How to Create Effective Environmental Branding

What to Know About Environmental Brand Assets

So the hard work is done: your business has an established brand, or has recently rebranded. You know your colours and fonts off by heart, and your essence and tone of voice are outlined in a carefully developed brand guide – a marketing resource that visualizes and articulates the culture of your organization. And now you’re asking, “What’s next?”

A brand strategy looks at the different brand assets that are essential to developing strong brand recall and improving customer satisfaction – and these assets have been shown to increase employee productivity. One of the most important of these, which every business should think about, is environmental branding. 

 

What is Environmental Branding?

Environmental branding is the act of physically implementing brand elements into your workspaces, stores, or shops. Think of this asset as interior design mixed with the power of marketing, creating a “super-asset” – one that can be very powerful if it resonates with people on a deeply emotional and fundamental level. However, in order for it to resonate with people, your brand must be believable at all touchpoints, including your place of business; using elements from your mission statement, colours from your brand palette, and shapes from your logo are all great places start.

If you want to take your environmental branding to the next level, adding in elements of your sustainable marketing initiatives will help drive the most important message of all: your purpose. For example, if your purpose is to be an eco-friendly business, purchase repurposed furniture from Etsy or secondhand stores. Think about the ways you can use your physical space to drive your business’s purpose and explore various opportunities to infuse environmental branding into your business model.

 

Creating a Full Brand Experience for Clients and Customers

Think of environmental branding as interior design marketing, where space is used to tell your brand’s story and make a genuine emotional connection. This means looking at everything – from walls and windows to floors and furniture. Think of your space and the tone you want to set, too: for a tech company, this is likely a cool and sleek experience with areas of fun trickled through the office; for a brewery, you might aim for a cozy and welcoming “home” feel.

 

Ideas to Brand Your Office Space
  • Use a neon sign that writes out a main company value.
  • Choose furniture that has a similar shape to your logo and uses your brand colours.
  • Create a space that emanates a feeling. Want your employees to have fun at work? Add a pinball machine. Eager to encourage outdoor lunches? Add a picnic table to your outdoor space. Environmental marketing is your business’s vibe, manifested into reality and lived out fully.

 

Ideas to Brand Your Shop Space
  • To make your customers feel like family, take pictures of your employees and hang them on the well in eclectic frames.
  • To emphasize your sustainable marketing and your belief in creating inclusive spaces for all people, integrate that messaging and visual language into your bathroom signage.
  • Hoping for a warm space that invites customers through the door? Think sofas, throw pillows, curtains in your brand’s colors, and warm and welcoming low lighting.

 

Environmental Branding at the Office and Home

As you change your office space to be more dynamic and provide a place for your team to get a breather from the work-from-home life, remember that there are other ways to cleverly implement environmental branding. Start thinking of digital opportunities, like offering your team branded Zoom or Microsoft Teams backgrounds for online meetings. Think of ways to create physical opportunities in your space that lead customers and team members to post pictures on their own personal social media. It could be as simple as a feature wall at the front entrance, with a sign highlighting a branded hashtag and your organizational handles.

Environmental branding is an essential brand asset for every business, and when seamlessly integrated into your space, it tells a more complete story of who you are and what you believe in. There are even organizations like WJ’s client and friend, Identity Ink, that can help you bring your vision purpose to life.

For help with your brand visuals and how to make the most of your space, reach out today and get a whole team of experts that can move your brand forward!

Rebrand Wins & Fails: The Right Way to Evolve a Brand

Change is a constant in life – and of course, the same logic applies to the business world. In order to reach new demographics, expand your product and service line, and keep your authentic values and culture front and centre, periodic updates to your branding is not only acceptable, but encouraged – and even necessary. Rebranding allows you to carefully consider the core of your business, why it exists, and align that idea with your internal and external messaging materials. A better term would be a brand evolution, because that’s really what it is.

 

Is Rebranding Right For My Company?

Rebranding may seem like a simple and surface-level change – a new logo, some new stationery, and a name change if you’ve got a bad reputation to shake or new offerings to promote. But the process is more profound than that. It should be exhaustively planned, considered, and strategized. In many cases, it’s building an entirely new experience for you customers that more closely aligns with your core values.

The reasons for rebranding vary, and each will require adjustments in your approach. Whether it’s due to a merger or acquisition, a change in culture or leadership, or simply updating your materials for a new market, it always pays to do your research (literally) and find out if it’s right for you – and if so, the level to which it should be done.

 

How to Successfully Rebrand Your Business

So what are the components of a successful rebrand? Is there a “cheat sheet” you can use to guide your way? Not quite, but this list will be helpful when you’re thinking about undergoing the process, and how in-depth you should aim to be.

Consider the why. What drives your business? How do you add value to your target customers? What are your vision (“what”), mission (“how”), and values?

Know your audience and market. Do your research again. Look at who’s actually purchasing your products/services and who they’re also purchasing from instead of you. If at all possible, DO NOT rename. You can lose all brand recognition and organic search traffic at once. If you must rename, make sure the new name aligns with your brand vision, mission, and values to support long-term growth.

Reconsider your brand slogan – a good slogan is catchy and captures the company mission and vision. Just like a name, a slogan can carry a lot of your brand recognition (think McDonald’s, Subway, Taco Bell, etc.). Turn to a focus group to see if your slogan is resonating.

Rebuild brand identity – the tangible elements that are used to communicate your brand. Consider all strengths and weaknesses before replacing them.

  • Logo – maybe clients don’t “get” your logo or it needs a refresh to reflect major internal changes.
  • Colour Palette – can have a huge impact on brand (see colour in marketing blog) and some colours are synonymous with the brands that use them (McDonald’s yellow).
  • Typography – when re-evaluating fonts, pay attention to what worked and what didn’t with the old font and any difficulties you’ve had (web design and PPTs)
  • Shapes/Imagery – if changing other visual elements of the brand, consider revisiting the brand imagery and shapes to maintain a cohesive image.
  • Brand Guidelines – having and using brand guidelines will help you keep your brand consistent. Use your guidelines for web redesigns, creating campaigns or other marketing materials.

Launching your new brand – promote and strengthen your new brand, decide on a launch strategy, communicate the brand’s reputation and expertise, and create relevant marketing materials.

 

What Can We Learn From Rebranding Mistakes?

With so much on the line, rebranding is not always easy – and even big companies with plenty of spending power can make missteps. One famous example is Pepsi in 2008 (though it should be noted that they have had a dozen major rebrands, and many of them work just fine).

Pepsi is a company that is not afraid to pursue new logos and messaging, especially when compared with their relatively steadfast major competitor, Coca-Cola. In 2008 they unveiled a new logo they had spent roughly $1 million on developing – except it was more or less the same as their previous logo, with a lot of seemingly disingenuous justification attached. While they stuck with it and eventually the fervor dissipated, over the next decade the company also made other major errors in judgment, like capitalizing on civil unrest and even caricaturizing suicide in one European ad. The lesson? Stay authentic to who you are, and stay in tune with what your customers want.

