(source: trendblog.net)

Wearable tech is here and it’s not going anywhere. From Apple’s recently announced iWatch, to wearable fitness bands like Garmin’s vívofit® and UP by Jawbone™ to “reality enhancing” eyewear like Google Glass—the world (and the way we see and experience it) are changing quite rapidly.

…and we’re about to experience a huge culture shift in how we engage with brands, inspired by this disruptive technology.

From Staged to Sincere

Just as royalty used to pose for hours so an artist could capture their essence in paint, the same frame of reference carried forward in our shift to photography. From paint to film to print to digital and everything in between, we’ve been capturing everything from personal to professional moments in a “say cheese” manner.

That is to say, we’re big on staging the scene.

SELFIES. Need we say more?

But our most beautiful, honest moments as humans aren’t staged at all. That’s why we gaze in awe at the candid brilliance of a professionally taken photograph. The average person isn’t able to capture that kind of intimacy.

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6 Great Ideas for Branded Content

by Nora D. Richardson

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Your brand should be unique enough to be memorable to your target audience. But to get even that first glint of brand recognition, you need to get your brand out in front of people. Creating great branded content, as part of your overall content marketing plan, is a fantastic way to expand your brand reach. Here are some ideas to get you started…

1. Brand your Infographics

We already know visual content marketing gets a lot of attention and people just love, love, love infographics these days. These beautified bits of information get read, shared, saved and referenced all over social media and the web. Be sure your logo is stamped in a clear, readable place and use your brand colors to really showcase your branding throughout.

2. Brand your Inspiration

Your brand identity manager or a skilled graphic designer (who is familiar with your branding, of course), can create cool, funny and/or inspirational quotes on a background of your brand colors, stamped with your logo. Choose quotes and themes that interest your target market. Post your placards on LinkedIn and Facebook to get more brand attention.

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Post image for Get Creative NOW! 8 Great Tips to Get Your Brain in Gear

Whether you’re busy running your business, bumping up your brand reach or trying to come up with creative content marketing ideas, like many creative types, you occasionally hit the wall. Uh oh. It’s the dreaded Brain Drain! Sometimes we all need a creative boost to brighten our day. Here are some tips to get your brain back on track and moving forward to a more productive, creative workday.

1. Game On!

Playing games isn’t just a waste of time. The right kinds of games can shift your focus, allowing your higher creative functions to take a break while you cruise through some spatial or math based games. Try games that claim to boost your brain through science, like Luminosity or Fit Brains. After a 10-minute bout of brain games, I feel refreshed and ready to begin my next project. (Heck, try one of our branding quizzes—they’re fun!)

2. Step Outside

It’s the tail end of summer, so get outside and sweat a little! Physical activity is a great way to clear your head. Even a short walk can provide a lot of benefits. If your climate or schedule doesn’t allow for running out the door whenever you feel like it, be sure to schedule time at the gym several times a week to keep your brain and your body in tip-top shape. Try yoga at home to improve physical strength and flexibility, as well as mental stamina.

3. Stay Up Late

While it may sound counter-productive, night owls boast higher IQs—and that can’t hurt creativity. You can argue whether this is a causation-does-not-equal-correlation issue or even whether it’s a chicken-or-egg scenario, but regardless, there’s something to be said for staying up late!

4. …or be the Early Bird

Another study says that early risers are happier and more productive. So which one do you choose? I know there are a lot of people out there who will never be happy before 10am (and are downright murderous before their coffee!), but I also know that morning people love the air at dawn.

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3 Secrets to Landing More Leads with Great Branded Site Content

08.12.2014 Better Marketing
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Your website is your window to the world because it’s your potential and current customers’ window to your business. That means your website is one of your strongest marketing tools—so everything you put out there on the web must be in line with your awesome, consistent and memorable brand. Everything from your graphics to your brand voice must be aligned and working together with all of your offline and online brand components to effectively draw in your potential and current customers.

All your website content should play nice with your brand, while working for your business to attract new customers and to impress loyal, repeat customers. But how do you know what to put on your website to showcase your brand in a meaningful way and to draw in new business? Though the answer may vary a bit depending on your industry, here are 3 great ways to convert more leads with super-killer website content and online presence.

