Tip 1: Branding is so much more than a logo
A new logo is what some people mean by ‘we want a new brand’. Your logo might identify your company, but branding is much more visceral – it’s the emotional connection to a company, encompassing every touchpoint you have with a company on any level.
Good branding begins with strategy, not artwork and colours. Great brand architecture helps you connect and share your story with others, bringing them closer. A memorable logo, which one day might make you instantly identifiable, is purely a visual representation of your brand. You can enhance your brand identity with visuals, language and colours – but these are supporting elements, not your brand itself.
Think about what’s at the root of your brand. At the core, it’s about who you are and how you do business. It’s the foundation of your business. Every time you email, Instagram, speak, answer the phone, send an email, sign a contract – you influence the perception of your brand.
Every brand touchpoint matters. Even reading this, you’re gaining perceptions about Energy Creative, what we do and how we do it (hello!)
Tip 2: Imperfection can make a design look perfect
Life isn’t pixel-perfect and sometimes visuals that are mathematically correct aren’t always optically correct.
Imperfections can add character to a design. The face of the Starbucks mermaid isn’t symmetrical. Google’s G isn’t round: they have changed a perfect circle to be slightly elongated. Have another look – you’ll have to concentrate to see the difference!
Tip 3: Words have power. Choose them well
Keywords are the terms that people enter into search engines to find you. It’s a delicate process, but selecting the relevant keywords for your marketing efforts will help you reach the customers that you want when you want. It’s not a one-off process – you’ll need to keep reviewing those keywords and amending your website and copy across your different channels. However, be careful – make sure your posts sound natural and not as if you’ve just swallowed a dictionary!
Tip 4: #Getsocial
Social media can be daunting, particularly when you feel like you are putting yourself out there and no-one is interested. It can start to feel disheartening and as a result, you dial down the social media activity. Don’t give up – one simple tip is to make sure you are using keyword hashtags that people will pick up, instead of super long ones that are actually irrelevant to everyone else – this will boost your engagement, especially on Instagram!
Tip 5: What if the BBC was a fruit?
If you’ve not come across the irreverent comedy mockumentary W1A yet, we’d urge you to check it out. The BBC has excelled with this show, which follows the antics of their leadership team whilst lampooning all we fondly imagine to know about Auntie.
Ok. So, here’s the thing.
Everyone who works in marketing and PR has pretty much come across a Siobhan Sharpe of their own. With very little idea about what the BBC does – or, indeed, what makes for good PR, marketing and branding – Siobhan is both hilarious and difficult to watch at the same time.
In true PR style, we dug deep into our knowledge of W1A to give you the lessons we’ve learnt from watching the marketing and PR guru from Perfect Curve take on the BBC:
- Stop talking gibberish: “Marketing speak” isn’t necessary.
- Pay attention: When you’re with a client or working on their account, give it your all.
- Know your audience: If you don’t know who or what your client is talking about, ask.
- Keep it snappy: less is more
- Youth speak isn’t cool
- Kooky outfits do not a creative make: nor does it make you into a hipster.
Marketing doesn’t need to try so hard to be cool that it’s painful. When you get it right, the results speak for themselves.
Tip 6: Integrate your marketing channels
Social media has radically changed the face of marketing.
Yet posting and interacting on social media – and the myriad of channels available – can suck up a lot of time. Face it, a lot of us don’t have the time to keep up with our own social media, let alone devote our attention to running or inputting into a company’s channels.
One of the easiest ways to claw back time (apart from handing it over to an agency you trust to manage your accounts!) is to link them all, saving yourself time and effort. For example, Instagram allows you to post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time once the accounts are linked… genius!
Tip 7: Don’t panic, Captain Mainwaring
Events can be a minefield if you’re new to exhibiting. You book space at an industry event, months before it opens its doors, then get on with business as usual. All of a sudden, you realise that the event is less than two weeks away, you’ve no brochures, no one knows you are going to be there and the promised stand is just a shell scheme. Oh, and you missed the health and safety form deadline…
That’s how we met one of our clients. They phoned up in a panic, with 12 days to go, having googled for local marketing agencies. We went to see them that very afternoon, and by 5pm we’d swung into action. We delivered an event that exceeded their expectations and started an ongoing relationship that we still enjoy today. Only now, there’s a lot less panic!