A similar instance happened the next year with Tropicana orange juice. Their plan looked perfect on paper – creating simpler packaging to go along with an updated logo and a fresh new colour scheme, and a marketing campaign to keep people informed. However, they failed to consult with their customers about what they thought, and what they wanted in a product, leading to a confused consumer base that didn’t even recognize the brand after the launch. Additional feelings of inauthenticity plagued the new brand, and sales plummeted more than 20% before Tropicana reverted back to their original look. (Fun fact: they used the same company, Arnell, who did the Pepsi logo mentioned above!)

 

Examples of Rebranding Done Right

Stories like this are outliers in the history of rebranding, though – for every failure, there are many successes. It’s a necessity, after all. Companies undergo this process constantly, updating their brands to stay genuine and relevant in a quickly-moving world.

One of the best examples in history is Apple’s rebrand and massive success in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. A decade of initial market saturation since its founding had long since worn off, and by 1996 the company was nearly bankrupt, no longer considered the “disruptor” of its industry. Steve Jobs took over as CEO in 1997, introducing an updated vision, new marketing campaigns, and flurry of innovations like the iMac, iPhone, and iPod. These products formed a whole experience that was bigger than its parts, a lifestyle that was stylish and cutting-edge. This was unlike anything else on the market, and it turned Apple from a near-failure into the world’s first trillion-dollar (and America’s first two-trillion-dollar) company.

 

rebrand done right - apple commercial evolution

 

A great rebrand for the internet age arrived from Old Spice in 2010. Once considered uptight and dated – a brand best suited to be forgotten in the back of closets – that all changed with the huge success of the company’s short video commercials during the Super Bowl, starring former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa on a horse. This easily-shareable format racked up millions of views, followers, and sales, bringing the company into 21st century with the full attention of a new, younger demographic. Refreshed, updated, and revitalized, Old Spice still is still enjoying its reputation as a relatable brand that is not afraid to have a little fun, with plenty of recent videos using the same irreverent format.

 

rebrand old spice commercial

 

 

Assuming that you’ve decided that a rebrand is exactly what your company needs, make sure to do it right — that’s what your customers deserve. Honour the loyalty of your existing ones by staying true to the elements of your brand that earned their trust in the first place. Attract new customers with a refreshed look and feel that’s built to stand the test of time. This can only be achieved by doing extensive research, carefully reviewing the data and listening to exactly what your target audience has to say (good and bad). Then, and only then, is your company ready to rebrand itself – and reach a whole new audience that is out there, waiting.

Colouring Perceptions: How Colour Theory Works in Marketing

You may not always be aware of it, but colours and their effects are built in to how we interpret the world. After all, we see red when we’re angry, feel blue when we’re sad, get green with envy, encounter gray areas…and the list goes on. Subconscious colour associations can impact your perception and influence your behaviour.

There is a whole discipline of colour psychology devoted to how colours affect our moods and emotions, and it’s something that savvy marketers (hey, that’s us!) have known about for decades and use in our strategy and creative work to build brands that connect on an emotional level with their target audiences. Today we’ll go over some of the theories about using colour in logos and imagery and show you just how important it is to consider when building an effective brand.

The Colour of Culture

How people interpret certain colours doesn’t just depend on the colour itself. It’s also affected by factors like culture, age, religion, or gender – and all of these are important to consider when you’re building brands and determining the right hues and shades.

Here’s an example of how culture can change colouring perceptions. It’s common in North America for new parents to paint their nurseries pink or blue, based on a longstanding tradition that those colours represented femininity and masculinity, respectively. But not many people know that before World War II, those roles were much less defined – pink was often seen as a strong “male” colour, while the softness of blue was also suited to young girls. (The main force behind the modern change? Strong marketing by clothing companies!)

Personal beliefs can also impact interpretations. In Islamic tradition, black is forbidden as a colour of mourning, whereas its common practice in Christianity. Patriotic Canadians may love the red and white combination inspired by our flag, while other Canadians may be indifferent. Knowing how your logo and branding could be perceived by new groups, cultures, and audiences should play a part in choosing a colour scheme, especially if you’re planning on expansion into new areas.

One thing does seem to hold true everywhere, though: the primary colours of red, yellow, and blue are the most important to consider, and form the basis of all the rest.

colouring perceptions standard colour wheel

Primary colours and their combinations (from Blendspace by TES)

Primary Colours & Perception

These three primary colours can be combined to make the huge variety of hues and gradients that we can see, often reminding us – on some instinctive, primal level – of the natural world.

Let’s start with blue – the colour of clear skies and deep water, both of which are big features of the human experience. This overarching presence gives a sense of calmness, trust, and security, like you would feel while relaxing on a beautiful, cloudless summer day. So it makes sense that many companies draw on blue for those same feelings – look at Facebook, Dropbox, or Bitwarden. They need to subconsciously assure you that your data and information is safe, and this is how they do it. It’s a fine line, though – in some cultures, blue also means depression or loneliness, so knowing your target audience and choosing the right shade and amount to use is key.

Moving over to red, it’s a colour that’s impossible to miss – our brains are literally adapted to notice this colour above many others. It’s the colour of blood, fire, many ripe fruits, a setting or rising sun, and changing leaves on trees – all things that would be important to see throughout human history. And when we’re angry, embarrassed, or in love, our cheeks go red. So what does this tell us? Red is a raw and passionate colour, full of emotion and urgency, and can be used for both positive and negative feelings. Its presence makes us want to take immediate action. When combined with basic human instincts like hunger or fear, this is a powerful cue – which is why so many fast food restaurants (and horror movies) use red in their logos.

Lastly, there is yellow: the colour of warm sunshine, bright flowers, firelight, and juicy citrus fruits that your body needs. In the right amounts, yellow brings feelings of warmth, happiness, comfort, and health, so its use as an accent colour in many company logos makes sense. However, too much at once can feel overwhelming, frustrating, or even sickly – especially if it is a dull shade that reminds your audience of sallow skin or illness.

 

Going Beyond the Basics

Mixing the primary colours gives a whole palette of new choices from which your organization’s look can be taken; green, orange, violet, pink, brown, gray…and literally thousands upon thousands more. Historically, these have been used to represent certain feelings, too.

Want to give the impression of freshness and natural qualities, like Starbucks or Whole Foods? Choose a good green to remind your audience of a rich springtime meadow or forest. How about a sense of mystery, luxury, imagination, or confidence? Follow in the footsteps of Wonka candies or Yahoo and select from an array of purples, which have often been used to represent royalty and status in ages past. And if you want approachability and friendliness, you can’t go wrong with a splash of orange, like Firefox and Amazon. Even technology companies using simple black and white – think of Apple and Sony – create the feeling of efficiency, futuristic achievements, and top performance.

colouring perceptions

Colour theory in action for many logos (from Impact BND)

A Spectrum of Possibilities

The ideas behind these colours (as well as all the others) go far beyond what we can discuss in a single blog. When it’s time to show your brand’s personality to the world, don’t be afraid to talk to an expert designer who can help pinpoint the exact colour combo that works for you. Experienced designers know how to connect your brand to your audience through all sorts of visuals, and colour is no exception to this. We take great care in ensuring that the colours chosen in your brand represent the emotion that you want to convey and connect with your audience. When done as part of a larger marketing strategy, your choices showcase the differentiators that set you apart from the pack.

At WJ, we’ve got all of that under one roof – and we show off those capabilities every day with our own logo, materials, and branding. If you need a consultation and an exceptional eye for details, we’re always ready to chat!

