Branding 101: Designing Your Brand Part 4

Branding 101: Designing Your Brand Part 4


The ‘identity system’ for your brand is the image you’re conveying to your customers. Mostly, it entails the visual design elements that you use consistently in all of your marketing to convey your brand message. The logo is one of them and arguably the most important, but there are others to consider as well.

These visual elements are used in:

• Marketing materials including books, pamphlets, flyers, websites, etc.
• Products and packaging
• Signs
• Communications such as email newsletters
• Clothing worn by employees, if applicable
• Stationery or any other office supplies you use

In other words, these visual elements should be included in everything your company does wherever possible. You may also include audio, such as a jingle or a tone like the Windows startup sound, a smell, touch or anything else that can communicate your brand.

Test each of these visual elements against your unique proposition and the promise your brand makes to your customers. Ask yourself whether they convey the message you want people to get when they encounter them. Your intuition can tell you if something is off, but it’s also good to ask colleagues and test your market. Again, you can get ideas from your competitors or brands you know and use.

The same basic guidelines apply to all of your branding design elements. Keep them simple and relevant. Make sure they communicate immediately with your market.

Wrapping Up Our 4-Part Series on Branding

You now understand the basics of branding and have a step-by-step guide to defining your brand and the design elements that will get it recognized.

Remember that branding is not simple. A good brand, logo, and identity take a great deal of time experimenting and refining your ideas until they’re perfect.

But this is no small consideration. Brand is everything. Devote the time and resources you need to creating a brand that’s powerful and effective.

Did You Miss It?

Part 1: Designing Your Brand
Part 2: Designing Your Brand Pt 2
Part 3: Designing Your Brand Pt 3

Branding 101: Designing Your Brand Part 3

Branding 101: Designing Your Brand Part 3


There are many ways you’ll communicate your brand to your customers, but one of the most powerful and important is your logo. Your logo is your calling card. It’s instantly recognizable and as soon as someone sees it, they make the connection to your brand.

A good place to start in creating your own logo is to consider some of the logos you’re most familiar with. Brainstorm recognizable logos, as well as the logos of brands you regularly use. Consider which you like and don’t like, and which are most effective at communicating to you.
Logos come in all shapes and sizes and there are no strict guidelines per se, but here are a few considerations.

Three Types of Logos

There are three kinds of logos: text logos, image logos, and abstract image logos. Some logos mix all three of these types.

A text logo is simple and just presents the name of the company or a letter associated with it. Think of Google’s simple lettering. Most companies use their name as a logo. Very recognizable brands like Apple or Starbucks can get away with using no text.

google logo

Image logos show an image related to the company. Examples are McDonalds’ golden arches and the apple that is Apple’s logo. Starbucks’ logo is a stretch but still related: Seattle, the hometown of the company, is a seaport and the logo is a siren beckoning sailors.

mcdonalds logo

An abstract symbol is something like Nike’s swoosh. It doesn’t say the company’s name or show an image related to the company, but somehow the movement of the swoosh communicates the brand’s message.

Logo Colors

The first thing to consider with colors is that most good, recognizable logos use only one or two colors. Simplicity is best.

The most used colors in brand logos are red, blue, and black or greyscale. However, many companies use other colors as well.

Colors need to be considered carefully because each color sparks certain associations in the mind. You want your logo’s colors to spark the associations you want to make and not something else.

Here’s a rundown on what, generally speaking, common colors mean to people:

Blue: Dependability, strength, calm.
Red: Attention-grabbing, energetic.
Green: Security, reliability, honesty, nature.
Pink, Yellow, and Orange: Excitement, youth, energy.
Brown: Dependable, simple, honest.
Black: Cool, sleek, high-tech.
White: Simple, pure.

Clean and Functional

Simple logos are best. Your logo should present a single image or word without any needless special effects that can distract from your message.

In addition to being clean, your logo also needs to be functional. What this means is that it’s easy to reproduce. Even if you use colors, it should look good in black and white because it won’t always be reproduced in color. Also make sure that your logo looks good whether big or small.
Invest the time, energy, money, and other resources in making the best logo possible. Your logo is extremely important for your branding and too many companies fail to put in the required effort.

