Category: Branding

08
Jan

A Quick Guide to Being a Likable Brand

Not every customer that comes through the door will fall in love with your brand. Why? Because it is impossible to be everyone’s cup of tea, but as a business it is your job to do everything possible to make your brand relatable and likable to your demographic. So today we are going to give you a quick guide to achieving that goal.

Step #1 Let Your Personality Party

One of the most appealing aspects of a brand is when it has a great personality. I know.. it is strange to think that a brand can have personality but it can.

How do you determine your personality? That’s an easy one. Look at your demographic/buyer persona to determine who you are speaking to than take it a step further and note the way your employees interact with customers along with the atmosphere your business has created. This will determine the foundation of your brand’s personality. For example, if you are a professional divorce law firm a casual quirky persona may not really resonate with your clients who are having a rough time. By knowing exactly who it is you are speaking to than creating that personality will come naturally.

Step #2 Create Cool Content

Once your brand is ready to take to the dance floor creating cool content will get you noticed. There is an abundance of content opportunities your business can publish. Do you have great product photography? Or fun tutorials for customers? These are the types of content you want to spruce up and put out.

What makes it cool? Knowing your demographic again will be your best starting point. Keep in mind what content they like to see. For example, if you are a surf shop down at Jacksonville Beach it might be a good idea to showcase local surfers on your Instagram feed or even do a quick video on beginner surf tips to get those who aren’t as dialed into the surf style a part of the action.

Step #3 Be Consistent with Everything

If you want to be well liked by your customers, staying consistent in your marketing, customer service and product & services will be the key. As a customer we like consistency. If you have a meal at a restaurant one week and love it than get it a few weeks later and it is hardly recognizable than the chances of purchasing that meal again gets slimmer.

So how do you stay consistent across the board? By paying attention. Getting customer feedback is a great tool to help you keep your brand on the path of consistency. Really hone in on what they like about your brand and then work on keep those aspects on point. It is definitely okay to try something new, but keep in mind the foundations that you’ve created and your customers love. If you do that than you my friend will be solid.

Now you have the key tools to create a really likable brand that is consistent, cool and ready to party with customers. Cheers!

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04
Jan

Sixth Gear’s 2016 Resolutions!

There is something about starting a new year in business. If last years marketing campaigns or rebranding efforts didn’t really make the cut there is always another year to step your game up, the only question is where to start?

Narrowing down your brand’s “New Years Resolutions” may seem like a resolution in itself, but we’ve got a little guide that will help you outline your 2016 strategy.

#1 Social Media Musts

This is the year to really take your social media efforts seriously. It seems to be an after thought for many small businesses when it should be at the forefront of your marketing regime. Social media has quickly become a necessity for any brand looking to have a competitive edge within their industry, and 2016 will be no different.

Every year new social media platforms are introduced to the public, and businesses in all industries hop on to make their connections with current and potential customers. Your resolution will be to actively participate and utilize your social media accounts to better your business. Posting is just the beginning, this year take an initiative to learn each platform and how to best use analytics to improve how you market your content and connect on the web.

#2 Responsive Design Do’s

Responsive web design is no longer just a trend. Having a website that is easy to navigate on mobile devices is essential to having a strong web presence in your industry. The vast majority of leads lost is due to having an out of date website that cannot be viewed correctly on devices like iPhones and tablets.

Search engines like Google have already begun taking away points to those websites that do not follow the responsive design guidelines. Search engines want the best websites to be fully viewable and accessible for individuals using their search engine, and if your website doesn’t abide then your organic search engine rankings will start to fall off. Your resolution this year if you haven’t already made the switch is to have your website transitioned into a fully responsive design.

#3 Branding Benefits

Your visual identity is often defines your brand, and it needs to be clear, aesthetically pleasing and bold. If you’ve felt that your brand hasn’t had the same response it did years ago or isn’t really catching on with your customers, 2016 might mean the year you consider a rebrand or tweak of your current elements.

Some of the biggest brands in the world have seen branding changes in the course of their history. Updating your brand doesn’t mean a complete overhaul… although sometimes that is needed. Simple changes or a focus on branding other key items in your business like print collateral, social media etc. could help you up your industry game and be the bold choice your customers are looking for. This year’s branding resolution is to take a look at your brand as a whole and decide what works, what doesn’t and what could be improved for a bigger impact.

