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Quick Tip: Brand Guidelines Begin with Internal Rollout

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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.

Pinstripe Answers: How Do I Fix a Bad Online Review?

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by Michael Premo, Content Strategist

This is a question we get asked about a lot. Getting rid of a bad review is not easy, but there are ways to fix it, all of which depend upon where it’s at and your level of interaction.

Many of our clients are in the professional services industry. They rely on recommendations and positive online reviews through sites such as Google, Lawyers.com and the Better Business Bureau. Occasionally, they’ll get a bad review on one of these sites or other lesser-known ones that may have a long term effect on their reputation. While there’s no single easy fix for a bad review, there are many approaches to lessen the effects, and in some cases turn a negative into a positive.

 

Where It’s at Matters

In real estate, location matters. The same can be said for a bad online review. Some websites allow you to respond, while others don’t. The trick is to watch them closely, set up alerts through Google and hire a reputation watchdog.

Let’s take a look at where and what you can do about it.

  • Social Media – Respond Directly and Send a Direct Message (DM)

You have “complete” control of your social media account; therefore, you can delete anything posted directly to your wall. But, business reviews on Facebook or other social media platforms cannot be deleted. You can respond to them, and this article will tell you how to formulate a positive, non-adversarial response.

Another way to handle a bad review is to send a direct message to the reviewer and find some sort of common ground. This may require an investigation into the source of their frustration, as well as some humble pie. The point is to see if they can change or delete their rating. Be very careful about your approach and the words you use. And, be humble, because saying the wrong thing could make matters worse.

  • Google – Respond Directly if Possible and Respond to Review

The world’s #1 search engine also provides its users with business ratings and snippets of reviews. You can “Manage Reviews” in your Google My Business account. Avoid using your smartphone or another mobile device when doing this. Your laptop/desktop gives you the ability to take your time and collect your thoughts—make sure spelling, grammar, and tone are correct.

Take a moment to assess a negative review before you respond. Was this customer a good fit for your business? How were their expectations not met? Can you reach out to them directly? A response is necessary, especially when there’s nothing you can do or say to make them feel better about your business. Just make sure that you follow proper etiquette and maintain a very professional posture. At all costs avoid getting into a back and forth argument with the dissatisfied customer. This is unprofessional and will make you look worse in the eyes of your audience.

A similar approach to responding to Facebook reviews can be taken here as well. Respond directly to the client by reaching out to them personally in an attempt to mend the relationship. In turn they may remove their negative feedback or change it to a positive. Win-win situation here!

  • Lawyers.com – No Response

What do you do when you can’t respond to a bad review or several of them? You go on the offensive and reach out to as many clients as possible and solicit positive reviews. To capture their attention, offer them something in return, such as a book that’s relevant to their industry or free consultation. Be creative with this, because the more you get, the less substantive that negative review will be.

  • Yelp.com – Respond Directly and Send a Direct Message (DM)

People are paying attention to how you respond to a positive or negative review. So, you need to respond to every review, but take your time to know more about a negative review before you respond. If you don’t know the “whole” story, you may hurt your chances to change that bad review. This starts with reaching out to the reviewer. If you know their email address, send them an email. If not, you can DM them through Yelp. Find out more about the situation and how you can remedy it. If they aren’t willing to respond, then compose and post your response to their review.

 

Your Response Needs to Be Timely

You need to respond as quickly as possible for each negative review for a couple of reasons. The first is so others will see that you are committed to your clients and care about their experience with your business. The other reason is that you have a major opportunity to change a bad review into a good one. According to Yelp, you have a 33% chance to change a bad review into a good one if you respond within 24 hours.

The Pinstripe PR team are reputation management pros and can help mitigate negative comments. We have helped local and nationally-based businesses with their online reputation. Contact us to learn how we can help strengthen your reputation.

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.

How to Address the Creativity Squashers in Your Organization

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Being creative is not a “luxury that you can’t afford.” It’s not just something for the dreamers, the wanderers, the artists. As a matter of fact, creative marketing is a differentiator, especially with all of the messaging that’s out there. It is essential to the lifeline of your business, and anyone who thinks creativity is a waste of time is certain to fail at business.

 

The Internal Tension

Creative marketing strategies and strategic implementation may create a lot of internal tension during the early stages of development. So many different opinions collide when concepts are presented. These opinions often reflect the internal views of the firm. Any of these sound familiar?

  • We’ve never done it that way!
  • That won’t work.
  • The boss will hate it.
  • Don’t rock the boat.