Should I Hire a Marketing Manager or a Marketing Agency?

It’s an age-old question that inevitably pops up every time a business needs a sales boost, a brand refresh, or some snazzy new online content. Is it better to hire an in-house marketing person or team? Or an agency, with the know-how and resources to really get things done?

There’s no simple answer to this, as it depends on several factors that will change from one company to the next. But it definitely pays to consider your options and weigh the impact that your choice will have down the road. Luckily, we’ve done some research for you in advance (you’re very welcome), so here are some solid-gold facts about internal vs. external marketing, and how you can decide on the best method for your organization.

 

The Draw (and Drawbacks) of Internal Marketing Managers

It seems to be a no-brainer: to nail down your exact messaging, your brand’s tone of voice, and your photos for a share-friendly Instagram feed, you want someone who’s working right there beside you, inside the company. And it’s true – communication is a little easier when you can wander over to someone’s desk in the morning and catch up. There is a higher degree of instant accountability as well, as you can directly supervise the work being done on a daily basis. Plus, since they are only focused on your company, that work is generally done faster.

With that said, though, finding one individual who can do everything modern marketing requires is a bit of a gamble. Graphic design, copywriting, branding, website building, social campaigns, public relations, digital ads, search engine optimization, video and photo editing, strategy creation – it’s all involved, and each of those could be a full-time role in itself! And if you throw too much at one person, they will likely be just average at everything (at best), rather than good at anything.

You might be thinking, “What about hiring a team?” That is an obvious solution, but it’s an expensive one. You’ll be paying the salaries of several people, even when times are slow and “no marketing” is being done.

And in one of the grandest ironies of all, your dedicated team might find themselves stuck in a creative rut because they are right up close to your product or service all day, every day. This “creative exhaustion” can become costly and often leads to demoralization, too.

internal vs. external marketing

High Marks for Hiring Marketing Agencies

By now, you’re probably frantically searching “local marketing agencies” in order to sign up with the first result that shows up on Google. Hold up! There are a few things to know when looking for an agency that really suits you.

First, you may be tempted to think that the cost is too high – but as it turns out, the hourly breakdown is pretty much the same. You also get the added bonus of only paying for the time you need, rather than a full-time salary over the course of the year. So unless you’re doing a full brand overhaul, launching digital campaigns, and building a sparkling new website every January, you’re still saving in the long run.

The communication may be a bit slower, as phone calls, emails, and Zoom connections just can’t compare to deskside chats for speed. And there will be a bit of a learning curve as the agency picks up on your company’s processes, services, and internal slang terms, and goes through a comprehensive discovery period to ensure everything is aligned with your ultimate goals. But that’s hardly a bad thing, right? Most communication is in writing – always a plus – and long-term goals are plain from the beginning.

In return, you get access to a full team of people who can do everything in that list above, and probably some extras as well. You only pay for the work that is completed, which is usually of a higher quality too, since agencies are eager to prove they are worth your investment. You get less stress to worry about, fresh perspectives on your offerings, and a direct pipeline to people who keep up with the latest trends and most effective tactics in the world of marketing.

The Big Decision: Internal Marketing vs. Marketing Agencies

While we can’t say exactly what you should do, we can give you the tools to use in making your decision. You’ll need to consider:

  • Your Goals: what are your ultimate goals, and what are you trying to accomplish? If you’ve got your sights set on total market domination, a bigger team with a bigger toolbox is sure to be an asset.
  • Your Workload: Do you have enough work to justify a full-time team, or even a manager? Even when it’s slow and business drops off? If you’ve hired someone and now they’re just twiddling thumbs for 7 hours a day, it may be time to reconsider.
  • Your Budget: Can you afford to pay an internal marketing manager or team? Think about what kind of return you want on your investment – will an internal spend make it happen?

Average salary for a marketing manager in Canada is $50,000-$150,000 annually

Average cost for marketing agency in Canada is $50,000-$100,000 annually – but it can vary depending on what exactly you need for your business!

The final decision is up to you – but if you’d like a bit of extra advice, and some excellent examples of how an agency can help, we’re always here and ready to talk about your marketing needs!

Marketing Advice during the Pandemic

William Joseph Communications was founded in 2002, so we remember a decade ago when we saw the effects of a big downturn as it happened all around us. As a marketing agency, we are constantly watching trends change, and the lessons we picked up through some of the economy’s toughest times were valuable ones. That’s why we’re confident in saying that we can help lead businesses through times like this.

 

The first step is one of the most important: it’s all about communication. Prioritize this so that you can stay in touch with your employees, clients, customers, or anyone else that needs to be contacted. The flurry of emails sent out in the last few weeks about COVID-19 prevention are a great example of companies taking initiative on this. Even if the message is simple – like a closure announcement, or an update on your business’s plans for the next month – it goes a long way toward easing people’s minds.

This is true for your staff, too. Many workers are uncertain and feeling unsure about their futures, so it’s also important to communicate with them regularly, and stay connected. The shift to a remote workplace was very sudden and probably difficult for a lot of people – so as much as you can, keep your office culture and engagement going. This will boost morale and maintain those personal relationships that are an unseen benefit of working with others.

Even here at WJ, we’ve taken that to heart. We have weekly video-chat lunches to catch up, and email each other updates on our latest home-repair DIY success. Some of our new pet coworkers have gained honourary job titles and staff photos, and a few of our team play online games or use Netflix Party to wind down after a stressful day. If you’re able to, show your staff some much-needed appreciation, too – like the grocery stores that are now giving their front-line workers raises. Whatever works best for your group, embrace it!

Another aspect of that shift means that your traditional methods of marketing will probably have to change, too. Current events will make some of your best-laid plans irrelevant – but that’s okay, and expected. Pivot your focus to something else that works for you in this situation. Think of the breweries like Annex Ales that are making hand sanitizer, and getting plenty of free word-of-mouth in the process (an unintended side effect, but it works). Or, less drastically, you can redirect some of your marketing budget toward reduced costs of online ad placements, because of reduced competition for those spaces.

This kind of flexibility is set to become the “new normal” for a lot of places. So make sure that, whatever you decide, you communicate to your network about what your new processes are. If you have a dedicated customer base, they’ll definitely want to hear when or how they can support your business again. Consider running a campaign that just gets the word out, and as things return to normal over the next few weeks and months, that prominence will ensure you’re at the front of people’s minds.

One thing to remember, though, is to ensure your messaging is clear, authentic, and empathetic. You will be reaching a lot of people across a wide area, and being respectful of the difficulty a lot of them are currently facing is key to a good response. Take the time to craft a strong, personalized brand message, as opposed to copying and pasting the relevant parts of something else. It takes a bit longer, but that will place you as a genuinely customer-focused business that puts people over profits.

“It’s not the winning that teaches you how to be resilient. It’s the setback. It’s the loss.” Beth Brooke

And lastly – don’t be afraid to innovate, and take the chance on something new! In 2009, during the last big economic slowdown, Amazon released a new device called a Kindle that became the season’s huge success. And in the heart of the Great Depression, a lagging cereal company named Kellogg’s increased its marketing and product development, against all popular advise. This lead to the creation of mascots that are still around and beloved today, and an untouchable majority of the business in its market.