Did You Miss It?

Part 1: Designing Your Brand
Part 2: Designing Your Brand Pt 2

Branding 101: Designing Your Brand Part 2

Branding 101: Designing Your Brand Part 2


Armed with a profile that describes your ideal customer, it’s time to define your brand. Defining your brand means clarifying exactly what it stands for.

This is what you want the customer to think when they encounter your brand. It could be a unique service, a better speed or price, higher quality, a product made just for their lifestyle, innovation, reliability, or anything else you want to be synonymous with your brand.

Remember that your brand can’t be all things to all people and in fact it shouldn’t be. It should deliver a clear message that resonates with your target market.

To define your brand, you need to come up with a unique value proposition. Your UVP is the promise you make to your customers. It’s a statement that’s as short as possible but includes exactly what makes you unique and tells people why they should buy from you.
You can’t expect someone to interact with your brand if you haven’t defined it clearly for them.

If you’ve conducted research well and heard from a large sample the reasons why they buy from you, this may not be hard to do.

There may be one particular benefit that you hear over and over from satisfied customers.

If not, it takes some brainstorming. Start by brainstorming with your team, considering the natural strengths of your products or services. You’re looking for one particular, natural strength that’s highly valuable to your customers and sets you apart from other similar companies.

Here are some questions to help you in your brainstorming:

• What do you do?

• What do you really do (in other words, what is the benefit to your customers)?

• What makes you different?

• What do you do better than the competition?

• Are there parts of the market you speak to but that your competitors don’t? Or are there parts of the market you’d like to speak to that they don’t?

• What do your customers or clients think about you?

• What are the goals of your business?

The second question above may be a bit confusing, so let me illustrate with an example. Let’s say you’re a car company that produces luxury sports cars. What you do is build high quality cars that are stylish and appeal to moderately wealthy customers. But what you really do might be something like offer freedom or make customers feel younger. Maybe you unlock the wild side within every suit-and-tie executive.

A restaurant may brand itself as a fun place that brings the family together. A gadget maker’s gadgets might put their users in touch with the entire world. Brands communicate benefits to customers, not so much what the product actually does.

Your brand is only as good as its perception. And you shape that.

Again, it may help to look at the competition in order to discover what your best qualities for your customers are.

Once you’ve identified the natural strengths that make your company unique and offer the benefits your customers are looking for, write it out in a simple statement. This is the basis of every decision you’ll make about your brand from here on.

Did You Miss It?

Part 1: Designing Your Brand

Branding 101: Designing Your Brand Part 1

Branding 101: Designing Your Brand Part 1


In order to speak well to your audience, you need to know them and understand them well. Branding happens inside their heads, so you need to know (to the best of your ability) what’s going on in there.

The best way to get to know your target market is to create a profile that describes them. This profile describes an individual who is your ideal customer. This isn’t guesswork. You arrive at your information for this profile by conducting market research.

The information you’re looking for includes:

• Demographic information about your customers such as age, gender, income level, family situation, location, etc.

• Psychographic data such as their worries, fears, self-image, attitudes, problems, etc.

• Shopping habits. What other brands do they buy from? Do they save or shop impulsively? Are they big spenders or cautious?

• What products and services they’d like to see in the world, or how the companies they currently buy from don’t meet their needs.

A good place to start with market research is with your existing customers, assuming you have some. If you do, try to find identifying features that most of them share. You may notice that most of them are female or that most are at a high socioeconomic level. If you already have customers, use them to create your profile. For any information you don’t know, ask them. Conduct surveys and give customers an incentive if necessary.

If you don’t currently have customers, or if you want more data than they offer, you can conduct market research on potential customers. Whether or not you have customers, this is a good idea since you want to increase your customer base.

There are two ways to conduct market research: directly and indirectly. First, let’s discuss indirect methods since they’re generally easier to carry out and put less strain on resources.

