How To Leave Same-Old, Same-Old Design Firms Behind
What does every graphic design firm have in common? Well, just about everything.
If you happen to bundle a group of graphic design firm websites together and analyze them, you’ll quickly see they all appear very much alike. It’s as though they’re all singing from the same song sheet. They’re all using the latest web dynamics, all have a portfolio section, and all tout that they do branding. Not much differentiation here.
Designers see branding as a visual solution
Let’s hit that branding link. What you undoubtedly find is they all will show their belief that branding is a visual solution. We know this to be the case, because it’s apparent most design firms see branding as a logo. Re-branding to most design firms is changing the logo and marketing materials. Right? The conversation is the same with everyone.
Strategy is more valuable to your clients
If you really want to stand out among your peers, you may want to consider being a strategic design firm. Positioning yourself as a strategic thinker places a great deal more value on your work, in the eyes of your clients. Decisions you make regarding branding are based on using strategy to define your clients’ differentiation in their markets (with design to follow, of course). Being a strategic thinker opens up opportunities with higher value clients who need leverage to compete. (more…)
Confidence: Do You Need It to Be Great at Branding?
Last week I heard a well-known newscaster talking about what it takes to become great in the news industry. Although he said he doesn’t often give advice about success in his field, a friend had asked for some pointers for his college graduate son who was just starting out in the business.
After thinking about it, he decided he didn’t want to rehash the “work hard, make great connections, always be learning” mantra so often heard by newbies in every field. it occurred to him that the MOST important element for his own success—as well as that of his strongest competitors—was confidence.
It takes confidence
He said, “I told the kid, ‘You’ve got to communicate so that what you say, people feel that they haven’t really heard it until they hear it from you—even if they already have heard it.
‘You have to be so sure and convincing that people stand up and listen. I’m not talking about arrogance or pomposity or presumption, it’s different because it’s backed by your sureness.
‘This confidence comes from the fact that you’re prepared. That you have researched your subject matter, that you know what you’re talking about. This confidence convinces people that you can be trusted, because what you’re talking about is true, and real, and can be backed up.’” (more…)
Boy, Do We Know HOW (magazine)
We don’t like to brag, but we thought it important that you benefit from our relationship with HOW Magazine. Because maybe you didn’t know that for the past several years, we’ve collaborated with them to deliver high-value content on the topic of strategic branding.
It all started a few years ago with a few branding webinars for HOW, and neither we nor HOW knew how they would go over. Well, they did go over, and big time—and their listener base asked for more, which led to a speaking gig at HOW Design Live in Boston. We were booked into the big room where Marcia and I addressed almost 900 design professionals. (Originally our talk was to be in one of the smaller break-out rooms, but the registration kept growing and growing until we were moved to center stage!) From there we rolled out content HOW could share with their subscribers and customers.
You can find these products of ours through HOW:
At HOW’s MyDesignShop:
• How to Talk About Branding webinar $39.99
• How to Make $20k to $50k on Your Next Branding Project webinar $39.99
• Common Mistakes Designers Make with Branding talk from HOW Design Live $34.99
• Common Mistakes Designers Make with Branding webinar $39.99
• How to Position Yourself as a Branding Expert webinar $39.99
• Selling Without Selling webinar $39.99
You’ll see this course marketed frequently (more…)
The Value of Positioning: Defining Your Client’s Competitive Edge
Why do you need to think about positioning your client’s company as a part of branding? We’re designers, so why not just jump right to design?
If you’re like most designers, you don’t just want to “decorate,” you also want to help your clients be successful. And while you know the immense communication value of design, you also know that design alone can’t tell the entire story when helping your clients with their business objectives. Positioning gives the organization a competitive edge. It gives value to their brand and informs the design, so the design can become even more powerful as it reinforces and supports the positioning. Positioning the organization in the minds of your client’s customers, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer, is one of the most valuable things you can do for your client—and it’s the strategic element your client is the happiest to pay for.
What’s the business challenge?
It all starts with knowing your client’s main challenge. Are their sales down? Is employee morale flagging? Are they entering a new, unfamiliar market? Shoring up the brand can help all of these situations, and it all hinges on positioning, or differentiating your client’s company in the market.
The consumer has too many choices
There are just too many choices for consumers today. Why pick one company over another? What makes them different? Put another way, why should your client’s customers choose their company or product over their competition, and how can you help with that? Being able to have these conversations with your clients and prospects, and showing how your creativity, knowledge, and intuition can powerfully position them with strategy and design, can mean the difference between (more…)
How to draw attention to your brand
Your brand is all about who you are—what your reputation is. And contrary to the popular business motto, “It’s all about who you know,” the reality is closer to, “It’s about who knows you.” And frankly, they can’t know you if you do nothing to draw them to you. You have to do what it takes to draw that attention. It has to be a concentrated effort and one that is consistent with your brand values.
Blogging showcases your knowledge
One of my favourite methods to draw that attention is by blogging. This is where you get the opportunity to show what you know. Readers can quickly see if you have the kind of knowledge that could benefit them. Blogging allows you to share what you know with people who are searching for it. That could be personal experiences, how-to, resources, and contacts you’ve accumulated over the years. The biggest mistake you can make with blogging is writing too many posts that are “salesy.” Salesy makes it about you and it should be all about your audience—and what they need. Blog posts don’t have to be lengthy, either, although they can be. The point isn’t that you write a book, it’s more about the content. Sometimes I just draw the audience’s attention to something new I think they might find useful.
Use email marketing to show value and to sell
Another favourite channel is email marketing. This relies on an email list of people who want to get what you’re putting out there. They become your private audience. Newsletters are wonderful channels to give your potential customers plenty of valuable content, and also to sell. What you send out should have that un-salesy content, and newsletters also offer the opportunity to show what you offer. You can grow your list by giving something of value on your website. To get this bonus, your audience registers with their email address and