Brand is a Noun; Brand is a Verb

According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. Besides being a name, a brand may also be a symbol (The Coca-Cola Company), motto (Nike), color combination (Tiffany & Co.), and even a sound (NBC).

To distinguish between brand names or characteristics and the brand or branding process, brand is best defined by two of the eight parts of speech.

Brand is mostly used as a noun because it literally translates to the name of a person, place or thing. If a person, place or thing does not have a memorable name or other identifying characteristics, differentiation is limited as is consumer awareness and, subsequently, sales.

When used with an object, brand is also a verb. Although branding usually begins with a name or image, it continues with lights, cameras, and a whole lot of action!

History Repeating Itself

The original purpose for branding was to verify ownership. Ranchers used a hot iron to stamp or seal an image on cattle. Later, the process was transferred to packaged goods, furniture, clothing, and, unfortunately, people.

Although “people brands” are now more popular than livestock and other products, the branding process is relatively the same. Instead of using a hot iron to make an imprint or lasting impression, retailers now use a collection of experiences highlighted by brand characteristics.

Through repetition, a brand is “sealed” on consumer’s minds via the five senses.

By defining brand as a verb and a noun, value and resources are realized. How can brands convince consumers to engage then exchange value (cash, check or charge) in the marketplace?

Create a compelling name with equally compelling sights, sounds, scents, tastes, and touches. Seek not for an “aha” in your business, but an “ahh” from your customers.

How can brands brand successfully? Marketing via mass media and memorable methods will reinforce a brand.

Check out the original post on the GO.CO blog!








Why Your Company Can Benefit From Having a Twitter Account

It’s no surprise that Twitter poses a huge opportunity for small businesses. Its recent IPO valued the company at $24.9 billion.  The company has also showed explosive growth since it started with 231.7 million active users.

As a small business owner, looking to take a step into the world of social media, you should take advantage of what this channel has to offer your company, and expand your business’s reach one 120-character message at a time.

Continue reading, we have a variety of tips to getting your business Twitter account on the right track!

Giving customers immediate support

Having a Twitter account for your business is great for customer support. The beauty behind tweeting is interactions are quick, brief and much more personal than automated message machines or emails. Where responding to inquiries via email can be time consuming with formalities or sometimes perceived as impersonal, Twitter’s 120-character limit keeps responses to the point.

Because such a short time is needed to send a tweet, your responses must be prompt. Think of it this way, it takes a customer a mere 90 seconds to write a complaint – if your response time takes more than 24 hours, you could be leaving money on the table. Also, keep in mind that Twitter is a public forum; therefore your responses, as well as those of your customers, are broadcasted to the entire Internet.

Work this to your advantage. Responding in a friendly, conversational manner will earn followers, boost your credibility and build stronger relationships with your prospects and current customers.

Sales, promotions and discounts

Having active followers is the key to successful Twitter traction. How do I gain these followers, you ask? To start, it’s important to note that no one willingly follows a company to be bombarded by unrewarding advertisements. Your company’s social media content must be interesting and beneficial to your users.

Try tweeting conversational notes and discussion points that are relevant but not necessarily directly related to your business.

A great way to promote your business is to periodically have contests where followers retweet (RT) to win a prize. Below is an example of a RT contest EA held – within an hour and a half, they had over 550 RTs, furthering their reach with just one click!TweetExample

Keep up with the times

Maintaining followers is as important as attracting them. Keep your viewers on their toes by posting fresh, up-to-date content daily. Look for current events that relate to your business, and always look for new ways to relate to your audience.

A brilliant example of this was a post by Miller Lite following the TV show Breaking Bad’s series finale, which had a viewership of 10.3 million people.  The tweet caters to a specific audience and maintains a friendly sentiment, thereby giving a personality and gently opinion to the brand.

TweetExample

As you can see, Twitter is a great way to support customers, connect with prospects and let your company’s personality shine. Once you’ve thought out how you want to approach your Twitter channel, be sure to add Twitter posts to your social media content calendar to ensure your company doesn’t go a day without a tweet. Now get out there and start tweeting!

Check out the original post on the GO.CO blog!








Branding Your Big Idea

So you’ve got a brilliant idea, a show-stopper, and you’re ready to light the world on fire? Well, not so fast. First you’ve got to give that genius of yours a winning look. After all, we don’t go to the jewelry store to look at diamonds in the rough, right? We go to look at the shiny, sparkly, diamonds! (Well, I do, at least.)

The first piece of advice I have for anyone going out there for the first time is to really invest in the design. Do NOT have your cousin or your wife’s friend from work do it, unless they are paid full time in some capacity as a designer.

A good designer will have education in what makes good design, they will have proper designer software, and they will have the proper computer to create designs.

Make sure you entrust your big idea to a professional. This is your first impression they’re creating, and as we know, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Logo

Let’s start with the logo for your big idea or business. Choose some colors or logos that you like (or hate) and talk about it with your designer. The logos you present should be of similar business or market as yours – even if they’re examples of what NOT to do, it’ll be a good starting point.

Good logos have something in common, and that is that they help companies become recognizable brands, no matter where you see them. Good branding always has that familiarity associated with it. Your big idea needs that! It doesn’t, however, necessarily need a tagline. It just needs to represent you, and your brand, and what you’re trying to show the world. It also needs to really speak to your target audience, draw them in and entice them.

So how do you do that? Well, logos have 2 major elements, the icon and the text treatment.

Font

The font for the text should represent you well. Try to choose a professionally designed font. I’ve also been using fonts from Google Webfonts lately because they’re so easily embeddable into a website.