Indirect market research means basically being a fly on the wall. Find out where your potential buyers are and listen to them. This is incredibly easy and cost-effective today because of the Internet, which encourages people to talk and share their opinions.

Here are a few ways to gather this information:

Creating a profile of your ideal customer is the best way to start planning on how to best target them.

Online Forums. Join online forums where your customers and potential customers spend time asking questions and having discussions.

Blogs. Blogs are good for gathering data because they’re updated more often than regular websites. Try to find blogs about your industry or by potential customers and read what they have to say.

Social Media. Connect with your target market on social media and monitor their conversations. This is a great tool because you can also communicate directly with potential customers through these channels.

Keywords Tools. Use a keyword tool to see how many people are searching for products such as yours. Choose keywords that are relevant to your products. In other words, if you were going to search for this product, what would you type into the search bar? The volume of searches gives you an idea of how popular products such as yours are.

The Competition. A great sources of data is your competitors. Find competitors who offer something similar to what you offer. If possible, look at sales data to see how your target market shops. Stay abreast with your competitors’ websites, blogs, newsletters, and so on.

Business Trends. Read industry journals and websites to find out the latest trends related to your business.

Direct market research methods include:

Interviews. Conduct interviews with people during which you ask them directly for the specific information you need to create your profile.

Questionnaires. Questionnaires can be done online or offline. Create short questionnaires that ask very specific questions to help you gather the information you need.

Focus Groups. The most labor-intensive, but often most lucrative, market research method is the traditional focus group. This is where you gather a group of people to discuss their opinions, perspectives, and beliefs on a certain product or an aspect of a product.

Both direct and indirect market research have their merits. With direct research you get straight answers to your specific questions. But sometimes when asked directly, people say what they think you want to hear instead of what they actually feel. With indirect research, you’re listening in and the data may be more truthful.

It’s good to do a bit of both. The more samples you gather data from, the clearer and more accurate a picture you’ll have of your target market.

Branding 101: An Introduction for New Marketers

Branding 101: An Introduction for New Marketers

A brand is a perceived image that provokes an emotional response. It’s hard to define because it’s intangible. The brand is the image attached to a name, design, symbol, or some other feature of a company’s product.

Here’s a better definition offered by Seth Godin:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter, or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection, or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”

What’s important to understand about a brand is that it has nothing to do with the actual product. It exists in the minds of customers only. As mentioned in the definition, a brand is a perceived image.

A brand is a perceived image that provokes an emotional response. It’s hard to define because it’s intangible. The brand is the image attached to a name, design, symbol, or some other feature of a company’s product.

Your logo is just one design that communicates your brand.

Brands are often confused with logos and identities. A brand identity consists of the image or design motifs. The logo is just one design that communicates the brand. Both are involved in communicating the brand’s message, but a brand is much bigger and more encompassing than that. It also includes the images or feelings that the design or logo invokes.

In his definition, Godin mentions ‘value.’ The importance of a brand is that it offers a unique perceived value that a customer doesn’t get from your competitors. In other words, the brand is the reason your customers choose you. A good brand tells customer that this is not only the best choice for them, but the only choice that offers the unique solution they’re looking for.

From the point of view of your business, your brand is the promise you make to your customers. It precedes and underlies all of your marketing and, if done well, every contact the customer has with your company.

Because of all of this, branding is one of the most important considerations for businesses. It all too often gets forgotten among the many other things that go into launching a business. But brands are powerful. They outlive the products they sell. It takes a great deal of thought and consideration to create a winning brand.

Elements of an Effective Brand

Brands come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few common elements you’ll find in all of them.

Clarity. A good brand communicates the intended message clearly. Communication is very important. It’s also important that you communicate the intended image you want customers to perceive, rather than giving them the wrong message.

Memorability. In order for a brand to work effectively, it needs to be memorable. It needs to stay in the customer’s mind.

Uniqueness. Your brand tells people what makes your offering unique among your competitors and the most ideally suited for them. As I said above, it’s not that you’re the best but that you’re the only option that fully and adequately meets the customer’s needs. This aspect of uniqueness also means you don’t have to appeal to everyone.

