How to Build A Brand from Scratch

Blogging, brand reputation, branded content, building brand trust, code of conduct, content writing, entepreneur, Guiding Principles for Success, Marketing Strategy, website design
When building brand awareness, aim for collaboration over self-promotion.
When building a brand voice, shoot for sincerity over originality.
Worry less about being authentic and more about being honest and sincere.
Monday Motivation

It’s So Not About You

Guiding Principles for Success, Real Time Marketing, Star Powered PR, Storytelling

It may seem like common sense, but the same bad story pitching keeps popping up everywhere.

Rule #1 when reaching out to a media outlet, a journalist, a reporter or directly to your audience, remember it is not about YOU, it’s about the value you bring to solve the problem that the television viewer, the magazine reader, the blog follower and the Facebook fan had in the first place.

Focus on them. Not on you. More tips on pitching yourself as an expert @Forbesphoto-5

http://onforb.es/1AC0ddX

Best Branding and PR Practices

brand reputation, Guiding Principles for Success, Marketing Trends, PR Agency, Public Relations Plan, Star Powered PR, Uncatergorized
Winning Brand Strategies

Winning Brand Strategies

If you are about to jump on the roller coaster ride of starting a new company,  here are a few best practices for building your new brand.

1. Continually know what’s trending in your competitive space. Services and sites like Trendhunter Pro, WGSN and StyleSite can give you insight into what’s hot and what might just be on its way down. Stay fresh.

2. Actively focus on your customer, each day and every day. Who are they? What do they do with their time? How do they find you? Tweet at them. Engage on Facebook. Incorporate what they like and change-up what they don’t about your product or service. Listen carefully, always actively listen. And then change for the better. Same goes for journalists, reporters, editors in your industry. Listen to their constructive criticism. Ask them to be candid. This will only help you become a stronger competitor.

3. Analyze all possible areas of distribution. Is it a mix of e-commerce and/or retail stores? A pop-up strategy perhaps? Maybe a collaborative store within a store?  Just make sure you are where you need to be. Where new customers can easily find your products and services. Oh, and are you prepared for mobile? See what Forbes calls the most important trends in retail for 2013 here.

4. Tweak your product concept. If you’re not first to market, than what really makes your hot thing super unique? Is it a key ingredient? Special benefit? Stand out and stand apart to attract your target market.

5. Think about your brand voice. Is it friendly? Super luxurious? Clinical and effective? Have you positioned your brand as a “voice of authority” or are you the best friend sharing great advice?

6. Does the design of your product, packaging, website convey what you really want to say? Is it consistent? A brand map will keep you on track. Designing for your market is one of the key factors for success and probably the biggest challenge for most new businesses.

7. Promote your brand by sharing the key messages and benefits of your product and or service. Write down all of the key components that make your brand ultra special.

Want more tips? Branding and PR advice? Leave a message, we are here to help.

Words of Wisdom for Successful Start ups

brand management, customer loyalty, Guiding Principles for Success, marketing rituals, Start up Success

According to Brian Cohen  of New York Angels, a member led organization committed to finding, funding and mentoring great young companies from pitch through a successful exit, two big problems with entrepreneurs and start ups-

1. Lack of thinking behind their product –

2. which is usually caused by little knowledge about their customers.

Simply put, their product offering is just not thoughtful enough.

His word of advice for those starting a business –

The more time you  spend with your customer, guaranteed the more successful you will be.

More from Brian @brianscohen

Successful Creative Collaboration

creative collaboration, Guiding Principles for Success, social media marketing, workforce training

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin.

In order to move forward in today’s connected world, companies large and small are collaborating for sustainable solutions and true progress. We collaborate daily with our clients. Here we outline some of the guiding principles for successful creative collaboration.

1. We have to begin each project believing that everyone involved is bright, eager, and willing to come to the table with fresh new ideas. In order for this to happen, each collaborative member must be reliable and consistent in their behavior to build trust among the group.

2. Everyone on the collaborative team must agree to a common vision and mission – with everyone moving in the same direction and with the same agenda.

3. All should make an honest attempt to understand what energizes and motivates each and everyone one. It is important to identify everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and how they might affect the solutions and outcome.

4. It’s a good idea to ceate a list of expectations and manage these expectations before you begin. Ask questions like –

What is expected from us?  What tools do we use to meet those expectations? How do we manage expectations? Unmet expectations can add incredible strain to a collaborative effort. Each member should clearly understand what is expected of them and keep focused on accomplishing those tasks.

5. In order to move forward in a productive way, everyone should appreciate the complementary strengths from each team member and work towards building mutual trust among all members.

6. The collaborative effort will go no where without honest communication. All should agree to open and honest communication with regularly scheduled meetings.There must be a plan that includes the day-to-day management of strategy and implementation.

7. Although it may seem rather formal, creating an agreement in writing, that everyone can refer to, is an ideal tool for staying the course when the road get’s foggy and the vision is lost.

8.When things get heated up, remember that points of contention can make the collaboration stronger. There must be a willingness to ride out the rough patches as well as a fair division of work and benefits.