The lesson? Hard times don’t always have to be. Innovative, driven, perceptive thinkers ready to take a new approach can create opportunities where others see none. That’s why we always advise our clients to stay the course when it comes to marketing in a bumpy patch – because this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about having a plan for the long, long run, not just the next few weeks.

When you’re ready to set your plan in motion, we’ll be here to help. We’re experts at helping you find your business’s why, which lets you solidify what you do and who you do it for. And once you know that, the only limits are those you put on yourself.

 

Celebrating Green: How Our Clients Make A Difference

Spring is a season that many people welcome, for plenty of reasons. Whether it’s the warming weather, the extra hour of daylight we get in the evenings, or the budding greenery awakening from winter, it’s hard to deny the good vibes that accompany this time of year. And no mention of spring is complete without a nod to Earth Day – a celebration of our incredible planet and all the initiatives we are taking as a society to protect it. In the spirit of the day, we’d like to take the opportunity to talk about some of the clients we work with and the green initiatives they have in place to work towards a better future.

 

The Coverall Shop

We recently began working with The Coverall Shop, a protective garment & PPE company based out of Red Deer, AB, in order to help them create a new brand. One of their main differentiators is their commitment to green practices – even going so far as to own the largest bio-based drycleaner in North America and ensure that all of their procedures are developed with environmental impact mitigation in mind. Through this, they hope to inspire their entire industry to adopt more sustainable habits in the future.

 

Orano Canada

We are long-time collaborators with the international energy company Orano. Breaking away from a dependence on oil and gas products for energy generation, Orano mines and refines some of the highest-grade uranium on the planet in northern Saskatchewan. However, they do it very responsibly, and from the start of every project, they consider and mitigate any environmental damage: they monitor air, water, and soil quality, not only at their sites but in the areas around them; consult with local communities to ensure traditional land use activities, like hunting or fishing, can continue and quality of life is not lessened; replant trees and encourage grassland growth in decommissioned areas; return to those areas for years afterward to ensure a flourishing environment, free of contamination or pollution.

 

INGU Solutions, Inc.

In a similar industrial vein, we are also doing work with INGU Solutions, based out of Calgary. Focusing on oil and gas pipelines, Ingu has developed new, small-scale sensor technologies that can inspect and monitor pipelines while they are in operation, detecting leaks, weak points, sediment deposits, and other issues before a spill happens. This preventative, easily-repeatable maintenance can find and eliminate fugitive emissions, protect the environment from chemicals, and make it much more cost- and time-effective for petroleum companies to monitor their pipelines, ultimately creating safer transportation across the industry.

 

Goldray Glass

Finally, we want to mention Goldray Glass and their adoption of many green measures in their offices and manufacturing plant. For years, they have recycled excess glass, cardboard, paper, and toner cartridges, and all purchased paper and cartridges are from recycled sources; in addition, their office uses an electronic tracking system and a “green sample” system to reduce waste. They have also eliminated the use of lead pigments in all their coatings, and reduced usage of toxic chemicals in all of their process.Their environmental statement lays it out in greater detail, but we can say this for sure – we are proud to work with a company that constantly strives to reduce its environmental impact and improve its processes.

 

As sustainability and environmental responsibility gain more prominence in everyday culture, it’s important for every company to consider the impact that it has on the earth, and to periodically brainstorm new ways to reduce that impact, as new technologies and research are released. The ability to adapt to a changing world and a marketplace that demands accountable, transparent practices will dictate success in the years ahead – and being proactive is always a good idea. So take a look around and ask: what green actions can you take on a personal or professional level? With inspiration like this from the organizations above, it should be easy to find an answer!

In Ryan’s Words: What I Learned in 2019

It’s been an interesting year – one that seemed to leisurely stroll by while somehow, at the same time, flying past all of us. In my experience, it’s been a year of opposites: challenges and solutions; easy wins and hard losses; looking out further for opportunities, while closely examining what makes my company, William Joseph Communications, really work.

I think the theme of the year can be best summed up in one concept: change. We work in an industry where change defines everything, and it often moves at a speed that always threatens to leave us in the dust. It’s not always fun, and it’s usually not easy, but it’s going to happen anyway, so all we can do is accept it and work with it. New technology, new techniques, and a lot of learned lessons all just reinforce the point – we have to evolve and adapt to our new reality.

In order to change for the better – to really make it meaningful and work towards a goal – I took a look back at what 2019 taught me about running my business and how to do it better. There’s plenty to choose from, but here’s what really stands out to me about how I’ll reorganize going into 2020, in my pursuit of always doing a bit better than before.

 

1) Invest your time wisely.

As a business owner, my time is valuable. If I am not in one of my offices, I am always at different events, meeting people, helping keep my business in people’s minds. But no matter how much you work, it won’t make a difference if you’re not putting that time towards your goals. All the best CEOs I know have mastered this, and for good reason. Know your goals, get the right people on your team to help you use your time well, and invest those hours to the places it will be of most benefit. When you can do your best work, so can everyone else. And this ties in with the next two.

 

2) Focus, but don’t overthink.

My best focus at WJ comes when I truly see where we’re going, what markets we’re chasing, the strategies we’re developing, how we’re investing and planning for our future. That focus lets me shape a way forward, not just for clients, but for ourselves as well. And having that plan is critical: as the marketing world moves towards a digital landscape, you can be ready to change along with it and harness all the power it gives you.

 

3) Play.

That one word holds so much potential – it’s short, but so important. You only have so much time in the day, and if you’re constantly working with no outlet, you’ll burn out. Guaranteed. Granted, when your job is your passion, it’s easy to lose track of time and spend a lot of late nights working – but you have to balance it with your hobbies, with home, with a bit of an escape. You’ll find, more often than not, that you come back on Monday morning with a new perspective and a fresh approach.

 

4) Surround yourself with people who can lead you somewhere.

Do you want to work with a company that only keeps up – or one that takes you somewhere new? If we played it safe and only involved ourselves with companies who had the same capabilities as us (or below), we would never be challenged, pushed beyond our barriers, or given opportunities to truly grow. We don’t want to be stuck in the corner. After all, I’m a full-throttle kind of guy, leading a full-throttle company. My favourite people are the ones who are way ahead and make us catch up to them.

 

5) Nobody knows everything.

Even a jack of all trades would have trouble filling all the roles at a modern agency like WJ. With internal specialists – writers, editors, designers, strategists – and other external partners like lawyers and accountants, there is no shame in admitting you can’t do it all. In fact, there’s quite a lot to gain by trusting a team of experts who can help navigate a constantly-shifting landscape of best practices, technology, and legal requirements. Find good people and let them help you get where you need to go.

 

6) Diversification is the key to success.

It doesn’t really matter what the area is in your business – but if you focus on only one to the exclusion of the others, bad things will happen. The sooner you can recognize this, the better off you’ll be, because multiple product lines or services will help you manage tough economic times. But remember, consumers can sense inauthenticity a mile away – you can’t just say, “Oh, by the way, we also do Y in addition to X”. That’s not credible. If you’re diversifying, you have to reposition yourself to fully and authentically serve new markets. Like I said in point #2, planning is important – do it smart, and do it right.

 

7) Stop watching the news.

