Advertising, Marketing and Branding Blog by Mindstorm Communications.

Welcome to the Mindstorm Communications blog or random thoughts and marketing information!

MCG BEHIND THE SCENES: LOGO DESIGN

MCG BEHIND THE SCENES: LOGO DESIGN

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 www.gomindstorm.com.  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, “thefacebook.com” 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 www.gomindstorm.com.

About Mindstorm Communications Group:

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

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Big Branding Blunders (even the experts couldn't get these right!)

Big Branding Blunders (even the experts couldn't get these right!)

Everyone cannot get everything right all of the time. While that is assumed, it seems as if the biggest blunders in branding history could have been easily prevented with common sense and a second opinion. Fortunately for the bigger companies, when their experts get it wrong, they have the backing of corporate resources to try again. Some start-ups and entrepreneurs might not be able to bounce back for a second chance at it. When Mindstorm sees incidents (like the ones below) happen, we wonder not only how the brand discovery and identity of the company was defined, but also how those standards were indoctrinated into the rest of team. It is critical when establishing a brand to be consistent throughout all mediums, but if the employees aren't all on the same page, it can yield detrimental results. See below.

Check out these examples of branding mistakes still burned into our memories: 

 

1.)          social media blunders

 

It’s probably best not to use the controversial outcome of a high-profile case, such as the Casey Anthony trial, when promoting your desserts.

 

 

 

Kia collaborated with Cheezburger (known for their silly cat memes) on this ad. We’re still not sure what we’re looking at or how it relates to buying a car.

 

 

In wake of a major tragedy, it is best not to offer condolences and promote your breakfast product in the same tweet. This seems insensitive and insincere.

 

2.)          logo designs

This is one of my favorite branding disasters of all time. In 2010, during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, Gap decided to rebrand without any prior notice. The public outcry was so fast and intense, Gap replaced the new logo with their old one after only 6 days, costing them a giant headache and about $100 million.

 

 

Neon squiggles. Brilliant. I wonder how much they paid that artistic toddler to come up with that design?

 

3.)          brand identity

 

 

Remember Quikster? Probably not. This was the DVD-only branch of Netflix. After severe backlash, they quickly dropped this service due to user concerns. Who is Quikster? How is it associated with Netflix? Should I trust them? We just have so many questions…

 

 

By taking out the description of what product you actually offer, it can make it more difficult for people to recognize who you are, regardless of an established logo. By trying to become more “hip” for a younger generation, Pizza Hut only proved just how out of touch it was with both its audience and brand identity.

 

4.)          marketing efforts

 

 

As it turns out (thankfully), it was actually a submission in a competition mocking the ineffectiveness of PSAs. It should probably come with a disclaimer as there were some people on the internet who were pretty upset over this ad.

 

 

While using sex in an ad may make it more receptive to an audience, sexual assault is never a good way to promote a product.

 

For more information and strategies on how to successfully brand, visit www.gomindstorm.com

About Mindstorm Communications Group:
Mindstorm Communications is a full-service marketing, branding, and design agency located in Charlotte, NC.

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five reasons you're losing work to your competition (and how to combat it!)

five reasons you're losing work to your competition (and how to combat it!)

Just recently, we learned that we lost a bid for a branding campaign. I always like to know why we lose a bid so we have a better understanding of our competition, our consumers’ motives, and how or if to adjust accordingly. For this particular bid, the owner of the business told me that his wife's best friend’s son was into designing logos. How does an agency compete with that? It seems almost as if everyone has a friend who has a friend, who has some connection to creative or web designers as well as someone in marketing. It is always possible to debate not hiring “the wife’s best friend’s son” but sometimes it is more beneficial to pick and choose battles wisely.

