Advertising, Marketing and Branding Blog by Mindstorm Communications.

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How to Grow a Digital Marketing Agency with Outside Capital

Building a bustling digital marketing agency is a labor of love for many online marketers and entrepreneurs. Growing an agency often requires plenty of sweat equity in addition to a well-thought-out plan. At some point in the growth process, the need for growth capital becomes urgent enough that business owners and managers start to think about taking in outside capital.


In other cases, an agency may try to grow too fast and find that it needs to bring in either outside capital or outside experts to get back on track. Whatever the circumstances, there are many situations where it is difficult to stick to your vision for the company, either due to a business setback or to the demands of outside investors. This article discusses how these situations can occur and describes ways you can overcome them and retain control of your company and the vision which drives it.


Turn Down Offers That Require a Change in Company Focus

If your business is growing rapidly it can be tempting to look for outside capital to help finance that growth. However, if doing so means you have to accept an offer that requires your company to change its focus, you may want to think twice about accepting the offer. While additional capital is welcome in situations such as these, if it causes your company to lose its competitive edge by changing its company culture or business focus, taking the money can actually be counterproductive.

Sometimes it’s necessary to make the hard choice to turn down offers that don’t coincide with your vision for the company. Taking a long-term approach can help you separate good offers from bad by focusing on how a capital investment is likely to affect the company over time. Even if the capital provider doesn’t ask you to make any dramatic changes to the company immediately, they may ask for certain rights that will allow them to affect company strategy if they desire to do so.

Accepting outside capital may require you to give up some control of the company’s direction. This risks compromising your vision for what the company is and what it should attempt to achieve. This is especially true of advertising agencies and technology companies. Any offer that gives outsiders partial control of your company’s destiny should be considered carefully before acceptance. If you decide to take such an offer, do your best to find investors who share your vision for the company.

Even when outside investors do share your vision for the company, there is always the chance that this could change at some point. If it does, you will want to have designed any agreement you make to ensure that you can still maintain control of the company and its strategy. Structuring an agreement to provide you with this type of protection can be complicated, so make sure to consult with advisors experienced in these types of deals before closing any transaction.

Track Results

To avoid getting into a position where your business is reliant for funding on others who may not share your vision, track the results of your marketing campaigns closely. Expending money without a commensurate ROI is a sure way to create a cash crunch at your business. To remain independent and stay true to your vision, monitoring the results you realize for every marketing and advertising dollar spent is essential. This is true for all agencies, whether you’re a marketing agency in Charlotte or a web design company in Seattle.


Online marketing tools make it much easier than ever before both to precisely target your marketing campaign and to accurately measure its results. If your goal is brand awareness you can track the number of impressions, or views, your ad receives for each dollar spent; if you are looking for conversions, you can track your CPC (or cost-per-click), which measures how much you are paying for each click on one of your ads.


Whether your business is focused on online sales or has a physical brick-and-mortar presence, tracking your marketing efforts from an ROI standpoint just makes good business sense. If you use the data you gain from doing so wisely, it can also help you retain control of your company by avoiding a cash shortage, which can ensue when marketing dollars are spent unproductively.


Stay on Top of Trends


The list of businesses that have been supplanted by competitors because they were unable to adapt to new developments in their industry is long. How can you help your company avoid such a fate? The key is to stay on top of the latest trends affecting your industry and business as a whole.


There are a variety of ways to do this. Having feet on the ground (or the digital equivalent of growing online businesses) is a tried and true way to get a feel for what is happening at the ground floor level in your industry. You can also browse blogs or publications that focus on your industry to get a picture of what expert observers see going on in the industry.


Once you’re able to venture an informed opinion of the major trends affecting your industry, take the necessary steps to position your company to benefit from those trends as far as possible. This can involve experiencing some short-term pain to realize long-term gains. For instance, you might find that to stay competitive your firm needs to acquire the latest industry-specific technology. While purchasing this technology may impair profits in the short run, in the longer term it could position your business to realize greater profits and stay at the forefront of your industry.


Avoid Business Mission Creep

One way fast growing businesses get in trouble is to try and do too much with their limited resources. While this may help them grow even faster, it can also lead to a need for outside capital to support this growth. In such cases, the company’s initial mission is often well within its means, but adding on additional tasks and objectives results in the mission creeping ever larger until the company finds it difficult to accomplish everything it has on its plate.

If your business becomes dependent on outside capital, it can present you with the choice of taking money from sources that don’t necessarily support your vision, or drastically cutting back your growth plans. By sticking to your core business and avoiding business mission creep, you improve your chances of growing the business using organic cash flow.