Tip 8: Think audience, not customers
Content marketing is incredibly tactical these days, and all too often we see content which isn’t hitting the mark. One of the main reasons for this? The content has been created with the company in mind, not the audience it’s pushed out to. Define your audience before you start to produce content. That way you’ll understand them and be able to address their needs and concerns. Write for your audience – and whilst you’re at it, create content which is compelling, engaging and aligned with your brand to drive visitors. Great content strategy includes a mix of pieces – try some video posts, create quick lists or test out some more ‘snackable’ content pieces.
If that all sounds too marketing for you, think about how you interact with brands and what you perceive as added value.
Tip 9: The importance of typography
Like so many other brand elements, the style of typography you decide upon is extremely important.
Typography is one of the major sources of information about your brand. It needs to work across a number of different platforms and balance with your graphics to add value to your text. The right font can prove to be vital in attracting and holding your target audience.
Is your company reliable, traditional and mature or casual, fun and quirky? Different font styles can evoke different emotions, impacting the way individuals feel about your brand and content. Your choice of font will say a lot to your target market before you have even finished typing your first sentence.
But the real question is, does your font say what you want it to?
Tip 10: Embrace technology
Did you know that 79% of internet users do some form of online shopping? Yet PayPal’s recent survey found that only 18% of websites belonging to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) are mobile optimised.
With online shopping worth £27bn in 2017, that’s a huge slice of the pie to miss out on.
Mobile is the key growth area for online spending. Don’t risk being left behind – the market is set to grow to £42bn by 2020.
Tip 11: The clock is ticking
Love them or loathe them, Starbucks, Apple, Nike and Coca Cola’s logos are all instantly recognisable. They are also logos that have been reimagined and honed over the years until they work for the modern market. That’s the ideal scenario.
The reality is that sometimes, for reasons outside their control, clients need a new brand – yesterday. This happened recently with one of our professional service clients, who called us in on a Friday to tell us they needed a rebrand for a service line by the following Wednesday. We delivered a new brand on time whilst working alongside their marketing team to assist with implementation. It’s not ideal, but it’s amazing what can be done when business-critical deadlines are looming.
Tip 12: Brand consistency – what is it and why do you need it
It doesn’t matter what size your business is. Developing and maintaining a brand that is consistent across different channels, whether it is applied to words or images, will drive your business identity. Reflecting your brand values in everything that you do – from presentations to email signatures, answering the phone to your latest advertising campaign – will help communicate all about your business, build trust, drive loyalty and help differentiate you from the competition. Whether you are working with words or images, what’s important is that you adhere to the brand, formatting, grammar, font there’s a reason why brand guidelines exist!
Get it right and you add to the value of your brand. Get it wrong, and you can devalue months of effort.
Ironically enough, it can be hardest to maintain a brand when you are going through a period of significant growth. New people come into the business, adding some great ideas BUT this can dilute your focus and messaging. On the other hand, it might be the nudge you need to reposition and grow your brand along with your business.
Tip 13: Help! I need somebody
5 signs it’s time to hire a marketing agency
How do you know when it’s time to stop trying to do everything yourself? It can be hard to let go, particularly if you’ve been the one who has been multitasking and juggling to deliver everything. Working with a marketing agency doesn’t mean you have to hand over everything – it’s always good to try out a new agency with a standalone project to find out how you work together. These are just some of the reasons our clients came to us in the first place:
- Yeah, whatevs
If you don’t enjoy marketing, it shows. Trust us. It’s our passion – and that shows in our work. A passion for marketing and good service coupled with your knowledge and experience makes for awesome results.
- There’s always something better to do
Never find time to update your social media or create a new page for your website?
If marketing always ends up at the bottom of your To-Do list, it’s time to outsource what you can.
- It’s not what they do
Believe it or not, marketing isn’t something that everyone can do. Sure, people can learn the skills, but unless you have the time (see point 2) or the passion (point 1) then it begs the question of whether you are the best person to do it.