#4 Web Design Wants

Nothing says a new year like a few web updates. Trends will come in go throughout 2016 but that doesn’t mean you should ignore all of them. A few aesthetic updates on your business’s website will be able to give you a fresh look without redesigning the entire site.

Areas like the navigation bar and home page are simple spots that could change the way your customers use your website without shaking it all up. Your web design resolution is to take a look at your current website and decide if it is organized in a way that is conducive for searching and appealing to your current and potential demographic.

#5 Content Marketing Challenges

If you thought content marketing was going to quietly go away, then we need to sit down and break the news to you… it is here to stay. Content comes in various forms whether it be a blog, post or graphic. We are living in an age where there is always new content being added online, and your business will need to be as active.

Areas of content marketing like blogging are a great way to keep up and stay sharp. If elements of your business like your website are never being updated with new content your organic search rankings could start to see a serious drop. If your competitors are consistently posting and putting out new media they will soon become the desirable option to the majority of audiences that search online for products, services or speciality businesses. This year your content marketing resolution will be to put out a blog a minimum of every two weeks, so that you can remain where you are on the industry totem pole.

Now, we aren’t saying these resolutions need to all be accomplished within the first month, but make this year the year you stick to your businesses resolutions and start to see the perks of it all.

We wish all of our past, present and future clients a happy and prosperous new year, cheers!

17
Dec

Marketing Wars: The Brand Awakens

So, we may be just a little excited for the new Star Wars to come out this week, and although this our fun way of showing our fan status for the new franchise, we are also going to cover key marketing tips that will help you take on the dark side and showcase your brand’s jedi skills.

Becoming a Marketing Jedi

The task will be strenuous, it will take time and patience to become a marketing jedi… but it will be worth it. You don’t have to have a marketing budget the size of the galaxy to get the results you are looking for. All can be accomplished with a few standard rules.

#1 Keep your brand consistent. Sometimes we can go a little wild with marketing materials so it is important to understand that consistent branding will allow your customers to recognize you regardless of what print element or digital campaign you’ve launched.

#2 Be bold. Staying in the shadows is not your game, you want to come out strong in the marketing department. If you can’t give it your all to multiple campaigns throughout the year, then pick a couple. A few strong marketing campaigns compared to an abundance of mediocre ones is better. Focus on one at a time and the force will be strong with you.

#3 Stay relevant. Although it is easy to reuse the same marketing materials year after year, your loyal followers will want to see something new. Keep your campaigns whether print or digital relevant so that you keep the attention of past and potential customers.

Avoid Stormtrooper Status

Following the crowd is easy, but it doesn’t mean it is the chosen path your marketing plan should take. Although you can take note from other successful brands in your industry it is key to be original and creative, because no one likes an exact copy. So, how do you avoid stormtrooper status?

#1 Stand out. Following industry trends is one thing, but when it comes to your marketing strategy you will need to implement those elements as well as introduce new ones. If you blend in with other brands like yours, why would customers choose you? You want to give them a reason to choose your brand, and to do that you need to stay ahead of the crowd.

#2 Use your social card. A great way to set yourself apart from your competitors is by taking to social. There you can let your brand’s personality lead. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to create real dialogue with customers and showcase the type of customer service you provide and create with content the type of atmosphere your business offers on a daily basis

#3 Take risks. Not every marketing campaign is going to be a hit, but the great thing about that is you can learn from it. Not all risks pay off, but it allows you to see what works and what doesn’t. If you play it safe all year round you could potentially fall into line with the rest of your competition and could lead you back to square one. So take a marketing risk and analyze its’ results for a better strategy going forward.

Lastly, the most important lesson of all… be one with the force your marketing strategy.

03
Dec

All Is Branding & Bright

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love… with branding. When you’re a big or small business the holidays = marketing mayhem. It is the main time of the year to pull out all of the stops and show your customers what you’ve got.

So, what makes a brand really shine during the holidays?

#1 Silver & Website Gold

All year long your visual identity is the driving force behind your marketing campaigns, and the holiday season is no different. This is the time of year to add a little seasonal sprucing to your entire brand. First off is your website. There is no need to revamp your entire website for the holiday season, however you can utilize your home page to showcase specials and discounts giving your brand a good name in customer satisfaction.

