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Here’s Your 5-Step Marketing Plan for a Budget-Friendly Business Reopening

by Naomi Johnson, Life Based Business

Navigating your post-disaster marketing plan might be the biggest challenge for recovery (no matter what type of event occurs). The good news is that you don’t need an enormous budget to make it happen. With these five practical strategies, you can address each angle of reopening without overspending.

Need an All-in-One Solution?

For small businesses that feel lost when it comes to marketing, going the DIY route can feel intimidating. One way to streamline your marketing budget is by outsourcing the responsibility to an experienced agency. For example, Pinstripe Marketing works with your company to develop a marketing campaign to enhance your brand. From there, you decide which parts you can execute and which parts we can, and we divide and conquer. Instead of going it alone, you can rely on the expertise of an agency with decades of experience in brand development.

Step 1: Maximize Your Budget

Not every business has a nest egg to work with for disaster recovery. But whether you need to get out of a tight spot financially or invest in improvements, some cash will be necessary. So, finding the resources to pad your budget is a smart move.

Fortunately, you can boost your company’s cash flow by seeking out small business programs in your area. For example, plenty of government programs provide grants and loans to business owners. Many programs are specific for COVID-19 relief, while others have requirements based on your niche or business status. Some private companies are even offering grants to businesses that apply.

Step 2: Educate Your Team

Overseeing a remote team isn’t always easy. Case in point: often, you can’t see them at all. But online tools afford businesses more opportunities for connection than ever. Still, before you let your team loose with digital platforms and web portals filled with company data, it’s essential to offer specific information.

Outlining online safety tips as part of your remote work agreement is a helpful strategy. Rules like not sharing company devices with kids, ensuring their home Wi-Fi is encrypted, and installing antivirus software can all be part of your contract.

Step 3: Choose the Right Tools

From social media platforms to mobile apps and sales websites, tons of tools can help you reach growth and marketing goals. Narrowing down the options can easily become the biggest challenge for brands that are new to the digital landscape.

Whether you’re moving your retail store online, offering banking clients a no-touch option for deposits, or hoping to earn new customers via a delivery app, the right tools can help you reach your ideal audience. Choose automation tools for business processes, marketing and eCommerce, and even customer service (using chatbots). There are even social media tools for scheduling posts without spending all your time online. Whatever your business priorities are, there are tools to help.

Step 4: Leverage Free Marketing Opportunities

Social media offers countless ways to attract, interact with, and impress customers. Whether they’re new to your business or already passionate about your brand, catering to customers on social media is a cost-effective way to grow your reputation (and possibly your sales figures).

By improving your social media presence, you can achieve growth without investing a ton of funds. Consider steps like creating a Facebook group for your audience, posting tips via Twitter, sharing engaging images on Instagram, or sharing videos on TikTok. While social media does take effort, the platforms are free – and a great way to reinforce your business’s branding.

Step 5: Prioritize Your People

As a brand, who are your people? Your audience and in-house team are equally crucial. Prioritize both, and you have better odds of succeeding post-disaster.

When it comes to charming your customers, you don’t have to spend much, either. Knowing what they want – and empowering your employees to deliver – is a key part of the equation, notes Gallup. Employees who feel empowered are also invaluable to your business. They are more accountable, resolve problems on their own, and enjoy their jobs more, notes Chron.

Getting your business back on track after an economic downturn is a tall order. But by taking cost-effective steps toward marketing and empowering your staff, you can realize revitalization and growth. And, it may cost less than you expect.

Photo via Rawpixel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing Maintenance: Perfect Time for a Fresh, New Look

You may know that there’s something wrong with your brand identity, but can’t quite put your finger on it. It could be something that just cosmetic, or it could be something that goes much deeper.

Refresh Versus Rebrand

It takes years to build your brand identity, and you want to be able to maintain its integrity. Lots of hard work and late nights are as much a part of that identity as your logo. But, you know there’s a problem when potential or existing customers no longer gravitate toward your brand. You may need a simple refresh to show your vitality or a complete rebrand to focus on new markets.

Refresh – It all starts with your logo. You’ve seen the big companies, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi (logo progression seen above) or IBM and AT&T, slightly adjust the look and feel of their logos to fit the current trends and styles. They know that a logo can’t stay relevant forever. Now, think back to when your logo was made. The trends and styles influenced its design during that time, and could be outdated if it was many years ago:

  • Color Gradients
  • Multiple Images
  • Insensitive Symbols
  • Ornate Fonts

Older styles have a difficult time translating to digital media. The nuance gets lost, resulting in a dated look and feel.