- It is what they do but they’re at full capacity
Marketing teams can be called upon to deliver a vast range of support to a business. Therefore, it stands to reason that they can’t do everything! We top up our clients when they’re stretched to full capacity or when they need to bring in a team to deliver a specific project such as an Annual Report.
- You need loads of different marketing skills but haven’t got the budget
Would your website benefit from the input of a developer, a designer, a creative director, some fresh imagery? Is your need greater, and you’re looking for an overarching strategy through to content to direct implementation? You’d never get all that from just one person – but you can get it all from one agency.
Tip 14: Great quotes from great folks
It’s amazing where you can get your campaign inspiration from. We’re often surprised by what can spark off a chain of creativity! Here are some of our favourite quotes from a few of the people who have shaped the world we live in. Tweet us your favourites on @addaspark – we’d love to hear from you!
“Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.” David Ogilvy
“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.” Robert Rose
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein
“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic…” Albus Dumbledore
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Peter Drucker
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” Scott Cook
“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” Coco Chanel
Tip 15: Get out your magnifying glass
Sleuthing skills required
When discussing briefs with clients, it’s time to turn detective.
Discovering the real brief and agenda for a potential project will ensure you are in a position to deliver added value, as well as what your client actually needs. Pertinent questions can uncover surprising answers – and you can end up talking yourself out of a job if you don’t believe that what the client is asking for is what they need.
Going beyond the standard ‘requests for information’ and questioning the brief itself may seem counterintuitive, but it will result in a better project and a closer client relationship.
It may not need to do this for every project, but you do need an understanding of where your contribution lies within the wider business context to make sure you deliver effectively.
I’m hearing what you’re saying
Shh! I’m trying to listen!
Being mindful about the way we listen and giving the speaker our full, undivided attention is a specific communication tool which is often underused.
Listening is one of the least developed of our senses, yet it is an incredibly powerful tool. Think about how valuable it is to have someone’s undivided attention. Active listening is no longer a concept in a management book, it’s now necessary to cut out the noise of the world we live in.
Digital distraction is all around us – from the ‘need’ for persistent email checking to the 277,000 Tweets and 2.46 million posts made every minute.
It’s time to focus and cut out the noise. Put down your phone, step away from your laptop, and engage in active listening.
It’s amazing what you can hear.
Tip 17: Rising up the rankings
What’s the first thing you do when you want to find out something? Chances are that you Google it. According to research from online advertising network Chitika, 92% of all web traffic is generated from the first Google search results page. So, it doesn’t take much to work out that if you want your share of the market, the first page of Google is where you need to be.
The key to getting there is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for the searches you consider relevant to your business. Search engines like Google and Bing rank your website based on a host of factors, which are updated constantly. Mobile optimisation, title tags and content keywords are a good place to start. But once you’ve got all those in place, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels. You need to keep your website up to date, revising content and refreshing imagery to stay at the top of the page. With constantly changing algorithms, Google certainly likes to keep businesses on their toes when it comes to maintaining or improving their rankings. Some refer to it as the ‘dark art’ of marketing!
Tip 18: Your starter for ten
Is your website working for you?
When a client comes to us and requests a new website, our first question is, “what do you need your website to deliver?” The answer to this question forms the basis for nearly every aspect of our web design process. For some it might be sign-ups to an event, for others, it’s to act as a source of information. Often, it’s to highlight a call to action, to funnel people into making a conscious decision.
Of course, what you want your website to deliver should also be taken into consideration, however, need and want are not necessarily the same thing!
Yet no matter what you need and want, there are still some basic principles we abide by. In our opinion, a good website should tell your story, show visitors who you are, be intuitive to use and suit your audience – oh, and it also needs to look great. Whilst delivering a fantastic customer experience and doing what you need it to.