Seriously, this sounds impossible, but give it a try. The news is just as much about ratings and entertainment as it is the facts, so apocalyptic negativity tends to rise up to the top – and when it’s all you hear, you may not even bother getting out of bed some mornings. But there’s always business to be found. You might have to be more creative and innovative on how to find it, but it’s there (we’ve grown through recessions, so I know it’s there). A good add-on here is to make sure you surround yourself with positive problem-solvers instead of problem-finders – you wouldn’t believe the difference it makes.

 

8) The only constant is change.

There are many ways to reach a destination – one way is not necessarily easier or harder, it’s just different. And with the world, and our industry, changing at such an incredible rate, there are more ways than ever before to move forward. It seems like the only option you shouldn’t take is “the way we have always done it”, because that doesn’t get you anywhere new. I’ve been at the helm of WJ for more than 17 years, and I can tell you – the rate of change has been insane. Things that are common now didn’t even exist a couple of years ago. All you can do is be open to it – be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

 

9) Be bold, or go home.

Anyone can follow in someone else’s footsteps and say they did the same thing as the person who came before. But it takes leadership, skill, and a lot of guts to be the first one to go somewhere new. In marketing, if you’re not bold and ready to make your mark, I can guarantee you that someone else will be. They’ll step in and take your opportunities before you’ve even booked a meeting. This idea drives a lot of WJ’s philosophies, and it’s really what sets us apart.

 

So, what lessons can I take from 2019, and share with you? Besides the importance of change and time management, I also found the importance of focus – being strategic with that time and how it’s applied. I have an appreciation for clarity, and I’m constantly trying to understand how to get both my company and my clients where we’re all trying to go.

But underneath it all, keep the core alive. Your culture, your personality, your idiosyncrasies, your why. All of it can survive the change of everything else, if you’ve done your due diligence in figuring it out. No business will be perfect in every area, but if you instead try to make it the best that it can be – well, that will take you to places you never thought possible.

 

Ryan Townend,
CEO of William Joseph Communications

Planning a Big Impact in 2020

At the end of the month, another decade of the 21st century will have come and gone. The last ten years have seen incredible changes in the business world, and entire industries have emerged to serve a shifting landscape that is always pursuing the latest trends. One thing that has always remained constant, though, is the need for an effective marketing strategy.

2019 was a tough year in western Canada, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty for the future. Established businesses are being more cautious out of concern that they’ll lose their place, and new businesses are even more hesitant to break out and spend money on perceived non-necessities – such as a solid marketing budget for 2020. But what we’ve seen time and time again is that the right strategy, applied well – even in lean times – is crucial to the success of a business, whether they’re starting up or seasoned veterans.

Our clients come to us from a variety of different industries and with a range of marketing experience. Some find us after having never had a plan before, whereas others come with a yearly plan that didn’t prove successful, and are wondering why. When companies reach year-end and realize that they haven’t hit their marketing goals, we usually find that the root cause is something fairly common – and often has more to do with application than with the economy.

What we mean by that is this: sometimes, the excitement of launching something new at the beginning of the year fades as time goes on, and consistency and quality drop over the intervening months, until there is only a trickle of the original plan left. Other times, hardly any attention is paid to the strategy at all until the last month or two of the year – not only is that too short to make up for lost time, but it’s generally a slow time of year, so the impact is felt twice as hard. And in other cases, budgets are slashed in response to fiscal reports, leaving a company with little choice as to how they can attract new customers.

But if experience has taught our agency anything, it’s that businesses who maintain their approach through the year, and understand the value of good marketing year-round, whether small or large, are the ones who can build that momentum up and take advantage of increased opportunities. So, to ensure your future marketing strategy works, whether it’s your first time or your fiftieth, we’ll help you identify first what a marketing plan is, what it isn’t, and highlight some basic considerations to help you structure your plan for achievable, measurable success in 2020.

 

What A Marketing Plan Is (and Isn’t)

Coming up with a strong plan for your business’s marketing takes more than jotting down some ideas at 4:30 on a Friday. A marketing plan is a comprehensive blueprint outlining not only your marketing efforts, research, and objectives, but also an audit of current strategies, baselines for how success will be measured, and any other relevant details that should be covered. It is not a one-time, 200-page document written to appease your CEO and sit in a ‘Marketing’ folder on your computer; it is based on research and astute planning – and is a roadmap for where you are now, where you want to go, and what it’s going to take to help get you there. Its size, scope, and overall direction will be determined by the budget you set aside, as well. It has a formal structure, but can easily be used informally, too.

If you’ve never done a marketing plan before, considering all of the above will help you focus your efforts and direct your money where it will be most effective, helping you to achieve your overarching goal, whether that be to increase awareness of your brand or grow your customer base. And if you’ve had experience creating a marketing plan, you can use what you have learned (from methods that didn’t work, which are still useful!) in order to create a more targeted and accurate plan for next time.

Keeping People Accountable

Coming up with the first marketing plan for your business can be daunting – you’re not sure who should be doing what, and where the responsibility for final success lies. But the plan itself will help with that, because part of the process is delegating tasks to the right people, allowing for quick identification of pain points.

When it comes to building your plan, collaboration is key, and different perspectives matter. If you haven’t had prior success with a marketing plan, accountability is a good place to start when trying to improve for the future. It’s important that everyone on the team pulls together to do their part and contribute to the strategy together – and the parts are all easier when everyone is pitching in to keep things moving ahead. As obstacles are dealt with, and milestones are met and celebrated together, the thought of achieving the next goal or objective becomes ever more tangible. Start by booking a planning meeting, and then a second. It will take more than one afternoon to flush out the essentials of your plan, especially with pieces of input from different people, but encouraging everyone to invest the time at the onset will help build a solid foundation for your plan at the beginning of the year – something which you can execute on each quarter.

 

Spending Wisely = Returns on Investment

If you’ve never had a plan in place (or one that worked), you might be skeptical of the ROI you will get from spending the time up-front to develop a marketing plan. You might hope to go viral – somehow – or rely on word-of-mouth for boosting your sales, and think that with the rise of instant social media access, paying to build and promote your brand is an unnecessary cost.

But a marketing budget can be transformed into many different metrics, depending on how you define success. It can become media coverage, increased event attendance, more calls and sales, reputation, or many other outcomes. It could be as simple as putting the right video, positioned and advertised at the right time to the right people through social media, which could boost your brand awareness and drive a substantial increase of credible leads to your website. Set your overarching goal and measurable objectives from the start, and focus on the results you want – it will ensure you’re getting the best return for the time, money, and effort you put in every day.

It’s tough to build a fully thought-out plan, let alone start a yearly plan, without even a template of where to begin. The great thing about marketing is that there are many ways to get to a destination – with different routes not necessarily easier or harder along the way. The biggest thing is to ask for help when you need to – every sound leader knows (or should know) that alone, you can only do so much. Most businesses, including yours, have a support system built on strong relationships. It can be hard to ask for help, but reaching out to see how others have innovated to overcome challenges can help you consider things you may have not otherwise thought of. No one marketing plan is the same – and you’d be surprised at who will be there for you and what you might learn just from sending out a single email.

Going Global in 2020

So, your big idea took time, but it’s paying off – and now your business has firmly established its place in the market. Soon, you’ll have grown so much that it will be tempting, and eventually necessary, to look further than local markets. But expanding out into new countries means more than setting up a storefront and hiring new staff. Depending on what you offer, the process can be more difficult than launching in the first place.