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Have you ever wondered what goes into developing a logo with a marketing or design firm? All agencies do things differently, but at Mindstorm, a little more goes into it than a one-shot production.

In order to come up with a solid starting point, we gain a better understanding of what your brand is through our brand discovery exercise. We divulge into the foundation and core of the brand including highlights such as attributes, benefits, persona, target audience, and position in the marketplace. This allows us to utilize your strengths to meet your goals.

We also conduct a brand spectrum exercise, which defines the tone and personality of the brand. Examples of question we ask during this step:

Is your brand…

  1. Masculine or Feminine?
  2. Fun or Serious?
  3. Accessible or Exclusive?
  4. Premium or Inexpensive?

It is also important to create a competitive landscape to assess the competition. What are they promoting? What color schemes are they pushing? We view going in the same direction as the competition puts our clients at a disadvantage. Our goal is to be unique. We want to showcase our points of difference.

We present the initial logo we have come up with, and based on client feedback, we tweak it. In fact, we may go through many rounds of changes. Some of our logo creatives change drastically since the first design, and others just needed minor adjustments. It’s a fun process, especially when we take a look back on the progression of the transformation!

Check out the development of a logo we recently completed for one of our clients below!



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How DIY branding can inadvertently become a “Pinterest fail”

How DIY branding can inadvertently become a “Pinterest fail”

Pinterest can be a wonderful online tool where people can access ideas to inspire their next creative endeavor. However, most of the products featured on the site are created by industry experts, which look effortless and flawless. This can create a false sense of capability when trying to tackle these projects on your own with no prior field skills. One of the most entertaining trends to sift through is called “Pinterest Fail.” This is when hopeful crafters take a picture of the Pinterest picture shown side by side their attempt to execute the undertaking, which results in a humorous disaster. If you haven’t seen them, we suggest typing in “Pinterest Fail” on your search engine to enjoy a quick laugh!

The same concept can be related to DIY branding. It can be very exciting and stimulating at first to research a method and try to execute it. While this is well-intentioned, experts in the field have spent years of research, education, and experience to learn how to accomplish results the best way possible. In fact, one wrong click on the user end and things may spiral out of hand pretty fast and you end up paying an agency to not only rebrand, but also damage control.

How do you value your time? Is it quantifiable in terms of money?

More likely than not, it’s probably priceless. When using a service like 99designs, you could actually be focusing on other things for your business instead of spending hours on logo designs then figuring out how to put it on a letterhead, etc. In the end, it may very well end up costing you more by trying to pick the cheapest route and doing the rest yourself instead of going with a professional agency from the get-go.

We’ve got 99 problems, but a design ain’t one.

For more information on how we can help you becoming a victory, visit  About Mindstorm Communications Group: MCG is a full-service creative marketing, branding, and design agency located in Charlotte, NC.

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When it comes to branding, what's in a name, anyway?

When it comes to branding, what's in a name, anyway?

As our famous lovestruck protagonist, Juliet, proclaimed, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” While Shakespeare was a brilliant writer, he was no branding expert. Choosing a name to represent your brand is an important process, and one that should be well thought out.

Questions to think about when choosing a brand name:

  • What are your goals to accomplish?
  • What is the significance of your brand name?
  • How does it correlate with the brand?
  • Will the audience understand or relate to it?
  • Can the audience easily pronounce it?
  • What value does this bring to your brand?
  • How can this name be portrayed through marketing?
  • Is it memorable/easy to remember?

Check out these examples of famous brands that changed their names! Do you recognize any of the original names?


1. Cadabra ⇒ Amazon

The original name of “Amazon” was “Cadabra,” due to the magic of ordering books online and then abracadabra! it’s on your doorstep. After it was misheard as “Cadaver,” the entire brand name was changed in order to avoid any potentially morbid confusion by consumers.


2. Facesmash ⇒ Facebook

“Facesmash” was originally created in order to compare the aesthetics of Harvard students. The name was taken by the private “facebook” inventory the school used in order to identify students. When Harvard killed the “Facesmash” initiative, “” was born shortly after, ultimately shortening it to simply “Facebook.”


3. BackRub ⇒ Google

“BackRub” was replaced by “Google,” which the creators felt more closely aligned with their mission of bringing an infinite (or close to it) amount of information to users.


4. Sound of Music ⇒ Best Buy

After a natural disaster left “Sound of Music’s” most profitable store damaged, they held a “best buy” promotion to get rid of merchandise, which resulted in extremely high sales. The company decided to change its entire name, hoping to entice “best buy” thinking at all of their stores.