Updating your logo requires cosmetic adjustments that symbolize your identity today. Modern design is all about thoughtful simplicity. A brand refresh allows your logo to evolve with your business. And, it’s much more than just your logo. Here are some things to consider that won’t break your budget:

  • Logo – change in color or minor touch-ups.
  • Business Name – change in font.
  • Presentations – updated with a new look and feel.
  • Business Stationery – reflects the new look.
  • Website – easier to navigate and understand at a glance.

All of your sales materials, letterhead, business cards, and digital media get the same type of spa treatment.

Rebrand – Have you recently purchased another company? Had a merger? Or has your business model and market strategy changed? If you said yes, then everything about your current brand identity may say very little about your company. A rebrand can create that distance between old and new.

Repositioning your brand can be a significant reboot of your identity, which requires dramatic changes to your visual identity. It’s also a change in messaging. There may be a new story to tell one that’s new and exciting.

  • New Mission
  • Corporate Narrative
  • More Services
  • Expanding Network
  • Professional Image

Because of these changes, your current brand is no longer sustainable, and to hold on to it any longer may cause negative brand equity. Rebranding your business is a way of looking into the future to see what your brand can be. Here are some major things to consider:

  • Investigating New Markets – business intelligence to understand target market demographics, psychographics, and historical trends.
  • Increasing Visibility – being the new kid on the block requires strategic ad spending.
  • Content Strategies – develop a narrative that fits the company’s mission and vision.
  • Social Media Campaigns – build customer engagement and loyalty over professional platforms.
  • Community Outreach – show the world that you care about where you live.
  • Business Networks – increase the reach and depth of your resources through more reliable connections.

Each of these requires the proper marketing materials to leave a lasting impression and remain front of mind when they need your services. The time and financial investments that you make toward a rebrand will pay off for years to come.

The current business environment has given us more time to capitalize on opportunities to grow our brand. This is the perfect time to update your brand identity. Some of the projects listed above can take a substantial amount of time, so they will be ready to launch when everything has recovered. At Pinstripe, we are experts in building the perfect brand identity. We have helped some of the biggest corporations in the Tampa Bay area with their rebranding. We can help you refresh your brand so that it connects with your audience. Contact us today to develop and execute a successful plan.

Pinstripe Answers: Do We Need a Bigger Trade Show Booth?

by Michael Premo, Senior Content Manager

This is one of those questions that’s bigger than it seems. Much of it depends on a range of factors that you’ll need to drill down and figure out what matters. Anything you can do to raise your visibility in a unique and engaging way will have a greater impact on your audience.

The guiding force behind any appearance at a trade show should be setting specific goals well in advance:

  • Visibility
  • Networking
  • Engagement
  • Sales Leads
  • Strengthen Relationships

These are only a few that will guide your decision on whether or not you’ll need a bigger booth.

 

Going with the Standard – Inline 10’ x 10’ Booth

It’s ubiquitous, cost-effective, and still has the ability to make a statement. You can invest the money you save elsewhere, such as premium giveaways that are memorable, or staffing that attracts and follows through on potential leads. You can also invest more in impactful graphics and furniture, electrical outlets, or other perks. Plus, a standard-sized booth is a much more portable option for multiple shows.

The downside is that trade shows are designed for fitting as many standard-size booths together as possible, which leaves your booth squeezed in among everyone else. The result is less visibility and poor locations. Premium locations cost more and are typically reserved for larger booths. At smaller, secondary shows with fewer exhibitors and attendees, the standard size can still have a big impact. But, you may need to rethink your strategy when appearing at the larger shows.

 

Inline 10’ x 20’ – Increased Visibility

As with any real estate deal, location matters. Larger booths are typically in better locations. If this fits your goals, then a bigger booth will be perfect.

People tend to gather in the aisles, which becomes a problem for smaller booths. A larger booth, plus its location, will overcome a lack of access and visibility in congested areas.

With the premium location and added space, you’ll have improved visibility, more personal interactions and qualify more leads. There’s more space for furniture, digital signage, and other highly attractive and inviting features. With all of these, you’ll have a greater impact on your audience and a higher return on your investment.

A 10′ x 20′ is a midsized booth, and they aren’t always in the best locations. If the one you’re looking at is not in a better location; for example, if it’s at the end of a row and away from the traffic, then your booth becomes a billboard, not a destination. Even if this is being offered at a discounted price, you should avoid it.