These opinions are what we call “Creativity Squashers,” and they often hold back the true potential of a great marketing campaign. Unfortunately, none of them address the real problem, and that’s how to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

There are also some preconceived notions about what creative marketing is and how it needs to be handled. Here are some good ones that we hear all the time:

  • We don’t have the budget for it.
  • Let’s sleep on it.
  • It’s not in the plan.
  • There isn’t enough time.

These fail to recognize the need for eye-catching designs and unique concepts that gain more traction with the target market. Plus, you don’t have to spend more money when being creative. You just need to be more aware of what your competition isn’t doing and how you can capitalize on that.

 

Recognize “My” Organization

Creative marketing doesn’t change your firm’s identity, and it won’t require more work. It simply needs readjustment to standard ways of thinking—to step outside the box. To help your firm adjust to new ways of looking at things, you can respond quickly to this negative feedback by using the following techniques.

  1. Ask Open-Ended Questions

You need more information on why their opinion is the way it is. Yes or no answers won’t cut it, so learn how to ask open-ended questions to be more engaging and less adversarial.

  1. Listen Carefully

For this process to work, you need to be in the moment. Don’t let your mind wander and never look at your phone. Details matter, and you’ll need these details to reframe their negative opinions.

  1. Don’t Get Defensive

It’s their opinion, not yours, so don’t get defensive or attack. Most people will see this as a sign of conflict that they want no part of. The moment you get defensive is the moment you lose your opportunity.

  1. Reframe Negative Comments

You’ve listened to their opinions and exactly how they feel. Now, it’s time to transform their thinking and reconsider things in a positive light. Positive reframing is a skill that’s learned, and it will become invaluable to overcoming adversity.

  1. Use Data

It’s time to really drive your point home—to really convince them to change. There’s no better way than pointing to data that supports your argument. Using data is a great way to show changes in the market or consumer attitudes.

  1. Gather Consensus

Having more than one person’s opinion is more substantial and credible. It also shows organizational support. Take the time to bring others in on your side and use their opinions to show consensus.

Respecting everyone’s opinion is important, especially when you believe it’s misplaced.

 

Creativity: A Calculated Risk

Most creative ideas are never implemented. They typically end up on the cutting-room floor because our preconceived notions often get in the way. Creativity takes some risk, but it’s often a calculated risk when you rely on data and trends. Plus, you’re not losing or changing your brand identity to gain more attention. You’re simply trying to stand out from the competition in a crowded market.

At Pinstripe, we have some of the most creative people working for our clients. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. We have helped local and nationally-based businesses with their marketing needs for over two decades. We specialize in discovering your traits—your corporate character—and putting them on display in creative ways. Contact us to tell us more about what a creative campaign would look like for you, and we’ll help you get there.

Video Interview Tips

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More and more companies are placing video interviews on their websites. So, chances are sooner or later you may end up on the interview side of a video, especially if you are a thought leader or executive in your company.

If this sounds like the last thing you want to be doing, you are not alone. Many people, even great public speakers, hate being recorded on video. Being on video is awkward for everyone.

It’s frustrating when you stumble over sentences and phrases that you’ve repeated effortlessly in speeches, elevators, and at events countless times. You’ll eventually ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me? I should know this.” Absolutely nothing is wrong with you.

Below are a few tips to prepare yourself for your next video interview. These will help you get over any frustrations and the anxiety of being on camera.

  • Prepare your notes, but don’t over-prepare – You’ll end up making yourself nervous. Don’t try to recite word for word the answers you’ve typed up on a sheet of paper. It will sound unnatural. Instead review the questions and get a general idea of what you’d like to discuss, but let it flow naturally during the interview.
  • Videos can be cut and edited – Don’t think that you have to get it right on the first take.
  • Remember that you can also return to a question later, once you’ve warmed up – Sometimes the first questions need to be revisited because you were still getting the hang of it.
  • Keep it conversational – Talk to the interviewer as if you were chatting at a networking event or even talking to a close colleague/friend.
  • Sometimes you need to take a deep breath and grab a glass of water – Do this when you feel stuck with an answer, or you start to get caught up with overthinking what you’d like to say.
  • Leave the paper on the table, don’t use it as a crutch – It’s not going to look good if you keep looking down at your answers on a sheet of paper and the sound of the paper crinkling may be picked up by the microphone.
  • Dress comfortably – Wear what you would normally wear in a professional setting. Make sure to confirm with the video team if you will be filmed torso only or if you need to make sure your pants or skirt are pressed.
  • Patterns are ok as long as they aren’t too tiny – Consult your video team for styling tips.
  • Wear normal makeup + 10%

These tips should help you become more comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera. If you’re interested in creating a series of videos, Pinstripe can help you. We’re experienced with professional, high-quality production to make you look good enough to rise above the competition. Get in touch with us.