10. Try to remember that the team can make a lot less mistakes by bouncing ideas off each other first. Everyone must be adaptable and flexible but stay true to the collaboration’s mission and vision.

11. It is okay to disagree. Remember that you can work out problems with more robust solutions if you understand that disagreeing is not a problem, but the beginning of a solution.

12. Don’t let bad feelings build. Put out fires before they begin. We are human and we will let emotions get in the way. Being kind and respectful to everyone on the team is crucial.

13. Even though you all came together with the intentions of creating solutions, it is a good idea to develop an exit strategy before you even begin.

Read more on successful collaboration here written by Francine Allaire, revenue acceleration strategist.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger PR

Guiding Principles for Success, PR Agency, press liaison, Uncatergorized

 

If you are going to be proactive about getting earned media attention (editorial coverage), than you need to be prepared. Run through your company with a check list and decide what needs to be improved upon before you pimp yourself out to the media.

Before this, you probably were reactive to the writers that contacted you. If someone called and requested an interview for a story, you either complied or denied. You probably missed a view good opportunities along the way as well.

Pick Your Spots

You decide which media outlets (magazines/TV/newspapers and radio) you would like to see your company featured in and invite them to meet the key players.

Make a list of potential columns, sections and segments of the publications and television shows where you think your business or your expertise can contribute newsworthy information.

  • Be sure to appoint interviewees/representatives from the company. Don’t let just anyone be interviewed. Not everyone is good on camera and not everyone communicates your message well. 

Skip the Tricky Questions

Remember, you do not have to answer every single question a writer asks,  especially financial questions. If you do not want to answer a question, you can simply say, “we cannot comment on that”, but be prepared.

  • If you are opening up your doors to a reporter, make sure all company members that are being interviewed for a story have consistent answers. Nobody should contradict any one else. That will be one big red flag.

Whenever you are in doubt about how to answer, tell the reporter you will need to get back to them.  Don’t let anyone put you on the spot.

  • Never feel rushed into answering anything.

 

As far as financials go, you can give percentages of growth, but remember you should be able to back all big claims if you are going to make them.

  • Reporters and journalists can be very skeptical. They are trained to look for problems. They want a balanced story and will look to show the good, the bad and the ugly. The upside and the downside.  It won’t be “all positive”. That’s why it’s not an advertisement that you wrote. It’s called editorial coverage.

 In order to simplify the process, it’s best to consider all possible questions that will be asked. Think like a journalist. Write down the nosiest questions you can dream up. You and your team can then meet together to discuss the answers to these questions and you should write them down, exactly how you would like to see them in print. It is important that everyone in the company is on the same page.

 If you decide do not want to answer a question, be sure to left everyone know – We will not be answering any questions like (give them clear-cut examples).

From Inspiration to Execution – Empowering Indie Fashion

Fashion Marketing, Guiding Principles for Success, Uncatergorized

 Inspiration to Execution was  hosted by Afingo and moderated by Britt Aboutaleb, Style News Editor of Elle.com last night at the Soho House in NY.

Afingo  is the ultimate designer resource, helping designers and retailers gain access to expert content with insider tools and industry connections to take your ideas from sketch to sale. Their sister site, Shoptoko gives independent retailers the power to access exclusive merchandise at the majors’ pricing with no minimums.

Panelists discussed the pitfalls and promises of taking an inspired idea and transforming it into a functional, profitable fashion collection.

The big question: How do designers hone their creative process and ideas to a more manageable, sellable, marketable product?

Feeling inspired to launch your own collection? Than read these words of wisdom from those who have been there and back. Evidentially, if you are a designer and have made it past four or five seasons, than you’ve learned most of your lessons.

The panelists:

  • Liza Deyrmenjian Co-Founder and CEO Afingo and Shoptoko
  • Meredith Kahn, Designer, Made Her Think (see Sword accessory collection photo today)
  • Bethany Mayer, Designer, Surf Bazaar 
  • Duncan Quinn, Designer of bespoke men’s apparel by his name
  • Cynthia Vincent, Designer, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent

Tips and Advice from the experts-

  • Clothing is one of the most labor intensive products on the market, begin domestically with 12 to 15 merchandised pieces that tell a strong story. Producing stateside will empower you with maximum control.
  • Listen to your buyers and your customers to produce the most marketable collection possible.
  • When producing overseas (India, Portugal, China, wherever) don’t leave anything open to interpretation. Yes, it is possible to get a three-legged pant sample back.
  • Making things elsewhere is fun (read: exotic travel) but you lose control along the way.  If you are not perfectly clear, you may not get what you want.
  • Find a great agent and remember, the cheapest source is not necessarily the best.
  • Find the right people/company who can translate your dream. Cynthia has produced in almost every country in the world. Some just do certain things better. India for silks, Portugal for wovens, Brazil for leather, etc.
  • Make sure all details are written down and included in your tech pack and be sure to work off a time and action calendar.
  • Before you decide where to produce, look domestically. There are many hidden costs when producing overseas, including shipping, travel and sampling.
  • New word alert: “To Skive”  is to cut into thinner layers to bring down production costs. For example: Skive down a shoe design.
  • Find your garment cost by choosing something similar in your closet and dividing the retail price by 4.  Use this number as a guideline.
  • Reinvent your best sellers, as this is your bread and butter. Stop producing them for a season or two and then bring them back in different colors or  with a new design element.

