strawberry cupcakes on a pink tray with a gold-coloured fork next to them

What is the strawberry on the cupcake, if the cupcake is not there?

What branding means – a guest blog by Rebecca Fountain, a qualified, experienced strategic marketer, and founder and owner of The Marketing Fountain

Ask most non-marketing people what branding means, and the majority will tell you that it’s a logo. Even the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of branding as ‘the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design’ is a watered-down version of what it actually is. 

As a marketer of some years standing, I frequently have clients who ask me for a rebrand and what they actually want is a new logo. Well, I am here to tell you that branding is so much more than just the logo. And when I explain branding to my clients, I like to use the analogy of a cake….bear with me, please.

Consider the cake in the image – what good would the strawberry be if there was no cupcake and no icing to put it on? It would not be an entirely indulgent cupcake experience. 

If the strawberry is your logo, what is the icing on the cake?

Effectively, in this analogy, the strawberry is your logo. It is the bit that you can only put on after the initial idea has been formed. After the ingredients have been bought and the cake has been baked, cooled and iced. Only then can you put your strawberry on the top. I love this analogy – not least because I love cake – but also because it helps explain branding. 

Branding is everything that you do to represent your company and your product service offering. So to get it right, branding needs to start at a strategic level.

lady wearing glasses leaning against a brown wooden door. She has her hand to her chin as if she is thinking what branding means

Do you have a strategy?

Many small business owners have great business ideas yet often find taking them to market difficult. Others launch into their market with some level of success despite not having done the groundwork for the business strategy – beginners luck

However, once the business is up and running and looking to grow, the lack of an articulated strategy will inevitably begin to slow the business down. 

Your strategy needs to be built from the ground up: identifying what your vision is for your business; who your target audience is; your strategic business objectives – revenue, share of market, what the products and services are that you offer to this market. 

Think carefully about your competitors

Do they offer similar products/services? Are there organisations that you are competing with for a share of the purse?

For instance, your target audience may be choosing between spending money on a gym membership or a new bike – your ideal client has limited surplus revenue and therefore needs to choose one over the other. What makes your offer better than buying from your competitors?

Once you know who your audience is, you can start to think about how you will engage with them: what tone of voice will you use in your communications – formal or informal; where will you engage with them – in physical places, virtually etc.? And which social media platforms do they prefer?

As you document all of your answers to these questions, you will start to create the flavour for your brand. And I’m not talking about cakes this time.

Create a portrait of your ideal client

One reliable method that I always recommend is to have my clients create pen portraits or “personas”. These are detailed descriptions of who their potential, ideal clients might be. Try to include as much detail as possible in your pen portraits – this will help you create your brand and the targeting of your communications. You can be very creative and have lots of fun with these. 

Here’s an example of a pen portrait that I created for a healthy meal kit delivery company: 

“Jon is 32 and lives alone. He works in the city with a full-on job and earns €100k+ per year. Jon prides himself on having a gym membership with an exclusive club and working out every morning. At the weekends, he likes to go hiking and off-road mountain biking with his friends. On an average day, Jon starts work at 8.30 am and is rarely finished by 8 pm. By which time he always feels too tired to cook and ends up grabbing a takeaway. He then feels guilty for most of the evening for having undone the good work of his morning routine and for his part in creating unnecessary packaging waste. His parents are both living, and he has a steady girlfriend whom he is planning to marry within the next two years.”

What does your brand say about you? 

Can you see how creating the pen portraits might help you? Each time you make a business decision, create a new product or improve your services, you can test them on your pen portrait people. So, how about you have a go for your own business?

If you haven’t done so already, write three individual pen portraits for who you think is your ideal customer. This works equally well for business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) transactions. So let’s give it a go. 

Respond to these three questions by imagining that you are the actual person behind each of your pen portraits.

  1. What is the promise that you are making that your pen portrait wants from you?
  2. What are your core values? – do these resonate with the pen portrait values?
  3. What tone of voice would your pen portraits respond to – fun and playful, scientific and concise, or something else?  

