Nextphase Strategy Blog

Put Your Best Face Forward

When you manage a brand, you have an image to groom. This is especially true online, where people from all around the world are constantly scrutinizing your brand. What’s more, it takes a very long time to create a positive brand reputation on the Web, but it takes just seconds to ruin it. 

What, then, should be monitored to protect your brand’s image and prevent any mishaps? Any posts, feedback, mentions, reviews, testimonials, comments, links and more containing the following should be monitored closely.

  • The name of your company
  • Brands operated under your company
  • The names of your employees
  • Your corporate website domain
  • Phrases that identify your brand
  • Your clients
  • Your competitors

Monitoring can be done quite easily by using tools such as RSS Feeds, Google Analytics/Alerts, Hootsuite, and Twitter Search. If you see any flags, respond in a timely manner, while being courteous and professional. Likewise, if you receive positive feedback, show your gratitude- a few words can go a long way and this will help in spreading a positive online image of your brand.

What Colour is Your Business?

Regardless of our culture, gender, or age, we can’t help but be drawn in by the colours surrounding us. Indeed, colours are everywhere, all the time, and they are one of the first elements our brains process when we notice something. Colours are so powerful that they stimulate our nervous system and evoke physiological and emotional states.

Of course, our unique experiences influence how we perceive colours as individuals. This is why the same colour can often mean different things to different people. For example, writing one’s name in red ink may mean nothing to a Norwegian, but it is condemned by a Korean as red is linked to death. So, it should come as no surprise that colour can be part of your marketing strategy to influence your customers’ purchase decisions.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common colours in business and how they are interpreted in North American culture.

  • Red

o   Commands attention
o   Stimulates senses
o   Symbolises energy, excitement and passion
o   Encourages action; thus, a selling colour

  • Yellow

o   Represents cheerfulness and playfulness
o   Uplifts people’s moods
o   Stimulates mental activity
o   A fun, happy colour

  • Green

o   Creates a sense of calm
o   Associated with nature, environment, vitality, and health
o   Soothing on the eye
o   Colour of money 

  • Blue

o   Most popular colour in business and in general
o   Implies loyalty, trust, and conservatism
o   Reduces tension and fear
o   A reliable, responsible colour

  • Black

o   Suggests authority, boldness, and stability
o   A classic, luxurious feel
o   The ultimate power colour
o   Can add seriousness or weight to a brand

  • White

o   Colour of new beginnings
o   Symbolizes simplicity and organization
o   Associated with innocence and peace
o   Adds purity and transparency to a brand

Now, take a look at the colours used in your business’s brand assets: your logo, brochures, business cards, office, website, and so on.  And remember to take into account your target market. Are your colours painting the picture you want reflected in your marketplace? 

Top 5 Tips for Professional Marketing Material

Even with the importance of the web these days, most companies still have a need for printed materials – whether they are brochures, product sheets, newsletters, presentation folders, trade-show hand-outs, direct mail, case studies and so on. Here are our top five tips for developing compelling, sales-oriented marketing materials.

1.   Define whom you are writing for. Resist the urge to develop content for a variety of audiences. Appeal to your main audience with content that will lead them to take action.

2.   Hook them with the headline. The headline is what will initially capture attention and prompt the reader to read on. Make sure that it is short, concise and communicates a key benefit.

3.   Use subheads to guide content. Subheads help guide your reader through your document, separating it into manageable, readable sections. They can also highlight benefits and keep interest at a peak. Used appropriately, they’re powerful tools for getting your message across clearly and effectively.

4.   Be sure all your materials have a ‘family look’. Every piece of literature doesn't have to look identical, but they should all look planned as a compatible unit. Picture all of your marketing materials laid in front of you on a conference table. Does it all look like it comes from the same company? It should.

5.   Invest in good images. Companies sometimes scrimp on getting good photos of their equipment, job sites, people and projects. Strong, professional photography will go a long way to reflecting the quality of your product or service while amateur snapshots can give a poor impression. Consider professional photography as an investment in your future.

Building Brand Equity for Small Businesses

The Basics of Building Brand Equity

Brand equity is a buzzword that is often tossed about in conversation, but not typically defined or measured. So what exactly does it mean? Personally, I like this definition from

A brand's power derived from the goodwill and name recognition it has earned over time, and which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brands.

Brand equity is difficult to measure, but very valuable. Think Coca Cola, Nike and IBM – the world’s top three brands.

So how can you build brand equity for your business, particularly when your budget is stretched? Here are three essential steps to leveraging your brand:

1. Begin with a clear, focused position

The first step to building brand equity is to define your positioning: the single thing your company stands for in relation to your target customers. The emphasis is on a single differentiator: what really matters the most. Is it bend-over-backwards service, unique technology that saves money or the ultimate in luxury? This exercise can sometimes be challenging, but it’s worth the effort.

When you’re defining your position, make sure that you survey internal and external audiences to ensure that their perspective matches yours. If not, there is work to be done to fulfill that promise.

2. Communicate who you are

Now that you’ve definitively determined who you are, you need to communicate that to your target audiences and make sure that the way your company looks and feels to the outside world matches your brand promise. Have a look at your branding program or hire an outside firm to conduct a brand audit. Do your name and logo make the impression you want? And what about your website – this is typically the first place a prospective client goes to learn more about your company. If you’re in a conservative field that requires a high level of trust (legal, accounting, engineering, finance), professionalism is paramount. If you’re marketing to young consumers, fun and edgy might fit the bill. At any rate, you want to look like you’re a going concern and not home-grown.

3. Reinforce the message

A good way to erode your equity is inconsistent branding across different mediums. Ideally, all of your communications materials should have a common look and feel as well as messaging. Also don’t damage your brand by straying away from its values. For example, if you’re a premium brand, resist discounting, ensure that distribution channels are in sync with what is expected of a premium brand, and build consistent associations throughout your promotional campaign.

In Conclusion

The above steps are the foundation of a solid brand strategy. Remember: start with a clear, focused position, effectively communicate your message and be diligent in how your brand is represented in the marketplace. You don’t need a big budget to do this – only some time.