Before hitting the stores the majority of customers go to the web to look up local deals and specials, so you want to make sure your website reflects current campaigns. Although this is the time of year to step up your marketing it doesn’t mean you should loose sight of the branding efforts and identity you have previously been pushing, you still want your customers to recognize your brand even under all of the silver and gold.

#2 Have Yourself A Social Little Christmas

Every great brand has a personality. Whether you are super serious or calm and inviting, that identity should be clear in every marketing campaign you do, including social media. During the holidays your social media platforms will be your best friend. They are there to give direct information to your target audience and give you a chance to showcase your brand’s personality. So before you post up your next special or holiday announcement pay attention to the wording and tone you use, keep in mind that even though it is the Christmas season you still have to carry on the persona you have worked so hard to develop online.

#3 And A Print Item in a Pear Tree

If there is one branded item to really focus on during the holiday season, it is your print collateral. Whether it is customer bags, brochures or inserts they should reflect your brand. Why? Because those items will still be around after the holidays and you want your customers to recognize your brand so it stays in their thoughts.

Many businesses see a lull after the holidays come and go, but not you. By including branded print collateral you will be the impressive business on your target audience’s mind and it will be the gift that keeps on giving.

Holiday marketing is one of the best times of the year. Share with us how you showcased your brand this year and how we can help take it to the next level in 2016!

18
Nov

Seasonal Marketing Must Haves

It’s that time of year when your marketing mayhem begins. It’s the holidays, and even if you don’t have a strategy in place, there is still time to make the most out of your business’s end of year marketing budget, and get the push in sales you’ve been waiting for all year.

Graphics Galore

Graphics for social media are one of the easiest ways to up your marketing initiatives for the holiday season. Although it might not seem like an item to immediately add to your marketing checklist, it is definitely worth it. Why? Because it is a simple way to keep your brand current and active.

Many businesses utilize holiday graphics on social media by taking the cover photo space on each platform to unleash a holiday themed image letting customers know of an upcoming holiday sale or event happening. It is essentially free advertising for your business and will be a reminder to your target audience that there are things happening all year long, which could lead to many more visits.

Email Tidings

A holiday newsletter is a simple marketing tool that can be incredibly effective. How? Newsletters offer a direct link to customers. Through a newsletter you can offer a seasonal greeting or special discount which will in turn create sales opportunities and a positive image for your brand. As a customer they want to see you care about their loyalty, and by sending a holiday newsletter you are solidifying your customer/business relationship while offering them a little something extra.

Christmas Collateral

Planning a flash sale or Christmas shopping event? What better way to let customers know than by getting a few print collateral items to hand out, keep at the register or place within bags after a customer purchase. This little reminder of holiday sales is an effortless way to market your brand.

Word of mouth is always important, but for most individuals it is often “out of sight, out of mind”. Stay with your target audience by giving them a visual piece to take with them, that way after they’ve left your business they keep in mind that there are events coming up, which will lead to a return customer.

Your business’s holiday marketing plan doesn’t have to be over the top and drain your end of year budget. A few tweaks to your social graphics, e-blast with holiday greetings and seasonal print collateral can help you stay present on the shopping list of potential and returning customers.

28
Oct

Bring Your Brand Back From the Dead…

Not every business can thrive from the start, brand growth takes time, creativity and a heartbeat. So what do you do when you feel your brand is dead? …Wake it up.

#1 Fresh Blood

When your brand’s corpse is rotting on the marketing slab, it might be time to give it some fresh blood, meaning you need to put some life back into it. If your brand is struggling to reach a target audience it may be because it’s key facets are falling flat. Your logo, vision and identity should all carry the same message and reflect the same visual aesthetics in wording and design.

A great design can really make a difference in the livelihood of your brand, so elevate your look, potentially add a more modern feel, and see if the fresh take gives your brand the jolt it’s been needing.

#2 Live Bodies

Loyal customers are the heartbeat of your brand. Without loyalty your brand will not have the backing it needs to survive. So how do you create loyalty? Implementing new marketing initiatives that involve perk programs, discounts, etc. is a great place to start. These types of programs let the bodies know that their investment in your brand matters, and that as a company you are willing to give back.

#3 Haunting Message

As a business owner you want your brand to “haunt” your customers after they leave your store or establishment. Whether it is through a catchy slogan or captivating logo design, it is important to create an emotional connection, so that regardless of where they see your copy or visuals they relate it back to your business in a positive way.