5. Brad’s Drin k⇒ Pepsi-Cola

Unfortunate circumstances lead Caleb Bradham back home to open a drug store in North Carolina. During this time, he created a drink and named it after himself, “Brad’s Cola.” This drink became so popular that he decided to rebrand in order to help consumers understand that this “healthy soda” helped with digestion, much like the drug pepsin and thus, “Pepsi-Cola” was born.


6. Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo ⇒ Sony

Due to difficulties for global consumers to pronounce, “Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo” was renamed simply as “Sony.”


7. Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web ⇒ Yahoo

Named after one of the creators, “Jerry’s Guide” would be soon changed to “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” or as we know it, “Yahoo.”


8. Research in Motion ⇒ Blackberry

In a hopeful attempt to save a dying brand, “Research in Motion” changed their name to “Blackberry.” Unfortunately, the effort was in vain and the brand could not be saved. 


9. AuctionWeb ⇒ eBay

Again, another case of mistaken identity. “eBay” was the name the media gave to “AuctionWeb” and to stick with brand awareness and consistency, the company decided to make the switch official. 


Needless to say, it’s been bit of a tough year for the Belgian chocolate company, Isis, who has since changed their name to Libeert, which was probably for the best. 


Source: CNBC 2015


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When you define your brand, you define your success.

When you define your brand, you define your success.

We absolutely love our clients. They are kind, motivated people who we enjoy working and interacting with, which in turn, inspires us to help turn their branding and marketing efforts into successful ventures. 

In fact, we learn just as much from them as we hope they do from us.

For example, have you ever been part of a meeting when a fellow co-worker has tried explaining your brand, but you felt he or she was way off of the mark? Have you ever experienced that moment when you realize some of the staff in your company does not perceive your band the same way you do?

We have.

When the ambassadors (staff) representing the brand do not consistently understand the brand persona, position, attributes, core, etc., this may reflect in a miscommunication with consumers. Have you ever asked past, present, or potential clients how they interpret your brand? Do they understand it the way it is was intentioned?

During the brand discovery phase with one of our recent clients, they debated on how to pronounce their own brand name. Mind you, this company is well known and established globally.

We witness these types of conversations quite often with our own clients when initiating our branding process. It’s actually quite rewarding to go into a company, have the staff realize they actually are not all on the same page when it comes to understanding and promoting their brand, and then work with them until we are all able to not only understand the brand in the same way, but also communicate it to others as such!

We have put together some samples of how we use our Mindstorm branding process to help our brands become more cohesive and definitive:

How do you define your brand?

When a consumer (potential or not) thinks of your brand, what do you want their initial reaction to be? While you will need to get a solid understanding of who you want to be before you begin the branding process, the other questions asked will help to finalize it when we come back around to it at the end.

We believe to build a strong brand, one needs: 

  •  to provide superior delivery or services for the brand
  •  to understand the brand meaning
  •  a range of complementary elements that support marketing efforts
  •  to communicate with a consistent voice
  • to establish and own a brand personality 
  • to develop strategic pricing based on consumer insights
  • to design and implement a brand concept
  • to establish a brand awareness strategic plan
  • a brand ambassador

Define your future.

Where do you fit into the marketplace? Who are your consumers? Competition? Budget? Online? 

Define your brand foundation.

When building a brand, it is our belief that the brand must start with a solid foundation, a basis that has strong core values and extreme focus. This foundation is crucial in a variety of ways, and especially critical when entering new consumer channels. 

Define your brand attributes.

What are the core values of your business you want your consumers to experience the most? Do you focus on customer service, like Chick-fil-A and Nordstrom, fast service like Jimmy Johns or FedEx, or possibly modern innovation like Apple or Tesla.

Define your brand benefits.

How will the consumer benefit from working with your brand? Even though it may seem obvious to you, it may not be for the consumer. Lay it out and repeat throughout.

Define your brand persona.

What is your personality? Masculine? Feminine? Professional? Quirky? Which traits do you want your tone to reflect? Whatever you decide, it is crucial to maintain consistency throughout all mediums, which means every team member must be on the same page when it comes to understanding your brand persona! 

Define your brand position.

This solidifies your brand identity in terms of personality, messaging, look, and feel. We suggest creating a various mood boards (this can even be done on Pinterest), to see what you are drawn to as representation of your brand. Dark colors? Cute? Bold? Laid-Back?


So, let me ask you again. How do you define your success?   


For more information on how we can help you define your success, visit

About Mindstorm Communications Group:

Mindstorm is a full-service creative marketing, branding, and design agency located in Charlotte, NC.

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