need to cater for the growing number of people interacting this way. Put simply, it’s good for business.

To start with, try to de-clutter your site. Check your analytics for popular pages and remove or combine those that aren’t serving a purpose.  Review your menu options, not only the number of them, but the wording. Keep menu options short and to the point, and put them in a logical running order.

These are important as once your site goes from laptop to mobile, the navigation menu will increase in priority, and your content will start to stack on top of each other, so the more relevant it all is the better. Your web designer will also make your site work if the phone or tablet is turned on its side, so designing for the orientation of the device will be taken in to account.

Any link buttons and menu options need to be of a reasonable size, think of the app icons on your phone, these are a good guide. Text on the pages needs to be of a reasonable size so customers don’t have to pinch and zoom to read about you, contact you or buy from your site.

In short, the aim of responsive design is to have your site, or your email marketing campaign, look fabulous on pretty much any device. For many companies, designing a site this way will preclude the need for separate ‘apps’ or different versions of the site.

However, there may still be the need for an app. Responsive design might not be the panacea for all businesses and there may be room for a separate app as well. For example, if you have one particular type of interaction such as a calculator or shopping channel, or you need to use geo-location, then the app could just focus on this one aspect. The good thing here is they are on your customers’ devices and are just one click away and they may not need an internet connection to be used. But remember, apps don’t help with SEO, and you’ll have to promote them directly to your audience, at some cost.

There are many other arguments for and against having both, but the core company website should be ‘responsive’. And now’s the time to make that happen.