Homepage Heroics

The trick to an engaging homepage? Stop trying to sell, sell, sell! Instead, concentrate on making a fabulous first impression. Again, be sure your brand is on display. Your brand should be working for your business to draw in potential customers—if it’s not, it might be time for a brand refresh. (And it’s the perfect time of year to start! You’ll have your new and improved brand up and running before the holiday rush or in time for the New Year.)

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Top 10 Sneaky Brand Parodies in Weird Al’s “Word Crimes” Video

07.29.2014 Branding Buzz
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Just when we thought we finally got Robin Thicke’s borderline awful tune out of our heads, the melody is back with a vengeance in Weird Al Yankovic’s new tune “Word Crimes”—and we couldn’t be happier! Not only does this catchy parody reiterate one of our favorite topics (the importance of good grammar, yes, even in the age of the Internet), but it literally illustrates each grammatical issue with brilliance, beauty and a special kind of satirical attention to detail that is impossible to resist.

Al Nails Modern Marketing

This impeccably exact parody of the original song Blurred Lines was released as part of the effective and appropriately named #8videos8days hashtag series. Those following #8videos8days were treated to a new Weird Al video release every day for—you guessed it—8 days in a row. While Weird Al himself was a little worried the marketing ploy wouldn’t go over as well he he’d hoped, he was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming show of support.

And boy did it pay off: Weird Al’s new album Mandatory Fun debuted on July 15th at # 1 on the Billboard charts—his 14th studio album was the first comedy chart topper in 50 years.

We just can’t get enough of the graphics, the vocab, the messaging, the schooling, and the smashingly punny insults. Too freakin’ funny and overwhelmingly clever. We congratulate Weird Al on this much deserved honor.

Big Brand Parodies & Sneaky Subtext

Besides the seamless videography and the typography masterwork, our favorite part of Word Crimes was, of course, all the big brand parodies and the awesome hidden tidbits. See if YOU can find them all!

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No Brand? Looks like a Scam! Crafting Better Emails for Your Business…

07.15.2014 Better Marketing
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Considering the importance placed on email as a communication tool, it never ceases to amaze me that I still receive poorly worded, unprofessional, unbranded emails. All business owners should know: every email sent out by your company is a representation of your brand. Bad email practices by business owners and team members alike are detrimental to brand integrity and therefore, business success. Email’s a big deal!

I received the following email from someone looking to help me with my online marketing. What do you think? If you received this exact email, would YOU go out of your way to contact John Smith*? (*Name and information changed to protect the guilty.)

Subject line: Best Content Writing Services !!
To: nora@ndrichardson.com
From: SEOJohnSmith@gmail.com
Dear Web Owner,
I am John Smith.
We are an Online Marketing firm with over 4 years experience in the domain. Content in any Online Marketing Campaign is one of the most crucial factors to make the campaign a success. However, in most cases the content is not good either in terms of user perspective or in terms of search engines. Allow me to offer you our Web Copywriting Services. We work hard to deliver a hassle free and time bound copywriting service to our clients so that they don’t have to wait forever for a content piece. Do let me know if your views are in line with mine and you are facing such a situation with your current service provider. I look forward to your response….
Kind Regards,
John Smith

While most businesses aren’t quite this bad, this is, in fact, a real email from a company looking to attract more customers. (Much to my surprise.) I would normally just stop there and delete this correspondence because it appears suspicious.

But we can learn a lot from John Smith’s mistakes.

Let’s dissect John Smith’s email…

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The Power of VISUAL Content Marketing

07.01.2014 Brand Design
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If color is your brand’s superpower, then businesses that understand the importance of incorporating visually interesting content into their marketing are superheroes to their target audience. Seeing as 65% of consumers are visual learners and visual data processes 60,000,000 times faster than text—you can’t really afford to have so-so branded graphics or a text-only content marketing strategy.

Check out these great ways to get more visual with your content.

Always Include an Image

Blog post? Email newsletter? Always include an interesting image, whenever possible. Get creative! We’ve all seen the same stock photos over and over. Look at your content from a different angle and see what kinds of clever images you can find that fall in line with your written theme.