#4 Reach Beyond the Grave

Reaching beyond the grave is where your social media skills will come to life. Social media has become the marketing haven for dying brands looking to move past their fate. It allows you create connections with demographics that your brand may not have previously reached, and is why it is a necessary entity for any business looking to expand their customer base and solidify their place in the visual and social world.

Just because your brand may not seem to have a pulse, it has the chance to live again through a few marketing changes, aesthetic enhancements and defined vision. Don’t wait for the grim reaper to do his bidding, be proactive, pull your brand from the grave and live another day…

21
Sep

Becoming A Triple Threat

Some businesses are just born stars, while others have to put in the hard work to get to the top of their industry. Regardless of how you claw your way to the top, there are three elements needed in order to make Mama Rosa proud. (If you aren’t familiar with Broadway’s Gypsy, than that reference will make no sense to you.)

#1 Branding Baby

As you know, brilliant branding is the foundation to every great business. From the vision to logo, every facet needs be well thought out and well executed. No one wants to be in the chorus line forever, so you have to make your first impression count. How? Start with the basics and create a mission statement using your vision as a platform. Producing a clear intent for your customers will go a long way.

Make yourself pretty. If you want to be chosen by your target audience for the role of industry forerunner than you need to look the part. A graphic designer will essentially be your stage mom. They will make sure every visual aspect of your business cohesively works with your vision and gives a clean aesthetic customers will applaud.

#2 Into the Web

Since your branding work is just waiting in the wings, it is time to put it to work and implement its’ design qualities into your website. Why? Consumers like to see consistency and a well-rounded business. If you have a great mission but a lackluster website, than you won’t really have the whole package.

The key is to be proficient in every element. Your web design should leave the same impression as the rest of your brand so that customers will know it is you regardless if it is online or in store.

#3 A Social Line

Now that you have two core pieces down, it is time to introduce your social side. It is easy to have a great looking brand, but keeping your target demographic interested in that brand is another thing entirely. Social media allows you to showcase your vision and character to potential and existing customers.

A strong social campaign utilizes the top platforms including channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. The more the merrier. Why? Because not only is it a free way to market yourself, it is a direct line to consumers, and a facet of your company that says you are professional and ready to take this show to the top.

Your business has the ability to be a triple threat. It is a combination of perseverance, a clear vision and all that jazz… or a great design. So, are you ready to hit the stage?

07
Sep

The Art of Being Cool

It’s hard sometimes… trying to hang with the cool brands. You see them, out there, with their fancy logos and multi-million dollar ad campaigns. As a small business you want to be them, but without a huge budget how can you compete with the existing “cool kids”?

The Art of Being Cool has nothing to do with the amount of money you spend per month on “cool status”, it is about the foundation that you build, the effort you put in and the opinions created by your customers, which doesn’t always mean spending $5,000 on a monthly social media campaign, capeesh? (Yea we still stay capeesh here)

Step 1: Research for Realz

What makes a brand cool? While being cool isn’t an exact science you can take note from other industry leaders. By looking at their brand you can get an idea what customers like about them. Do they have contemporary style that speaks to a demographic or does their content differentiate them from their competition? Your approach should always be original, however, it is okay to utilize what has worked in the past for similar businesses as a foundation as they have already played the game of what works and what doesn’t.

Step 2: Branding Is So Basic… Wait is basic a good thing?

Who knows if being basic is a good thing when it comes to the cool factor, but branding basics are essential to your efforts. First is the brand vision. The actual backbone of your whole branding persona comes from your vision and mission, which includes what it is you do or provide and how it will benefit your customer base. The simpler the better.

Next is the aesthetic aspect of your branding. The logo and brand guide. This is where “cool” comes into play. You can say a lot about a brand through their visuals and is why a great graphic designer will be able to create a persona you are looking to portray.

Step 3: The New Classic

Now that you have the look and can walk the walk, it’s time to see if you can talk the talk. Content & social media can be a game changer when it comes to the evolution of a cool brand. Many business get hung up on social posts and blogs for their website. The pressure of being engaging can sometimes be so much that the content comes across as flat or fake.