Each company has a voice that forms part of its brand personality. Therefore, consistency is paramount if you are to positively engage with your target audience.

Once you have all this in the bag, fill your boots with getting to the sexy, creative part of logo design! And for small business owners, there are some great free online tools available – making it easier than ever for everyone to create their own. 

Adding the strawberry 

But how does this impact professional designers? As more and more free online tools become available, graphic designers (and website designers too!) have to work harder than ever to earn a crust and compete with people doing their own graphic work. 

Having a stethoscope and a scalpel doesn’t make you a surgeon

What you need to remember is that graphic designers are trained professionals who understand the science of design. Whether it is the psychology of colour, understanding the latest trends, photo-editing skills and so on. A good experienced graphic designer will often do a quicker and better job than someone who isn’t trained. So always try to use an expert to create the strawberry for the top of your cake (are you still with me?).

I hope you have found the article informative. If you want to learn more about how I can help you with your business, check out my LinkedIn profile and my website

PS. As I’m not a graphic designer, so my plea to use one is genuine.

Author: Rebecca Fountain is a qualified and experienced strategic marketer. She is the founder and owner of The Marketing Fountain, a business designed to provide marketing and virtual assistant support services to start-ups and SMEs.

Many thanks to Rebecca for providing this article and sharing her thoughts on what branding means, along with some deliciously tempting images of strawberry cupcakes. If you’d like to contribute to my website, please contact me by email.

Shirley 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

Contact

Need some advice? 

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Creating Great Visual Content

Let’s be honest. Do you think that posting the occasional out of focus photo on Facebook or Instagram is a very effective marketing strategy? I have even seen photos uploaded that are not the right way up and have to tried to tilt my phone and my neck to see what it is. 

Apart from being a fool for twisting my neck, more importantly, if someone can’t spend a few minutes preparing a quick post I don’t want to do business with them.

I’ve posted a few blogs recently about improving content with professional photography, planning your content, etc. And when the following article landed in my mailbox it tied all of these topics together and also provided some ‘Visual Best Practices’. There’s not only information on how to define your content marketing strategy, but a great visual of a mind-map to go with it! 

Read the article – Visual Content Best Practices

Tell a Story

If you put in a little thought, time and effort into what you publish, people are going to remember it more. They will link great visual content to your business and you will stand out over your competitors. Think of it as telling a visual story. 

What images can you use to help to improve your text content and make it more memorable?

great visual content

If you have enjoyed reading this article please like and share.

Sharing is Caring!

 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

SAA I.T Testing

Dedicated to Quality

“Our aim is to help you improve the quality of your customer’s experience and increase the visibility of your business by providing expert advice and offering a range of affordable solutions and services”.

Find Out More

 

Understanding Inbound Marketing Terms

Now you’re probably wondering whether a blog about Inbound Marketing Terms is worth a read. Well, if you are trying to promote your business online then yes it is. 

Although I can tell you a few things about websites, user testing and writing great content, I’m still learning about Digital Marketing. So when I come across something that helps me to understand one small area of this huge subject, I share it. 

If you only get one useful idea or piece of advice from it then you have still learnt something which will enable you to better promote your online business. 

Personally, the terms Social Media and Social Media Engagement stand out the best and have got my little grey cells working overtime. Now I’m thinking of more ways to start conversations and find interesting, well-written posts to share. Google Trends might be my starting point today. 

But I digress, I’m sure you’re all thinking ‘Get on with it!’ OK. Make yourself a brew, sit down and have a read of this post from a fellow blogger. Then tell me that you haven’t learnt something new today. 

 

Focus definition in dictionary

Inbound marketing focuses on creating helpful content that pulls your buyer toward your website where they can learn more about you, your expertise and knowledge, and what you sell on their own time – without being interrupted with ads or traditional marketing. By exchanging useful content for demographic information (especially email), inbound turns browsers into leads and, eventually, leads into customers. 