 

The Peninsula and The Island

The peninsula is an exhibit area that is at least 20’ x 20’ or larger and is open to aisles on three sides. Located at the end of an aisle, the peninsula improves visibility and accessibility. These also provide room for custom features that will make you stand out from the competition. That’s the point with this size of a booth—to show your company as a leader. Plus, it offers the space needed to exhibit new products and several areas for real-time and digital demonstrations. The peninsula exhibit booth is probably the second most popular booth next to the island.

trade show booth island style booth

This island booth demonstrates the major impact a booth of this size has. It’s basically a temporary storefront for this business. Photo courtesy of ADM Two Exhibits & Displays.

 

The island is exposed to an aisle on all four sides and is almost always 20′ x 20′ or larger.  The island booths typically have the least amount of restrictions, so graphics can be extended to the ceiling. Typical island height maximum is sixteen feet, and hanging displays are often allowed within these areas. This is the booth most attendees will want to see, and it’s the most costly.

 

Let’s Review

Here’s a quick and dirty list of advantages for all of the booth sizes we’ve discussed.

  • Inline 10’ x 10’ – Budget-conscious, yet can still yield a good return if designed with a professional backdrop and other unique features. Portable and reliable design that translates well with smaller shows.
  • Inline 10’ x 20’ – Better location and visibility for congested aisles. More room for premium features that make you stand out from the competition. Modular designs make this more portable and functional in smaller shows.
  • The Peninsula – Premium location and greater visibility. More opportunities to interact with the attendees and space for premium features within your booth. This booth means that you want to have a lasting impact on your audience.
  • The Island – Premium location and most possible visibility. Fewer restrictions on displays and signage. This is the best way to show that you’re a leader in your industry.

 

Pinstripe has helped local and nationally-based businesses with their trade show needs. We specialize in discovering their traits—their corporate character—and putting them on display. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. Contact us to tell us more about your company and the trade show booth you envision.

Quick Tip: Brand Guidelines Begin with Internal Rollout

brand style guide_featured

by Michael Premo, Content Strategist

Graphic designers and the marketing department aren’t the only ones that need to know how to steer your brand in the right direction. If you want to maintain your brand’s integrity, you need to start from within.

 

Maintaining Brand Identity

You already know that your brand is more than just your logo and tagline. It represents your entire organization, which is why we develop guidelines to keep it coherent. Any email, billboard or radio spot that steps outside your guidelines can have a negative effect on your brand identity.

  • Consistency – Because each impression counts, your brand needs to be memorable and easy to recall. Even minor changes to your brand can mislead your audience.
  • Authenticity – Any change to your brand may alter its meaning. When this happens, even as a joke or for a funny meme, it may get you into legal trouble.
  • Professionalism –When you don’t follow the guidelines, your presentations look like student projects. We call this the “Microsoft Paint Effect” because very few good things come from MS Paint.

 

The Problem Is Internal

Employees in search of creativity should leave your brand alone. To exercise their creative muscles, they should be encouraged to join an art class or build their own brand to be showcased on their personal Wix site.

Perhaps they don’t understand why the colors and typography of your communications need to always be the same—always. It’s time you educate them, and here are some quick tips on how.

Brand Awareness Survey

This will bring your fellow employees into the process of maintaining your brand guidelines. Your survey should ask several things:

  • Brand awareness – You need to gauge what they know and don’t know.
  • Current Messaging – Are they aware of what the current messaging is?
  • Satisfaction – Does the brand work for their role in the company?
  • Workarounds – Do they ever create brand workarounds? Why?
  • Suggestions – How can our brand identity be improved?

Make It an Event

An event will get more people engaged, especially if it’s fun. You can discuss the results of your survey and have a Q & A session. Yes, this requires an investment, but think of it as an ounce of prevention. Fewer mistakes mean fewer problems and lost opportunities with clients.

Distribute the Guidelines

You can send frequent internal emails that focus on the most common mistakes people make regarding your brand. Each email should direct everyone to have a copy of the guidelines or a link with quick access to them. Brand-specific templates should also be available for anything from email signatures to PowerPoint presentations. For your initiative to be effective, it has to extend beyond the guidelines.

Departmental Brand Playbook

Because your guidelines can be a hundred pages or more, you can work with each department to have specific playbooks that are relevant to their workflow, but not specific to any individual position in the company. Only the designers need to use the technical specifications for your logo. Besides, quick reference guides take less time and energy to use, so in theory, more people will use them.

Be Available to Help

If it’s outside their playbook, you need to be available to help them. Create an FAQ section in your guidelines for quick references and have an open door policy. This will keep them from feeling like the guidelines are too strict and not allowing them to do their job.

 

Brand Integrity Can Be Fragile

Anyone that touches your brand, internally or externally, has the potential to misuse it. If you really think about it, this makes your brand fragile. So, if you want to protect it and your company’s brand identity, you need to start where it has the most touch.