If you move into the global market correctly, you’ll have a foundation of success that lasts far into the future.

But with great risk and effort come great rewards. If you move into the global market correctly, you’ll have a foundation of success that lasts far into the future. Here are some factors to remember if you want your business to boom across the border.

 

Getting Ready For the World

Breaking out into a foreign market isn’t the time to make assumptions. Take an in-depth, honest look at your offerings, finances, and ability to carry this idea to fruition – and then decide if the time is right for international expansion.

If you’ve already done that, congratulations! Now you must decide what resources you can spare from your main domestic operations to get the process rolling. You don’t want to miss opportunities at home because you’ve spread yourself too thin, so move forward with the same consistent quality in mind.

Next comes the fine-print details: are you opening a branch, a sales office, or a brand-new company? What are your short- and long-term strategies? If you don’t have enough information to define your goals, business model, and deadlines, don’t panic – but settle in for some serious research.

 

Laying A Strong Foundation

Finding out more information about your ideal markets is a long, but necessary, process. It ensures that your new customers actually exist, and enables you to work toward known goals in the new location.

Spend time getting to know the region you’re expanding into. How does their culture and business practices differ from the ones you’re used to? What new needs and desires will they have that you can meet? Try to put yourself into their mindset and understand who they are and why they would turn to your business instead of another.

There are many logistics considerations to account for as well, and researching those is equally important. What languages must be added to the packaging, or used for deals? Does the packaging itself have different environmental or legal requirements? Are your distributors, suppliers, and raw materials close by? If you offer live customer service, can you maintain that for multiple time zones that may be offset by several hours?

Even the daily life of somewhere new can have unforeseen quirks. Voltages and plug shapes are different from one country to another; local tax regulations can wreak havoc on unprepared accountants; even the pace of business varies greatly and may feel uncomfortably slow. There are plenty of ways your business will have to adapt – but knowing this from the start will greatly increase your chances of overcoming any obstacles.

 

The Right People for the Job

The overarching theme of any global expansion is planning ahead

Who knows the culture and market better than the locals? Use this to your advantage by consulting with experts in the area, hiring someone who knows the demographics, and supporting them with a competent staff. From a client perspective, this will also help instill an inherent sense of trust in your brand, as your representatives will be knowledgeable, helpful, and familiar with the area. This is key in the initial launch phase, as it will reassure new customers of your reliability and value.

The overarching theme of any global expansion is planning ahead – and to do that, you need to understand industry trends and know exactly why your company fits in with them. At WJ, we are experts at finding the why of your business, and helping you create a master blueprint for your future plans – whether they wait down the street, or across the ocean.

How to Market Your Small Business

The category of “small business” is a huge range, depending on your industry but generally if you have 500 employees or less, you’re a part of the club.

When you’re not the biggest fish in the pond, you need to be very strategic with where your resources go, and this is especially true when it comes to your marketing.

Want to know how to market your small business?

Below, we’ve outlined five ways to successfully market your small business and get as many eyes on you as possible.

 

Focus on Your Community

If you’re a small business, don’t waste time trying to appeal to a national, or even international market. Your small size and local nature are incredible assets to lean into.

Who is your target customer? As a small business, it’s easy to get to know them, and find out where they spend their time and what they spend it doing. Learn all this and market accordingly.

 

Collaborate with Others

Look for other businesses in your area who aren’t competing with you and make arrangements to cross promote. Not only does this help build your professional network, it’s an easy way attract customers from audiences you might not have thought to look at before.

An example of this could be as simple as putting up a promotional sign for the bookstore down the road, while they have a similar sign for your coffee shop.

 

Invest in a Strategic Plan 

All businesses face the realities of budgets, and this is especially true for small businesses. Dollars can be tight, so determining where to best allocate your funds can be challenging. As is true with most things, proper planning is the key to ensuring the success of your marketing dollars.

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), suggests that B2B companies should spend 2 – 5% of their revenue on marketing, and B2C companies an even higher rate of 10 – 12%. For example, if your small business has a budget of $30,000, before blowing your budget on a variety of marketing initiatives that you feel would be best, we suggest investing 10 – 15% of that budget into a strategic plan.

Mapping out your marketing plan for the year will assist in ensuring that all of the marketing initiatives you invest in are the right ones for your business; this means, they are reaching the correct target audience and they are in line with your business goals and objectives. Just because a marketing tactic worked well for one business does not mean it will work effectively for yours!

 

Get in Touch with the Media

Do you have a new location opening or a new service or product being released? Get in touch with local media outlets. From the town newspaper to bloggers, reporters are hungry for stories.

Getting a story or two written and shared about your business can start a buzz, and it costs you absolutely nothing. It’s mutually beneficial to you and the media outlet you’ve reached out to, and you might attract new customers you might not have seen otherwise.

 

Ask for Referrals

Encouraging your customers to tell their friends about your business will do wonders. As effective as marketing can be, people will always trust the opinions of their friends over any advertisement.

A great thing about this method is that most people are open to giving referrals if they’re asked to. Even big corporations often ask for referrals, so you’ll never outgrow their effectiveness.

 

Offer Coupons

Coupons serve a couple of fantastic purposes for your small business. First, people will go out of their way, breaking their usual shopping habits to use a coupon. Second, used strategically, they can generate repeat business.

Giving a customer a coupon for a discount on a future purchase (bonus points if there’s a time limit to use it), will create a high likelihood the customer will come back.

For a look at examples of small business marketing done right, we’ve found three great companies that did fantastic jobs with getting the word out.

Ozone Coffee

The small coffee shop company, based in the UK, has identified their very specific audience and use it to their advantage. Customers of Ozone Coffee are passionate about social responsibility, so the web content the company develops is educational about consumer ethics. This might seem distracting from the fact that they sell coffee, but because they’re on the pulse of their audience, it powers their brand story

Metro Trains

The public transport company of Melbourne, Australia caught lightning in a bottle with their Dumb Ways to Die campaign. A simple game was developed where cute animated characters must complete silly challenges to avoid death, and it was accompanied by an oddly cute and macabre music video. At the very end of the experience, you find out you’ve been watching a public service announcement to stay safe around trains. This campaign stuck with so many people, it has taken a whole life of its own, going so far as even selling clothes and toys based on the game and video.

Dollar Shave Club

Based out of the U.S., Dollar Shave Club is a subscription company for affordable razor-blades and other shaving tools. When the company first started, they had almost no employees and a shoestring budget. Instead of holding their cards close to their chest, they invested a pretty penny in creating an absolutely phenomenal commercial that earned them over 20,000 Twitter followers, 76,000 Facebook fans and millions of YouTube views. And, most importantly, it earned them 12,000 new customers all in the span of just two days.

 

Getting Help

You now have a clear idea on how to market your small business.

Marketing is a personal journey – and you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re looking for a guiding hand in your marketing, William Joseph offers a cost-effective accelerator program to help jump-start your marketing campaign and get you off the ground in the right direction. Reach out today.

The Benefits of Annual Reports

In the name of transparency, every publicly-traded company must put out an Annual Report. It’s a way for them to divulge crucial information to shareholders and ensure a formalized source of communication is accessible to the public. Annual Reports are valuable tools investors utilize to make informed decisions about potential investments. For publicly-traded companies, they are not only a necessity, they are critical.