Why not choose a font you can carry over online? I mean, if nice ones are available for free, I say go for it. Fonts have all different personalities, from professional to fussy to sophisticated to sassy to casual. What are you trying to project?

Icon

The icon, or the graphic part of the logo should also represent you. Don’t just choose something meaningful. It needs to represent your idea well. You don’t want people looking at it wondering what the heck a white dove has to do with your financial services company.

Let the graphic help explain what it is you’re offering.

Logos don’t ALWAYS need a graphic, either. For example, for an event planner logo I designed, I just used some sparkly starry type graphics to shine up the text treatment. This explains her business without having to have some type of “event” graphic, like…I don’t know, a bow tie? Champagne glass? Too cliché! Old Navy’s logo is a great example of this. If your big idea doesn’t need an icon, then forget it!

Website

In my book, this comes way before the business card. Doing your website will help you get clear about your audience and business goals, since you’ll be writing your bio for the about page, your services out for the services page, or getting prototypes done for the shopping cart.

Whatever the biz, you need to get that website done, pronto. A typical website has about 5 pages minimum: Home, About, Services, a Portfolio/Photo Gallery/Links/Resources/Testimonials page, and a Contact page. You should be able to gather information for those five.

The website, like the logo, needs to be done by a professional. Even if that means you get a professional WordPress theme and have someone install and configure it for you, don’t go cheap.

I recommend WordPress for a variety of reasons but the bottom line is that you can manage the content yourself. And that is invaluable. Plus they look neat and are expandable. Ideally, you’ll want your Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile to be accessible from your site, and this is easiest in WordPress, in my experience.

Even if you don’t go WordPress, the site should represent you well. Like fonts, websites can give off a feel when you first pull it up – and sometimes that feel is new, technically savvy, warm and fuzzy, and sometimes, that feel is yikes or old-fashioned or unprofessional, if the site isn’t done right.

It should have the same colors/feel as the logo, and it should use a high resolution version of the logo and be placed in the upper left corner. If you represent fun, make sure your site is fun! If you represent law, make sure your website is stern and intellectual. Either way, you need to make sure it’s done right before you move on to print materials.

Business Cards

These days, your business card can have all sorts of neat graphics on them. You don’t have to have linen finish or raised print. There are amazing online printers out there that will print your 1000 business cards for about $40, full color, glossy, and with rounded corners. Of course your logo will go on the card, as well as your web address and email address.

A phone number is good too. Snail mail and fax number these days are totally optional – and lots of times including this info will take up valuable real estate on your 3.5 x 2 inch business card. You don’t need a tagline, just contact info and maybe a little info about what you’re peddling.

Logo, website, business cards. This is really all you need to start gaining momentum. It’s great to get started in social media, and there are great ways of branding those too. The main things to remember across all platforms are:

1.     Use similar fonts on each piece – the logo, website, and business card should all be using the same font;

2.     Use the same colors to keep the consistent feel;

3.     Make sure you’re always aiming those pieces at your target audience, no matter who it is. Speak to your customer!

Check out the original post on the GO.CO blog!








It’s All in a Name: How to Start Your Startup with the Best Possible Domain

Let’s face it, finding the right domain name for your startup isn’t easy. While definitely a challenge, there’s no need for you to fall victim to a bad name for your company.  Here’s some advice on why a good name matters — and some tips on selecting a domain name that will resonate positively with investors and consumers.

Stand the Test of Time

Whether you provide a product or service, or you’ve just developed the hottest app ever — your domain name matters.  Your name is often the first thing people see and hear when they learn about your offering – so it should be easy to say, spell, share and remember.  You need a name that will stand the test of time – after all, you’re building an empire that will be around for a long time to come!

Stand Out from the Pack

Think about it, there are thousands of new websites, businesses, brands and blogs launching every day. You need to be noticeable if you want have an impact on your target audience. Don’t settle or simply “make due” with some lame web address that your customers will never respect or remember.  If you’re lucky, your customers and prospects will be seeing, typing and/or clicking on your domain name thousands of times a day – so, keep brainstorming until you find “the one.”

Your name should be short, memorable and easily identifiable. Ideally, your name will reflect something about the core of your business – even if you have to add a splash of creativity to make it work, the way Zappos did by branding itself with variation of “zapatos,” the Spanish word for “shoes.”.

Stand Proud

When you launch a new company, you need a name you can feel proud of and stand behind.  You should never have to “explain” or “apologize for” your domain name – if you do – you’ve clearly chosen the wrong name!

A strong domain name will not only help you to attract and retain customers – but to attract investors who can help you to build your business.  It will tell investors that your company pays attention to detail and has taken into account your brand, marketing and design strategies from the start – instead of crossing your fingers and hoping you can secure the name you really want sometime in the future.

Ready to GO.CO?

When the time comes for you and your team to name your company, the place to start is GO.CO.  Powered by the incredible DomainsBot technology, and created for Startup Weekend participants, GO.CO will take any keyword or term that you are considering and suggest a host of available web addresses in various domain extensions.  It will even search to see if the corresponding Twitter handle and unique Facebook URL are available for the web addresses it suggests.

The GO.CO tool was launched to support entrepreneurs around the world who are looking for the perfect domain names to launch their new businesses.  Every big idea deserves to come to life on a great domain name.  If you’ve got a big idea, go to GO.CO – and give it a whirl!  If you like it, please share it with your friends and followers too – they’ll thank you.  I promise!

Check out the original post on the GO.CO blog!