Tip 19: Ever considered co-branding
Co-branding is a strategic marketing partnership between two brands to bring success to both parties. Bringing together two brands for mutual benefit can be a way to build business, reach new audiences, boost overall awareness, and break into new markets. Or it can just be very, very cool. Check out the partnerships we think turned out to be the perfect match:
- RedBull & GoPro
- Uber & Spotify
- Nike & Apple
- Kate Moss & Top Shop
- BMW & Louis Vuitton
Who would you love to collaborate with to add a spark to your business? Let us know if we can help you!
Tip 20: Thinking of calling in a marketing agency
Modern marketing agencies come in all manner of shapes and sizes and can bring in all sorts of different elements. With an increasingly blurred line between services, deciding which direction to go in and who to pick can be a daunting task. Today’s top tip is to work your way through the below-thought process before you call a marketing agency – whether it’s to work with them as part of your team or to act as outsourced support.
You’ll need to consider experience, portfolio, client mix and reputation – but before you get to the stage where you pick up the phone or Google ‘how to find a marketing agency’, then have a think about the following four steps.
- Step one: Identify your service need(s). Marketing agencies can cover a myriad of marketing specialisms. Do you need advertising? PR? Marketing strategy? Branding? For example, there’s no point in going to a digital agency if what you need is corporate brochures for an event. What are the core competencies you’re looking for?
- Step two: Evaluate what expertise you need. What skills or expertise would your team or business benefit from? An agency with a wide remit can help you gain a fresh perspective and even find new angles to approach. Are you looking for a strategic partner, who can bring commercial experience and challenge, stretch and add value? Or do you need someone who will deliver purely to your requirements and
- Step three: Understand your vision. What does success look like for you? How will going to an agency help you achieve your goals? What do you want to learn from working with an agency?
- Step four: What does the approval process look like for you? Nothing ratchets up costs and is more harmful to an ongoing relationship than continual changes to a project. Decide who your approver is, and where the buck stops. How do you want the relationship to work?
Some say finding a marketing agency is like finding a needle in a haystack. We say it needn’t be that complicated. If you believe in each other and want to work together, you’ll find a way.
Tip 21: Never, ever, assume you know your market
9 out of 10 cats agree that data drives effective marketing*. Understanding the statistics from market research is key to the success of any marketing campaign and will determine your market potential. Without research, you’re not going to be able to position yourselves to reach the right audience and maximise your profit. You may think you know your market, their habits, what they read and where they go. But, if your sales aren’t coming through and you feel like you’re shouting into the ether, it’s time for a sense check. Conduct a poll, pick up the phone, ask Twitter, instruct Mori, create a SurveyMonkey account – whatever you do, remember this:
Understand the sample size, out of any data presented.
That alone can make or break an analysis. Too small, and the sample may not be representative and your results may not be significant. Too large, and the resultant mass of data will overwhelm you. You can read many things into data, but what you can’t do is argue with the number of people who have been asked for their opinion.
Think of the back of a shampoo bottle or the adverts which quote statistics along the lines of ‘X% of Y respondents agree’. Or, indeed, the number of cats which agree that data drives effective marketing.
*this is purely speculative and not tested. Our cats weren’t having any of it when we asked them.
Tip 22: Give me some space!
A bit of elbow room can make all the difference to your marketing material and designs, even for newsletters and emails. The space around your logo, between your graphics, your columns, lines of text, and even font characters all need to be considered when creating a layout.
‘White space’ is the gap between the layout’s elements and, to be a little more confusing, doesn’t have to be white. ‘White space’ can be any colour, a texture or background image. Sometimes better referred to as ‘negative space’, it gives your eyes a break from the visual elements of your layout.
The purpose of negative space is to provide legibility, separate and group elements, and help guide the user through your content.
So next time you are faced with a blank page, consider which areas are going to remain that way. When it comes to design, less really can be more.
Tip 23: What’s in a name?
A name represents a lot about a company and brand. Your own name forms an important part of our personal brand – just think about the hundreds of websites and books dedicated to helping parents find the perfect name for their children.
Yet, all too often, companies fail to pay attention to their name and the perception the market will have of them as a result. Just like names, fashions change over time. What worked 20 years ago may not work now, and perhaps it’s time to evolve from the initials of your founder or association with one particular geography.