Emotional Connection. All good brands make an emotional connection with their target audience. People identify themselves through the brands they like. It’s just as much a part of a person’s identity as their political or religious affiliation. If your brand gets inside your customers’ heads and elicits an emotional response, they’ll identify with it and remain loyal. This is what motivates the buyer to buy.

Credibility. A good brand is consistent. It never strays from the customer’s expectation. Like an old friend, it’s always there giving them the same message. In this way, your brand establishes your company’s credibility in the customer’s mind.

Timeless. The best brands are timeless. They endure and stay relevant for years or even decades to come.

Undeniable Tricks To Help You Manage and Benefit from Negative Reviews

Undeniable Tricks To Help You Manage and Benefit from Negative Reviews

Undeniable Tricks To Help You Manage and Benefit from Negative Reviews

You’ve taken the (necessary) leap to jump feet first into the ocean of digital platforms, competitors, and customers. It is, after all, sink or swim when it comes to owning a business — but are the waters full of sharks? Yes. But it’s full of sharks for all businesses — not just yours.

owning a business is like swimming with sharks

You’re talking online. Your digital footprint proves that! Your competitors are talking, your customers, and your employees are all throwing in their two cents online.

Do you know how you know?

Simple: reviews. Yup, both positive AND negative. The first trick to managing them isn’t a trick at all, it’s a proven practice — respond, to both positive and negative. This way you’ll be able to better control the conversation — otherwise, especially with negative reviews, the public that is hiding behind a keyboard has the conversational upper hand.

No business owner should want that or let that happen.

So what’s the deal with negative reviews? What are the best practices? Who knows — there’s no definitive rule book. You know what there is, though? Data to back up the following tips and tricks to manage and even benefit from negative reviews.

negative reviews aren't a dark cloud

Believe it or not, the same premise applies to negative review response as it does to positive reviews. How you respond to a negative review impacts not only the reviewer, but all the sets of eyes (and attitudes and customer actions) that come afterward.

Seeing a business handle a particularly challenging review online suggests that the business as a whole is proud of their business, their products, and their services. It also proves, undeniably, that you’re willing to go the extra mile to maintain not only your reputation, but that your brand truly cares about its customers.

4 Proven Steps To Manage Negative Reviews Like a Pro

Make potential clients see the light with these four steps:

  • Apologize
  • Promote
  • Get offline
  • Keep it simple

How to respond to negative reviews using the above 4 business-saving tactics

Apologize and sympathize: 
The first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging that one occurred. Regardless of what happened, a simple apology and sympathy for your customer’s experience goes a long way.

: So the famous crab cakes weren’t up to par the day this particular customer visited. If they’re what you are known for, why not reiterate that? “Our crab cakes are usually a hit, we’re sorry to hear that they weren’t up to par when you visited!”

Move the conversation offline: 
Don’t open a can of worms. Keep the lid on tight by offering the reviewer the chance to reach out via phone, email or both.

Keep it simple: 
Avoid specifics and don’t ask questions. Those conversations are much better served in a space away from the prying public.

One last pro tip/trick: Leave your business name, location and category out of this. You don’t want your negative reviews showing up in search!

happy business owner

You Reclaimed the Conversation, Now Benefit From It

Being the stellar marketer/business owner that you are, you followed the above 4 steps. And now that you’ve responded and stoped crying yourself to sleep every night because of a negative review/mention, it’s time to use the situation to your advantage.

Awesome, but how?

It’s tempting to creep over to the dark side, but now that the process for turning things around is gaining some momentum, it’s time to do the following:

Understand that negative reviews aren’t the revenue destroyer that you think they are. In fact, less than half of polled consumers say they’d stay away from a business because of a negative review.
Additionally, consumers actually don’t mind a full spectrum of review sentiments. Consumers who have the opportunity to read the good, the bad, and the ugly feel better informed during their decision-making processes.