Brand Best Practices: Whenever possible, include a unique, branded image in line with your overall brand image/brand personality. Sure, you might not have the time, the budget, or the know-how to create a new, branded graphic every day, but you can shoot for a unique branded image at least once a month. You can also have your brand identity manager or brand designer create a graphic you can use over and over again as a sort of branded signature!

Spice Up Your Landing Pages

Creating landing pages for downloadable free content is a great way to collect customer/lead information, measure the success of your marketing efforts, and gain important insights into what your target audience really wants. To nab more leads and nudge that potential customer toward your content, add interesting images—or better yet, add video—to back up your downloadable freebie.

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Are Your Customers Hatin’ On Your Brand Online?

06.17.2014 Better Branding
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There’s a new restaurant down the street. Great! It’s been open a few months and you have yet to try it, so you go online and look up the menu, then probably pop over to Yelp to get some first-hand customer reviews. Sound familiar? If you don’t have a close friend who’s raving about the restaurant to you in person, you know that you’d better do your homework or you might be in for a disappointing evening. Hey, you’re tired of learning the hard way.

…and you’re not alone.

Almost 80% of American consumers say online reviews influence their purchases. A whopping 93% say they look at online reviews before shopping or dining. NINETY-THREE PERCENT.

That’s no small potatoes, people! If you’re not paying attention to what your customers are saying about your business online, you might be in need of some major brand damage control. Yelp is about to launch a new tool to upload short video reviews, and we’re only going to see more cool tools like this one in the next few years!

Clearly, if you’re not managing your brand’s online presence—the time is NOW. So what’s your company doing to monitor and manage your brand’s online presence?

Creating a Positive Online Brand Presence

If your business or your brand is totally new, you’re in luck: You might be able to fight the customer crowds and establish yourself online before someone beats you to it. If you’re already knee deep in customer reviews, you can follow these steps to boost your brand’s reach and inspire positive customer relationships with your brand…

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Fast-Growing Franchises: Why Consistency is SO Influential

06.03.2014 Better Branding

Here at The Branding Spot blog, we like to talk about consistent branding.

What is a consistent brand? A consistent brand presence means that your logo, your brand colors, and the look and feel of your business is consistent across ALL of your marketing collateral and present in every way your customer interacts with your business—from website to tradeshows to business cards and so much more. We like to call this Brand Alignment.

Why be consistent? Brand consistency is hugely beneficial for your business. The more consistent you are across all your brand elements, the more recognizable your brand becomes. When you see fire engine red and mustard yellow “McDonald’s” probably pops into your head, automatically—probably even subconsciously. Consistent branding is just one reason the McDonald’s brand is so easily recognizable and memorable.

The Business of Consistency

Across-the-board consistency is the key to the overall success of any franchise. One of my favorite business books, The EMyth talks at length about this phenomenon. While not all successful businesses need to be franchises, the principle behind the franchise is what makes these businesses work.

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3 Painless Ways to Use Data to Up Your Brand Reach

05.13.2014 Better Branding
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Data is all around us, and it’s easier to collect than ever, so it’s no wonder you’re likely hearing terms like “big data” and “measurable marketing” as they’re thrown around from the C-level down to the IT department. Leading marketing companies are using a proactive approach, collecting data to predict brand success on the front end and to measure marketing efforts on the backend. While a lot of businesses hire external agencies for this sort of exploration (not to mention accountability), that’s not always an option for smaller businesses.

Does data collection, measurement and analysis seem like a huge undertaking? Well, I’m not going to lie: It definitely IS. But there are a lot of great ways even small businesses can use data to their advantage. Here’s how…

1. Collect & Care

First things first, if you’re not collecting basic customer data at every interaction, it’s time to get on that. Your best bet is to start with a simple, well-built customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Nowadays, most of the best CRMs are web-based and relatively simple to learn and use. Try Less Annoying CRM or Insightly—both are very affordable. (And hey, take your time finding a CRM that works for your team and your business. This is important. Most CRMs offer a free trial, so go for it!)

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