Pick the wrong name and you’re shutting the door on potential business from day one. Pick the right name and you’ll be one step ahead before you’ve even begun.
When coming up with a new name, run it through these checks:
- Does it pass the phone test? ‘Energy Creative, how may I help?’
- Can people spell it? Otherwise, your SEO is going to be a real challenge.
- How does the name look when written down? It’s always worth checking what it looks like. Different scripts can change the way it is perceived. Whilst we’re at it – a play on words isn’t necessarily clever.
- Does it resonate with your brand values? The right name should encapsulate your vision and values, not work against them.
- Will it work with your domain name? And social media handles? Check availability before you go too far down the branding process. It doesn’t need to match directly (B&Q’s diy.com springs to mind) but you need to be able to pair your brand development strategy with a digital strategy that makes sense.
- What other businesses are out there with the same or similar names? You don’t want to get caught up in legal issues, or have to repeat ‘No, not THAT XYZ.’
Tip 24: GDPR – it matters to all of us
There’s only one tip today. It’s that you should complete a GDPR course.
The new legislation, which comes into force on 25 May 2018, affects everyone on both a personal and professional level. Non-compliance could result in fines of up to €20m, or 4% of global group turnover – and you must be ready for the new law to come into force.
Lack of awareness is no defence of the law, folks!
Tip 25: Stop! Wait a minute
It’s tempting to dive headlong into the myriad of different social media channels, signing up to YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Periscope… the list seems endless and is growing all the time. Yet not every channel is right for every business.
You really don’t need to be on them all.
Not only will social media management suck up time, but it’s not necessarily the best move for your brand. Today’s top tip is to stop, think, and take a moment to realise where your audience is – that’s where you need to be. Your audience is likely to be on two or three channels, so that’s where you should be too. Just as long as that aligns with your business goals, and you’re prepared to be in it for the long haul. Building a brand on social media takes time, creativity and constant management, so return on investment can be unpredictable.
Figure out where to put your efforts for the greatest return, rather than because you think you should be on yet more channels. Sometimes, less is more.
Tip 26: Take time to define
What is added value? In marketing terms, added value is about delivering an intangible value that cannot be bought. It might be great service, fantastic communication, free resources, a great seminar schedule, or the way in which you pay attention to minor detail.
Today’s top tip is to take the time to figure out what your audience perceives as value, and work out how you can add to it.
Seeing your business through the eyes of your customers will help you acquire and retain an audience. It can also help differentiate you in the market and increase your brand awareness, so it’s an important tool in your business strategy.
Tip 27: Which file format should you use – JPEG, GIF or PNG
The graphical world can be complicated with lots of confusing terminologies. There’s a myriad of file formats and it’s hard to know when you need to use them. When considering which file formats to use online you need to consider the file types abilities and balance quality with file size.
In today’s tip, we are going to focus on JPEG, GIF and PNGs which are all raster graphic files, composed of pixels, as opposed to vector graphics, which are composed of paths. The main differences between JPEG, GIF and PNG files are colour range, transparency, ability to animate, compression and file size.
JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) have the following characteristics:
- millions of colours
- doesn’t allow transparency
- can’t be animated
- lossy compression, which means that data is discarded during compression
- small file size, based on the level of compression
GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) have the following characteristics:
- 256 colours
- transparency of a single colour
- can be animated
- lossless compression
- potentially small file size – due to a limited colour palette
To make matters even more confusing, PNG is split into two types. There’s PNG-8, which share a lot of characteristics with GIFs; and PNG-24, which share characteristics with JPEGs.
PNG-8 (Portable Network Graphics) have the following characteristics:
- 256 colours
- better transparency but still limited
- can’t be animated
- lossless compression
- potentially slightly smaller file sizes than GIFs
PNG-24 (Portable Network Graphics) have the following characteristics:
- millions of colours
- transparency capable of fading
- can’t be animated
- lossless compression
- range of file sizes
JPEGs are great for photos and complex images. The lossy compression means that you can reduce the size of the file without removing much visible quality. The visual quality is rivalled by PNG-24, but PNG-24 as a lossless compression can’t compete on file size.