Read the full post:

The Vocabulary of Inbound Marketing: The Layperson’s Guide to Terms You Need to Know

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

 

Using Hashtags #SEO

SEO logo

We have all seen hashtags on social media platforms and probably wondered what they do and why are there so many. Originally they were used to help filter and organise conversations on Twitter, but now they are present on several social media platforms. Most people find hashtags confusing because they’re not using in a sentence, just tagged on at the end. 

Hashtags are basically ‘keywords’, so they help you to categorise your content and help social media users to find it. Using hashtags in your social media posts will give you more opportunities to have your content in Google search results.

 

They’re particularly prevalent on Facebook (some might even say ‘annoying’), but also seen on Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn. But what are they and where can they be used for best effect? How many should I use? Does using hashtags improve my SEO and what can they do for my business?

Answers to all of these questions – and more! – can be found on ‘Social Media Today‘ but if you want a more concise read then I recommend you read ‘Blogging to help your small business‘. It’s informative, well written, and explains why using hashtags is an effective way to build your brand and launch new products and services.

Happy #hashtagging!

SAA I.T Test Consultant

 

‘Sharing is Caring’

If you found this useful then let me know – and let your friends know!

 

Talk to Us

Please call +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11 or +44 (0)7940 435970.

We are here Monday to Friday.

Review Us

Want to share your experience, good or bad? We are always striving to improve our product and welcome all feedback.  Please contact us today,

Follow Us

Want to keep up with our latest adventures? Follow us on  Facebook and LinkedIn 

 

Content is King

High-quality content can help enhance your reputation and improve your ranking in search engines. And as we all know, being seen can bring in new customers. 

But your online image or reputation is only as good as your content because that’s how other people see you or your business. So to reduce the number of potentially negative opinions you need to improve your image.

A terrific SEO method that can present you as an expert in your field is content marketing. Unfortunately it’s not quite as simple as just writing a few paragraphs of content and publishing it now and again. You need to create a robust content marketing strategy and to do this you have to apply the following measures. 

 

Do more displayed on a computer screen

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action..” (Contentmarketinginstitute.com)

Content Marketing Strategy

Research shows that the vast majority of marketers are using content marketing. It’s developed and implemented by leading organisations, small businesses and single-person enterprises the world over. This is because it builds customer loyalty, cuts costs and increases sales. 

 

01

Identify your audience

Who are you targeting your content for? What age range are your customers? Any specific professions or background? Local or international locations? Defining your audience will help you tailor your content and when is the best time to post it.

02

Check out the competition

Follow your competitors. What are they writing about? Keep up to date with what they are doing

03

Keyword research

Great content takes times and effort. Conduct keyword research to see what topics are trending in your business area or industry in order to base your content around them

04

Distribution

Determine what you are going to post and where you are going to be posting – blogs, videos, podcasts, emails, social media platforms. But remember, your content marketing strategy must come before your social media strategy!

05

Tell your brand story

Telling your story will help build a strong relationship with your customers. Let them know who they are dealing with, what you are passionate about. They will identify with your brand and reward you with their loyalty.

06

Create your content

Now you know who you are targeting, what is trending and your distribution channel you can start creating your content. Share it. Promote it.

07

Conversation

Once you have published your content you need to listen to what people are saying about. Set up communities or groups on social media. Respond to comments and monitor the feedback so you can review and update your content further down the line.

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

SAA IT TESTING

Dedicated to Quality

“Our aim is to help you improve the quality of your customer’s experience and increase the visibility of your business by providing expert advice and offering a range of affordable solutions and services”.

Find Out More

Planning Your Content

Planning your content - desktop items

If you’re considering adding a blog to your business website, you’ll want to have a plan beforehand. Planning your content will help your subject matter remain consistent over time. It’ll also help you determine whether or not there’s enough material to maintain a steady stream of blog posts.

One pitfall many new bloggers run into is starting a blog that isn’t posted to frequently enough. A shortage of recent posts can give your visitors a bad impression of your business. One may think “I wonder if they’re still in business” or “they may want to hire a writer.”

A blog, like any other customer facing aspect of your business, communicates your brand. If it isn’t maintained and given proper attention, people will notice. Post regularly and keep your content fresh. Give your audience a reason to visit often.

Read more >