3 Marketing Wins from What Seemed Like a Marketing Fail

Let’s let Harry Truman chime in (who knew Harry Truman had the insight of a modern digital marketer!?):

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

So, whether you’re a glass is half empty person or a glass is half full person — the perceived set back of a negative review needs to be redefined in your mind:

The facts about what negative reviews can positively do for your business:

  • They alert you to problems you weren’t aware of, so you can fix/improve them.
  • They give you an opportunity to improve brand sentiment by how and when you respond.
  • They can provide a search engine optimization (SEO) bump, since they add legitimacy (and trust and credibility) to your business.

When you have a negative review, it’s better to do what we’ve outlined above — but know that every failure is an opportunity — do you think Thomas Edison didn’t fail thousands of times? Amazon? Apple?

Just like we use data, as marketers, to improve our marketing campaigns, that’s all a negative review is: data for you to either use to your advantage or it’s wasted data that can hurt in the long run if you don’t wield it like a sword to cut through the noise and (instead) send the right signals — to your customers, your potential customers, and the search engines.

And don’t ignore positive reviews. They need love (responses) too! Have you seen our Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Responding to Positive Reviews?

Naming Your Digital Marketing Agency

Naming Your Digital Marketing Agency

What’s in a name? Few things are more important that what you call your digital marketing agency. Your agency’s name will set the tone for your objectives and company culture, as well as prospects expectations. Here at DMTG, we like to guide you to success, and the first step of that success is picking out your agency name. Here’s 3 tips we have for selecting your new agencies name!

Brainstorm! I feel like this is an obvious one but grab a pad, sit down and list out nouns and adjectives you like, what you think of when you think of your agency (I always think of cats for mine), animate and inanimate objects, animals, locations, anything that comes to mind really. You can use your name, your initials, or even numbers, just be aware of the picture you are building for potential clients.

  • Don’t pick a name similar to another company existing in your space. You don’t want brand confusion and you want to stand out. Differentiate yourself from the crowd.
  • Think about the impact you want the name you pick to have. “Jessup, Jones, Jared Marketing” doesn’t pack as much punch as “Shamu Street” does. The name soup sounds a bit stuffy, more fit for a law office rather than a marketing agency.
  • Be creative!You’re a marketing agency and people want creativity in their marketing. Get crazy!
    Length: You need to remember that you’re going to put this name on business cards, a website and eventually ads. Don’t pick a name so long that even you can’t remember it.

Is it Available? Now that you’ve picked out that name “Strange Mountains Marketing” you’ve got to check and see if it’s available for you to begin to build your online presence. A site like allows you to look and see if the domain is available that you wish to acquire. You’ll then want to take a peak on the social platforms and see if those handles are available

  • It’s not the end of the world if you can’t get the exact handle on social media. You can reach out to the current user of the name and see if they are willing to sell and release the name. You can create another name and try again, or you can get creative with your spelling.

Still having trouble? You can always use a name generator like AdAge’s. Or peruse Adweek’s list of the 40 Strangest Agency Names to see if anything resonates with you and jumpstarts the brain. Leave us a comment with the strangest agency name you’ve found!

Growing Brand Awareness Via Better Networking

Growing Brand Awareness Via Better Networking

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could become an authority in your niche overnight and ‘leapfrog’ the competition? If you could skip the normal need to gradually climb the ranks and instead go straight to the top as a thought leader?

Well, as it happens there is at least one way you can do this – and that’s to network properly with other thought leaders in your niche.

The Theory
If you can network with other thought leaders in your niche and if you can align yourself with them/work with them, then you will be able to create more opportunities to associate yourself with them in the eyes of your fans.
What this then means is that right away, you will gain some of the trust and authority they have simply through your connection to them.

For instance, if you could get a top digital marketer to say that your e-book on making money was great, then you would not only get the exposure from them but also the seal of approval that would come with that.
The same goes for having a guest post published on a top blog – again you will benefit because people trust them and will thus be more likely to trust you by extension.

How to Work With Top Bloggers
So that’s great in theory but how do you actually get to the point where those big bloggers are going to be happy to promote you?