GIFs are really useful for simple animations, which the other formats covered here don’t offer. They are also good for small flat icons, but in most cases, we would use a PNG-8, as the file size is generally slightly smaller.
PNG-8 are limited in their range of colour, but work well for simple icons. PNG-24, with their huge colour range, are great for more complex icons, logos, simple graphics, and graphics that require transparency.
Tip 28: Who, where, what, when, why
Have you got something to shout about? Want to send out a press release, but not sure where to start? Writing a press release isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Some clear rules apply to press releases, from structure to angles. Not only has your content to be newsworthy and engaging, it also needs to be in a format that makes it easy for journalists to use. Keep your copy tight, your sentences punchy and get your facts right. Oh, and ideally you need to tell your story in less than 500 words.
Sound complicated? Use this list as a starting point:
- Is there news value in this story? What’s the human interest angle? How will it impact individuals?
- What’s the audience and what do they need to know? You might want to put out different versions of your release depending upon which channel you’re targeting.
- What’s my headline? Keep it simple and make it a hook into the rest of the story. Journalists are pelted with emails – you need to make yours stand out.
- How’s my first paragraph? This is all important and needs to contain the salient information, including key facts and figures.
- Have I got the structure right? Present your information in the right way and you’re halfway there to getting your release published.
- Do the quotes add interest and information? Too bland, or too over the top, and they won’t be included.
- What images am I including with this release? These should be high quality and clearly captioned.
- What’s the timescale? Is this for immediate release or under embargo? Can I meet the print deadlines of my target publications?
- Is my boilerplate doing what it needs to? If a journalist can’t get hold of the right information or the right person to speak to, they may well drop the story. Make sure your boilerplate template is up to date and includes the relevant contact details.
Tip 29: Red to me?
Colours can evoke very different emotions in viewers. The colours you choose for your brand will create perceptions about your company and how it operates. Today’s tip is to spend some time thinking about your brand colours – and, of course, have some!
Let’s cover the primary colours:
- Red is a strong colour. It draws attention and is domineering, often linked to feelings of aggression, strength and danger, but also love and passion. In the UK, we use red as warnings on road signs and for stop at traffic lights, but it’s also the colour used to represent Valentine’s Day and romance. We would suggest it’s great if you want to pack a punch, but otherwise is best left in small quantities.
- Yellow evokes immediate ideas of happiness and sunshine, making us feel positive and enthusiastic. Like red, yellow also tends to draw the eye, but in a softer, warmer manner. Bear in mind, though, that in the Middle East and Latin America, yellow can also represent mourning, so it doesn’t signify happiness everywhere.
- Blue is often cited as the most common ‘favourite’ colour. As the colour of the sky and sea, blue is seen as a very natural colour, and therefore evokes feelings of trust and dependability. Blue can, however, be thought of as cold and unwelcoming, so if you choose to include a blue in your company colour palette, pick the hue with care!
As we are all aware, there isn’t one single red, yellow and blue. The colour wheel offers an entire array to choose from, and tint, shading and tone all play a significant role in the way we perceive colours.
Tip 30: Last but not least
It’s been thirty days of top tips and we hope you’ve enjoyed them all.
We’ve compiled our ultimate top ten below.
- Get to know your customer – without knowing them you can’t market to them.
- Focus on benefits, not features – start helping, not selling.
- Develop a customer experience which is memorable for all the right reasons.
- Test, test and test again – never assume you know something.
- Engage as well as communicate – both internally and externally.
- There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to marketing. Every business is different and deserves a bespoke marketing solution.
- Consistency is key to a good brand – the customer experience should be seamless at every touchpoint.
- Optimise your website. You’re missing out if you don’t.
- Pay attention! Marketing is vital for every business. Don’t squeeze it in at the end of meetings or push out your marketing team – they need to be aware of your business goals and aspirations, or they can’t help you get there.
- Never stop! Marketing is an ongoing requirement and shouldn’t just be done when things are quiet. Keep getting your messages out there and invest in it. it’ll repay you.
Thanks for reading! We really are here to help, if your business is in need of a little spark – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you.