Our advice? Be yourself. If you talk to your customers through content as though it were a regular conversation, your posts won’t seem so robotic or generic. The more genuine and “real” you are, the more comfortable your demographic will feel and the more likely they are to see you as a “friend” and not a business that is just trying to sell them a product or service.

Being cool doesn’t happen overnight for a small business, it takes work from you and your customers. So keep their taste in mind and give them a brand to talk about.

21
Aug

I Love You Graphic Design

The root of all good looking aesthetics online stem from a graphic designer. Websites, cool cover photos, logos, ads they are all created by an individual that has an eye for amazingness and knowledge of branding, marketing and how to enhance a simple product or service with their artistic skill.

Since they are so wonderful, why does it seem like so many businesses are giving graphic designers a vacation and attempting to produce their quality level of work? Sadly the work is never the same, and the quality… well it has customers and graphic designers around the world cringing.

The Sixth Gear Solution… hire a graphic designer and see how they will act as a catalyst for your brand’s image.

#1 Social Media Really Loves Graphic Designers

The best businesses on social media have killer cover photos & profile pics. No one can argue they look the most professional, and that is a selling point for most followers (potential customers). Nothing turns a social media follower off more than clipart visuals and thrown together photos.

A graphic designer will carefully sculpt imagery to represent your business and it will be created to the specific size of each social media channel… didn’t know that each platform requires different specs? Your not the only one, but your graphic designer knows that, so let them do what they do best and create killer visuals that fit within your social media marketing strategy.

#2 Websites Want to Move In with Graphic Designers

A website is only as good as the design. Sure a developer makes sure every facet is laid out and functions easily, but the design is what entices customers. This is 100% not something you should do on your own. It is dangerous for your brand… we mean it.

Graphic designers have the ability to design a web presence that is a visual extension of your brand. This is crucial for websites, since they often the first interaction you have with customers. So why leave it to chance?

#3 Marketing Wants to Marry Graphic Designers

Marketing collateral is either the rise or death of a brand. Ever have a rackcard or flyer plastered on your car window. The color palette is off, the font is comic sans and the design is just… rough. Yeah, thats what happens when you don’t leave marketing materials to a graphic design team.

It isn’t cheap to invest in quality marketing materials, so if you are going to do it, might as well do it right so that the collateral can effectively create leads and a new customer base. If your marketing plan doesn’t currently include a professional designer, now is the time to rethink that strategy, because the more professional your materials look, the more likely customers will take your brand and products or services seriously.

I mean… we might be a little biased, but the proof is evident. Graphic designers are an essential aspect of your business. They are there to provide the visual support your brand needs. It’s okay to admit your not the greatest artist… your graphic designer will make sure no one ever knows.

20
Jul

Wherefore Art Thou Print Collateral?

There are some out there that do not believe print materials are necessary for a small business. Although digital marketing has taken the lead, it doesn’t mean you should go without. Brochures, business cards and stationary are just a few of the print items you could consider having designed for your brand. Why? Well you will just have to read and see.

#1 Brand Awareness

Sure your target clients or customers can see your branding on Facebook or at your location, but that doesn’t mean it will stick with them. Say there are two popsicle joints in your town. Each have great products, good branding and prime locations. One sends a well designed post card in the mail, and one doesn’t. Who do you think will stick in the target audiences’ mind?

Any chance you have to put your brand in front of your consumers is a good thing. Sometimes the only interaction your customers have is at your store, so make sure your business sticks with them after they’ve left.

#2 Professionalism

You never want to be that owner that has to say they don’t have a business card. If you want to add value to your company and brand, you have to look the part. A business card is a direct line to your brand. It is a print item that a potential customer or client can physically keep with them as a reminder of your services or products sold. In a competitive industry it is important to keep up a professional image, and business cards or branded stationary sent to clients lets them see the effort put into to creating that image.

#3 Sales Tool

The whole idea of marketing is to generate sales, and your print collateral is no different. Whether the rack card you had designed is letting your audience know more about your services or your new website, it acts as a catalyst to prompt further engagement. Many brands utilize custom mailers to interest their customers through sales, discounts and visuals. Although you could post that information up on a your social media channels, a print item is an additional reminder that could be the sales pitch they needed to commit.

Don’t underestimate the power of well designed print collateral. It opens a line of communication, interest, and brand awareness for your business. When it comes to marketing your brand, the more the merrier, so consider how your print materials can enhance your vision.