But what if your business is not public? Perhaps you’re a small business owner or run a non-profit organization. While you’re not legally required to do so, producing an Annual Report can prove to be an invaluable marketing tool. Here’s why:

Tell a Story

An Annual Report, at its heart, is a story – one that exists to communicate past years’ performance in an authentic but compelling, confident and inspiring manner. It should have a theme that ties many threads, including current market performance, industry context, the company’s financial performance, and its success accomplishing its strategic objectives, with a common story that frames the financials in a positive light that appeals to various target audiences. It must speak chiefly to investors, but also the industry, employees, and even competitors. The information selected, order of content, tone, and specific vocabulary choices are key considerations when crafting an Annual Report.

 

Connect Audiences with Leadership

An Annual Report provides your organization’s leadership the chance to speak directly to a variety of audiences. Not only does the included letter from the CEO allow them to address those with a vested interest in the organization, it also serves as a point of discussion and opens up dialogue about the company’s current state and future goals. Unless in the media, rarely does a CEO get the chance to connect with audiences who have a stake in their organization, and even then, it’s indirect. An Annual Report allows leadership to check in and develop a deeper connection with those who make the business possible.

Think Ahead

As mentioned, an Annual Report has the ability to tell a story. However, not only does it provide an accurate depiction of your organization’s most recent fiscal year, it also has the opportunity to set the tone for the future. By reconnecting invested audiences with your organization’s fundamental beliefs and values, an Annual Report becomes a source of information for what direction the company is going in and what it’s going to take to get it there.

While an Annual Report can be a resourceful communication tool for any organization, it is also very important to ensure the information is presented in a way that grabs the attention of whoever is reading, be it an investor or competitor. It is crucial to first identify the story you want your organization to tell in order to tell it effectively. To ensure marketing efforts are maximized, brand consistency should be maintained throughout and the design must be present information in a manner that is readily understandable by the reader and conscious of their attention span. To do that, it’s vital to create context for the data in a manner that is more visually interesting.

At William Joseph, our passion telling stories and connecting clients with their customers and stakeholders makes us ideal partners when it comes to developing your company’s Annual Report. We make an effort and take the time to build a solid relationship with your team, listening to your needs and partnering in every way we can. We also analyze your brand standards and relevant, current marketing initiatives to ensure we design to your standards and see the larger picture. Beyond the expertise and professionalism expected, we ensure that we are collaborative, respectful, are passionate, and most importantly, are easy to work with. We get to know your story, inside and out, so we can share it with your audiences. Our extensive experience in developing Annual Reports for a variety of businesses in ranging industries makes us confident we can create something special with you.

Are you ready to explore the possibilities an Annual report can bring to your business? Get in touch with us today.

The Power of Brand Communities

Brand Communities are a fascinating topic in marketing; they are uniquely located at the intersection of branding, consumer behaviour, and sociology. Communities, as a topic of social human experience, have been studied in philosophy and sociology for quite some time, and marketing has utilized these ideas and adapted them to understand the concept of community in a consumption context.

As first introduced by Muniz and O’Guinn in “Brand Community”, Journal of Consumer Research,  “A brand community is a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand”. This unique phenomenon has consumers participate in shared rituals and traditions, hold similar values, and together form collective consciousness all focused on the common admiration of a brand. Members of these communities have well-developed understandings and feeling towards the brands they are connected to. These communities are social in nature, and reflect how embedded our favourite brands are in our daily lives.

Important Aspects of Brand Communities

The shared consciousness or “we-ness” of these communities is a very important and powerful aspect of these communities. Members of these communities feel a deep connection, not only to the focal brand, but also to other members, who they feel they understand on a deeper-level even if they have never met in person. Harley-Davidson owner groups, both officially organized and not, are a great example of this. Although there are many different groups that experience Harley in there own unique way, there are common values that all groups share. One distinct value that is shared by this group is Personal Freedom. Most Harley owners identify with this idea of liberation through their bikes.  When talking about the freedom of riding, and the freedom to customize your bike to experience your own unique ride, our own Creative Director can verify, “you all belong to Harley, but you all do Harley differently”.

Interestingly, brand communities often define their identity by why they do NOT consume as well. For many Samsung Galaxy owners, they partly define their identity by NOT owning an iPhone. Or for many Mac users and fan groups, they partly define their identity by NOT owning a PC.

Rituals and traditions are also important aspects of these communities, as members often spread meaning through shared practices. Almost all brand communities have little examples of rituals that they share, which adds to the meaning of the brand. For example, many vehicle owners have heard of a specific wave to give the owner of the same brand. The “Jeep wave” and the “Audi wave” that owners give to each other on the road are just two examples of this. Little traditions like these add to the experience that one has when being involved with a brand, and adds to the experience that members have when interacting with each other.

For many years, marketers have harnessed the power of brand communities by organizing events like “brandfests” that gather admirers of a brand together. These events facilitate social relationships and traditions, all while focusing on a brand. Camp Jeep and Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) events are two great examples of companies mobilizing their own communities around their beloved brands. But, brand communities don’t need to be organized exclusively by the parent organizations. There are many examples of fan groups for brands that organize themselves and develop their own consciousness surrounding their favourite brands.  Remember Pokémon Go? Many of these loyal users still organize their own events to celebrate and play the game together.

With advances in communications technology and social media, brand communities now live and thrive online. People from all over the world organize themselves based on their admiration of a product, service, idea, or brand and create rituals, have shared values, and experience the brand together. A quick search on Reddit will reveal many different subreddits organized by brands, experiences, ideas, products, and services. Each of these communities has their own unique rituals, values, and understandings that are shared by members. These communities across the Internet can be huge sources of un-tapped value for organizations to directly access their fans and understand how they use and experience their favourite brands.

Benefits of Brand Communities

Brand communities have many sources of value for organizations. As highlighted by McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig in “Building Brand Community”, Journal of Marketing, this value can manifest in many ways for organizations:

  • Research and insights: members of brand communities will often give feedback on experiences, products etc. that can be a valuable source of information into what is working and what is not.
  • Learning and Teaching: members facilitate learning for other consumers; members get involved in teaching each other how-to use or the best ways to experience the brand.
  • Brand missionaries: members of these communities will communicate the brand message and their experiences to other social circles they are involved in and spread the message organically through word of mouth.
  • Forgiveness: when a product, service, or experience fails or does not live up to expectations, members of these communities are much quicker to forgive the brand and continue purchasing.
  • Loyalty: these consumers are less likely to switch to competing brands even on differences of quality, and become emotionally invested in the success of the brand.

In addition to all of these benefits, Brand Communities can also be a source of competitive advantage, and can protect organizations from the constant challenge of pushing the boundaries of innovation. It can be exhausting for organizations to constantly run towards a finish line that is continuously being moved farther and farther away. With that in mind, McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig (2002) identify an interesting opportunity for brands to create advantages by differentiating themselves from competitors. They further explain, “differentiating on the basis of ownership experience can be achieved through programs strategically designed to enhance customer-centered relationships”.