PR that Transforms Brands

Beauty pr, Guiding Principles for Success, PR Agency, press liaison, Public Relations Plan, Uncatergorized

We often see companies create a “campaign” about their brand and place a time limit on promotion. This is only one strategy. Building buzz about your brand begins with the development and commitment of daily habits that continue to build awareness about your company’s products and services over the course of time.

Persistence and perseverance can help build a great long-term buzz-building public relations campaign that gets noticed and helps to continually spike sales.

Transforming PR Techniques

  • Commit to engaging with writers, reporters, bloggers and editors on a daily basis. At least two hours of your day should be spent marketing your core products and that includes “PR”. If you and your staff don’t have the time, than hire an agency or seasoned pro that can do it for you with discipline and intent.
  • Developing as many interesting and new solutions to every day challenges or problems. How can your product help the readers and viewers of specific media outlets over come popular problems that hamper there every day lives?
  • Continue with the creation of stories that offer solutions. Is your product a time saver? budget-friendly? a breakthrough innovation? Pitch each individually for inclusion of a variety of articles.
  • Following up daily with writers, editors and journalists after your first, second and even seventh call, tweet and email.

Building Brand Trust Begins in the Boardroom

brand reputation, building brand trust, code of conduct, Guiding Principles for Success, the future of branding, Uncatergorized

While many of us in the US are celebrating Independence Day today, we’re thinking about tomorrow, the start of a new work week and what we’d really like to be free from – the BS business speak that happens in boardrooms daily. Although we’d like to believe that the majority of our colleagues know that this business jargon does not necessarily assert intellectual authority, we wonder why it continues and how it could possibly lead to building brands that communicate clearly and effectively with their customers.

We declare our independence from the opposing words and phrases that cause confusion and help to ensure that nothing makes sense while creating a messy chain of misunderstanding.

So dear key team players and stakeholders, let’s get some traction on this, take a high-level approach and  push forward in a significant way and stage or own declaration of independence and revolt from –

  • redefining mission-critical deliverables
  • targeting virtual relationships
  • trying to power solve problems
  • syndicating cutting-edge markets
  • benchmarking turn-key interfaces
  • meshing real-time platforms
  • embracing real time infrastuctures
  • leveraging turn-key deliverables
We ask everyone to remain proactive as we simplify the way we strategically speak to each other. There will be no circling back on this initiative.
Amused? Feeling our pain? Check out the Web Economy BS Generator for more BS business speak. Have an early morning meeting tomorrow? Play Buzzword Bingo to get through the gruel.

And the list goes on – a few words we’d like to ban from the boardroom –

synergy, core competencies, end-to-end, facilitate and lead, identify potential, milestones and objectives, leverage, best practice

bench mark, value added, vision statement, fast track, cross functional

And BS job titles we think are ridiculous

  • Chief Optimization Agent
  • Forward Usability Associate
  • District Marketing Coordinator
  • Central Branding Assistant

Annoyed at branding and business speak? We hope so.

Buy Good, Feel Great Marketing

brand reputation, cause related campaigns, customer loyalty, Guiding Principles for Success, reputation management, Uncatergorized

Creating shared value is a partnership between corporations and consumers. Mindful marketing + mindful shopping habits might just mean a better tomorrow.  From the smallest of start-ups to the largest of corporate charity efforts and in the name of responsible consumption and making purchases that empower peace of mind. A few efforts inspiring us today.

Warby Parker Glasses offers an alternative to overpriced and less fashionable eyewear. Through their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program; they hope to serve the one billion people on earth who do not have access to glasses. According to Warby Parker a pair of glasses can often define one’s path either as a contributing member of the community or one subject to poverty.

Beach bags from Mombassa Drive. Their goal is to bring you products that support the people and environment of Africa.

Blissmo is a new flash-sale site where LOHAS-minded (Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability) shoppers can discover organic & eco-friendly products, They recently launched blissmobox, a monthly subscription service delivering curated boxes of well-loved organic & eco-friendly products by mail.

Pepsi is funding amazing ideas that refresh the world. Their campaign encourages communities to dream it, submit it, get enough votes 
and Pepsi promises to help make it happen.

Tom’s Shoes matches every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need.  Why? Because many children in developing countries grow up barefoot.

Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry is a national event that brings together thousands of restaurants and millions of consumers to help ensure no child in America grows up hungry. From September 18-24, 2011, participating restaurants will raise funds to support No Kid Hungry, Share Our Strength’s national campaign to end childhood hunger in America. In 2010, over 4,000 restaurants joined their sponsors and partners to raise more than $1.5 million.

Virgin Money Giving, the not-for-profit fundraising website (virginmoneygiving.com), announced a partnership with Virgin Atlantic and charity travel specialists Key Travel to offer special discount fares to fundraisers taking part in fundraising challenges overseas.