“Consider the brand’s custodians by establishing the full picture for the brand in a detailed style guide that clearly states every type of media it will go on. Creating guidelines for the brand in case it gets passed on, will help protect the it from misuse by other designers and non-designers who get to work with it, keeping the brand consistent,” says Evie Larson, Pinstripe Marketing Creative Director.

Larson developed the following gorgeous visual brand style guide for MFM Legal that contains design guidance covering many elements such as logo, color, composition, photography and typography. This guide follows our recommendations for style guides.

 

Pinstripe understands how businesses manage their brand guidelines. We recently helped a multinational, multi-billion dollar business refresh their brand identity, as well as maintain their brand integrity. Contact us to learn how we can develop your brand guidelines to be more consistent—to look more professional.

Rebranding? Let’s Talk About Your Logo

by Michael Premo, Content Strategist

Every company, from Fortune 500 to a small family-owned business, goes through a period when their brand needs a new look—a brand refresh. It’s such a major undertaking that often gets delayed until it starts hurting the bottom line. That’s how powerful your logo is. People associate your products and services with it on both conscious and subconscious levels.

Your logo does a lot of heavy lifting. It appears on everything, from letterhead to sales decks to trade show booths. Think of it as the cornerstone of your brand. So, it should be eye-catching, memorable, and work well for large formats or small print.

 

Three Major Aspects of a Logo

To bring your logo to the next level, it needs to answer the following questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • How?
  • Why?

It should also reflect your company’s mission and vision for the future. This takes time and energy. It’s not something that can be done overnight, plus it will take several rounds of revisions to get it right.

 

To get you started with your brand refresh, start thinking about these three major qualities of your logo:

Color Does Matter

Researchers have spent a lot of time on how people are affected by color and color theory. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on this, just know that it exists and it matters (the Pinstripe creative team knows this stuff inside and out).

Colors that are analogous or complementary will create the most impact. How they do this is through the power of communication. The right colors provide contrasts to make an object stand out, which immediately grabs our attention. A great example of this is the FedEx logo: purple and orange on a white background (Did you know that between the “Ex” is an arrow?).

There’s also the psychology of color and its significance in our everyday lives. Let’s take purple as an example. Purple is a symbol of nobility and luxury. It signifies power and ambition. The “Fed” in FedEx is purple, showing the power of the federal government.

Another color, green, is about health, wealth, growth and safety. We are seeing greens being utilized in more banking and investment firms than ever.

As you can see, color goes beyond what you like or the latest trends. To make your logo timeless, brainstorm with your creative team to come up with color combinations that speak to your mission and vision.

The Font

To be unique and clever, you’ll need to distinguish your brand from your competitors. Using a simple yet eye-catching font can achieve this. Some brands have custom made fonts, such as Coca-Cola, whereas Target uses Helvetica (a very common font). It’s all in the presentation of the name, so you’ll need to be flexible.

Like Coca-Cola, your logo can be the name of your business, also called logotype. There are strong fonts available that represent your brand personality and send the right signals to potential clients. You also want to find something that will last, while remaining open to simple changes to fit the times. Just remember that keeping it simple is the best option. Again, the creative team that works on your rebranding campaign will guide you in font selection.

Symbols, Meaning and Motion

A symbol or picture can be a representation of your brand—the who, what, how and why. This is where negative space is a big help. Negative or blank space keeps the logo clean and makes it clever. You can introduce shapes as another way to help your logo maintain a professional look. Two of the most common are squares and circles. Many law and accounting firms place their names within a rectangle to show honesty and stability.

A symbol can also provide motion, such as the Nike swoosh or the Amazon arrow that looks like a smile, too. These act as metaphors for what the brands do. Turning a circle into a sphere will give it motion. The teardrop in Cott Corporations’ logo also shows movement. All of these are important if you want to show your audience the meaning of your company.

 

A Logo That Establishes Relationships

As you can see, bringing all of these elements together into one logo is very important. And, it’s important to remember that it needs to be balanced and flexible enough to scale without any issues. The logo should have positive symmetry and appear balanced in any configuration. It should also be visible and readily identifiable in black and white.

“We can explain the “how” all day; how color, font, and form come together to create a powerful logo, but ultimately you need to leave it up to your creative professionals like Pinstripe Marketing to design and color your mark. You do not want to DIY something like this, it’s just too important and the design process is too specialized to have your niece do it for free or even have your in-house designer whip something up. Logo development is a very strategic process,” says Nikki Devereux, Director of Account Management at Pinstripe Marketing.

Pinstripe has helped local and nationally-based businesses with their logo. We specialize in discovering their traits—their corporate character—and putting them on display. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. Contact us to tell us more about your company and the logo you envision.