Building and cultivating customer-centered relationships through tactics like Brand Communities can be an extremely effective way to construct deeper emotional relationships between your customers and your brand. If your customers are fans of your brand, it can be extremely beneficial for you to develop a platform where consumers can share their experiences and connect with your brand on a deeper level. This can be a key point of value for your customers, and set you apart from competing brands.

Infusing your Brand Into your Work Space

When you walk into someone’s home, you quickly get a feel for the type of person they are.  Maybe they have a bohemian vibe about them, or a certain level of sophistication. Maybe you can sense that they’re really uptight, or maybe just the opposite – they’re a bit sloppy and neglectful.

The point is, physical environments tell us a lot about the person – or the company – that inhabits them, and anyone that pays a visit gets an immediate and lasting impression from it.

So what kind of impression does your place of business make? Does your work space align with your brand? It should, and here’s why:

Branded environments improve productivity, and subsequently, increase profits.

An article on www.brandquarterly.com states that branded office spaces increase productivity by up to 20%, and in 2014, Fortune magazine reported that disengaged employees cost businesses in North America a staggering $550 billion each year. So what’s the correlation?

Think of it this way: in order for your brand to be powerful, it has to resonate with people deeply and on various levels, and in order for it to resonate with people your brand has be believable at all touch points – including your work space. If your work environment is out of alignment with your brand, your brand loses credibility – not just with customers, but also with your employees. You want and need your people to feel invested in your brand, because when they do, they perform better, and there are no greater ambassadors for your brand than the people who work for you.

Branded environments improve customer satisfaction.

Your business’s physical environment has the same effect on customers and clients as it does on your employees. If what they see when they visit you doesn’t line up with the values and image your brand is meant to convey, you’re brand is going to lose credibility. If you walked into a cleaning company’s office space and saw that it was cluttered and filthy, would you hire them to clean your home? Probably not. When your company’s work space aligns with what your customers or clients expect, it creates a level of comfort and confidence that drives engagement and promotes good will.

Branded environments are an extension of your corporate identity.

You spent a lot of time, energy and money creating your company’s visual identity – creating the perfect logo, choosing corporate colours, etc. and incorporating that identity wherever customers or clients engage with you – on your website, in your advertising, on your business cards and letterhead. Shouldn’t your work space get the same attention? If you neglect to brand your work environment, you’re missing a major opportunity to reinforce your brand. And it doesn’t just apply to offices. Retail shops too need to align with their corporate identity to create brand equity, and the best brands make every effort to nail it. There’s big difference between Starbucks and the Tim Horton’s down the street, even though both stores basically sell the same thing, right?

How do you infuse your brand into your work space?

There are some basics that you need to cover when branding your work environment, and the place to start is making sure your corporate identity is infused in the space. Going back to the coffee shop example, it would be strange to walk into a Tim Horton’s and see pink walls and a bunch of blue couches, wouldn’t it? Point being, choose furniture and colours that match up with the corporate identity you worked hard to establish.

Beyond that, think about your corporate values and mission, and consider ways you can reflect that in your space as well.  Is your company passionate about kids? You’ll want to have bright primary colours and a rather playful space to work in. Are you about environmentalism? Eco materials, natural light and probably a good number of large live plants would be in order. At William Joseph, we have a great collection of artwork that helps give our space a lot of creative energy. And don’t be afraid to get your people involved. Ask them what they feel the space should include and incorporate what you can. Giant companies like Google and Dell have famously created some of the most incredible work places in the world, largely based on what employees have said they want and need in the space.

Have you seen our office spaces? Come on by for a visit and lets talk more about what work place branding is all about.

Sensory Marketing – Make Your Brand Irresistible Without Saying A Word

Pretend for a second that you’ve got a glass Coke bottle in your hand. You can imagine it there, can’t you? Its distinctive curvy shape and cold, smooth surface – you can perceive how it feels even though its not there. You can probably even imagine the sensation of putting the bottle to your mouth; the way the rounded rim feels as it rests on your bottom lip and the rush of bubbly sweetness you taste when the dark liquid inside washes over your tongue. It’s a pretty vivid image, isn’t it? Now consider this: is the image you conjure as vivid if you replace that Coke bottle with a bottle of say, Ginger Ale? Can you imagine that bottle so well in your hand? Probably not. That, dear friends, is the power of effective sensory marketing.

If good marketing is all about creating positive customer experiences (and it is) then sensory marketing techniques are a way to hotwire those experiences in customer’s minds. Scientific studies have shown that what we perceive through our senses influences our thinking, mood and decision making on a subconscious level, which means the right combination of sensory experiences can influence how customers think and feel about your brand, and greatly increase the likelihood that they will want to engage with it. When it comes to sensory marketing, subtlety is powerful. Consumers don’t perceive subtle sensory tactics as marketing messages, and therefore don’t react with the sort of skepticism or resistance that ads or promotions sometimes generate. Rule of thumb is, it’s better to tread lightly than be heavy handed when it comes to sensory marketing.

The glass Coke bottle is a great example of tactile sensory marketing (sense of touch), but what about the other four senses?

Smell: Our sense of smell is the sense most closely correlated to memory. The aroma of freshly baked bread may take you back to being a kid in your grandmother’s kitchen; the smell of a fairground may bring up memories of feeling shy and nervous on your first junior high school date. Marketers have cleverly employed aroma for decades to influence how customers feel in a place of business and encourage them to make purchases as well. Dunkin’ Donuts ran a hugely successful sensory campaign on South Korea’s transit system a few years back. The company jingle was played over bus sound systems while an atomizer simultaneously emitted the smell of fresh coffee in the air. Dunkin’ Donuts stores saw a 16% increase in visits during the campaign, and a 29% increase in sales.

Sound: Background noise can soothe, stimulate and aggravate us. It can make us feel happy and it can make us feel sad. What we hear in terms of sensory marketing very often is so subtle we hardly realize it’s there – but the effects of sound are undeniable. If high-end spas started playing punk rock music in their treatment rooms (rather than sounds of nature, for example) do you think customers would still walk away feeling relaxed and refreshed? Pay attention to what’s coming through the speakers the next time you’re in retail environment. Victoria’s Secret, for one, plays classical music in its stores to make the experience of lingerie shopping there feel classy and exclusive.

Sight: How a place of business looks is every bit as important as what it sells. Marketers spend millions creating environments that reflect the essence of a business’s brand, and consistency between stores is key. Walk into a McDonald’s restaurant and the look is always the same, regardless of whether you’re in Tampa or Tokyo. Colour impacts how we feel about a brand too. Although culture and personal experiences influence how colour is perceived, generally speaking, the spectrum of colour running from cool tones to hot tones correlates directly to feelings of calm to those of excitement.

Taste: Taste is the most specific of the five senses, and the most personal too. What appeals to one palate may be repulsive to another, and taste is highly influenced by other senses – smell, in particular. Very often the experience of eating or drinking something is highlighted by where we are when we consume it. So for sensory marketing, when it comes to taste, connecting feelings (such as fun or satisfaction) to the brand is important. Successful restauranteurs know that the ambiance in the room is every bit as important as what’s on the plate – and sometimes the charm of being a “hole in the wall” establishment with incredible food is part of a winning customer experience.

There are lots of ways your business can incorporate successful sensory marketing techniques, no matter what industry you’re in. Let our talented team help you discover and make the most of them.