There are many popular methods for working with other bloggers in content marketing and these provide a ‘framework’ of sorts that you can use to structure your own interactions. The guest post is one example – it’s generally accepted that many blogs will accept contributors and provide them with a link back if the content is good.

Another option is to do an ‘ad swap’. Here you will promote another blogger to your mailing list in exchange for them doing the same for you. That way you both benefit by gaining exposure to the audience the other has built a relationship with.

LinkedIn and networking events provide good opportunities to meet these bloggers and to discuss working with them. An important tip whatever your strategy though is to avoid the temptation to go straight for the biggest bloggers in your niche first. A smarter strategy is to start nearer the bottom and to work your way up as you gain exposure for your own brand.

Help Your Customers Get to Know Your Personal Brand

Help Your Customers Get to Know Your Personal Brand

If you are trying to build a personal brand in order to build trust and authority in your niche, then one vital strategy is to try and get to a point where your visitors feel as though they know you. This way, they will be far more likely to trust your future posts and far more likely to want to listen to you when you suggest buying a product.

Think about it: who would you be more likely to listen to in regards to buying a product – a friend or an advert? The answer is the friend and that’s because we feel as though we know them and thus can trust their judgment. If you can be seen in the same way, then your suggestions will carry much more clout and you will seem much more persuasive.

So how do you go about establishing this sense of trust and of knowing? Here are a few options.

Write in the First Person

The first tip is to occasionally write in the first person. You may have learned in school that writing in third person was preferable for business as it sounds more professional and authoritative but if you want your readers to feel as though they know you and as though you are personally recommending something, then writing in first person makes a lot more sense. Use ‘I’s and ‘Me’s and generally write as though you’re talking to that person.

Be Honest

And don’t just write in the first person, make sure you’re being honest too. If you have concerns about a product then say it. Not only does this fill in your personality but it also shows that you’re willing to ‘tell it how it is’. The same goes for talking about issues in your personal life which has the added bonus of making you more relatable.

Include Images

Including images of yourself is a great way to help people feel as though they’re getting to know you. If you’re writing about the benefits of a certain exercise, then why not include an image of you performing that exercise? This is also a good way to get graphics for your site without paying for stock images.

Go on Camera

Better yet is to put yourself on the camera. If you are confident enough, then going on YouTube is a great way to reach a larger audience in a way that will leave a more lasting impression.

digital marketing training group

We are the Digital Marketing Training Group. With over 75 years of combined digital marketing experience, we have been providing a recipe for success to people who want to run their own businesses in a multi-billion dollar industry that is growing year after year.

What Aspects Make a Brand, Well, a BRAND?

What Aspects Make a Brand, Well, a BRAND?

We can get an idea of what a brand is by looking at the multiple different aspects that combine to create said brand(s).

In this case, we’re mainly focusing on how to create a brand online, so we’ll look predominantly at some of the aspects that make a brand on the web in particular.

Aspects of a brand then include:

• Your logo

• Your color scheme (which will likely be dictated by your logo)

• Your website and web design (again, dictated by your logo most likely, as well as your industry/niche)

• Your advertising (which will feature your logo)

• A jingle (potentially, though not necessarily)

• A ‘tagline’ (optional)

• A mascot (definitely optional)

• Your products (which should have a consistent design language that makes them look similar)

• Your services (which should have a predictability that makes them reliable and consistent)

• Your content (if you are using content marketing)

• Your social media accounts

• Your ‘mission statement’ (the end goal of your business)

• Your values

• Your pervasive style

• Your attitude

As you can see then, a brand is actually many things and certainly not just a matter of creating a fancy logo. Your mission statement and values are particularly important to consider and will inform everything else you do. Ultimately, it will be your values that result in products that are a certain standard and this is what will make your customers want to deal with your business again.

digital marketing training group

We are the Digital Marketing Training Group. With over 75 years of combined digital marketing experience, we have been providing a recipe for success to people who want to run their own businesses in a multi-billion dollar industry that is growing year after year.


Image attribution: Nick Youngson