How are we able to anticipate avoiding losing potential work to the competition? We compiled a list on five ways in which you may lose work to a competitor, and how to manage these challenges:

 

1.    Right Place, Right Time

When shopping for the perfect gift for a family gathering for the next weekend, I received an email offering me “Buy One, Get One Free” bundt cakes. Well as it just happens, my family really enjoys bundt cakes and that bundt cake email offer sealed the deal for me. I needed a gift, they offered one that would not only satisfy my needs, but they threw in a deal! They gained a customer because they presented themselves in the right place at the right time.

This may take some initial networking and research, but finding out when a client is looking for a specific service and handing to them on a silver (no, golden) platter makes the process easier for both parties to pitch and accept and a solution. You may even want to add in an exclusive offer to sweeten the deal.

 

2.  A Friend

Word of mouth is considered the most powerful type of referral, even more so when it comes from someone trusted.  If there is even a hint of connection there (mom’s best friend’s son’s roommate), it removes the apprehension of working with someone who is not as familiar, and also eliminates the stressful search process. This one is especially difficult to combat because there can be a mutual benefit to hiring a friend with the mentality of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

However, as wonderful as it can be partnering with a friend, the downside can potentially lead to an unpleasant interaction. If personalities do not mesh well when it comes down to business, or egos get in the way of the work production, things can get messy. We suggest to clients (and friends) to avoid going down this route as to prevent any uncomfortable strain on personal relationships.

 

3.  Search Engine

More often that not, a quick keyword search into your favorite search engine is the go-to method for initial research. How often do you venture from the first page of search engine results? Did you know that Google has a second page?

Obviously, the ultimate goal is having a stellar SEO (search engine optimization) plan, but if everyone knew how to get their Google ranking on the first page, strategic searches would be impossibly irrelevant. Offering some sort of eCommerce will help boost your rankings, as well updating site content and blogs.

 

4.  Smartphone Search

There are countless programs and technology at our fingertips, regardless if it is on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop. Apps such as Yelp or even Maps are being used more and more to search for places or services, so if a business is not currently high-ranking on the program the smartphone is pulling from, a competitor might show up in the top results listings.

Location is still everything. This increases value in your rankings as operating systems now pull from location services. The closer you are to the city center, the more likely you will show up on searches. Additionally, reviews can tremendously help or hurt your business, especially if they are consistent ratings. Do you ever check the reviews and ratings of an establishment before deciding take your business there? Chances are, one star ratings will cause for immediate elimination, but five star ratings still do not instill confidence until further descriptions have been reviewed. Another factor is how the business under scrutiny reacts to their evaluations as we can see in online forums such as the Better Business Bureau and Facebook.

 

5.  Forget-Me-Not

It may be as simple as your potential client just forgot about you/your agency during the hustle and bustle of life. This is why it is so important to stay top of mind and check in with your potential client consistently, so you are conveniently there when they are finally ready to hire someone for services.

Check in with them every month or so via phone or email. Don’t always remind them that your services are available, and keep conversations light by speaking about business as well as topics relevant to their personal lives. If time and expenses allow it, set up a standing monthly coffee or lunch. This is a great opportunity to keep each other updated on your specific industries, while maintaining friendly conversation.

 

 

For more tips and strategies, visit www.gomindstorm.com.

 

About Mindstorm Communications Group:

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

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gomindstorm series - brand pitfalls

gomindstorm series - brand pitfalls

Don’t make these branding mistakes!

Branding can be a tough process, especially if you may not even be sure what a brand is to begin with.  We know. We work with entrepreneurs and established clients every day who are trying to improve or reinforce their brands. We’re experienced in what it takes to have a strong brand and we’re with our clients every step of the way.

 

8.  NOT UNDERSTANDING AND COMMUNICATING YOUR BRAND INSIDE AND OUT

Take a moment to describe your brand in five adjectives or less.

If you had to stop and think about it, then you aren’t as familiar with it as you should be. How would others describe your brand? One of the most effective methods of resonating the true meaning of your brand with anyone is to tell an engaging narrative. How can you incorporate your foundation, elements, pillars, and brand box?  Which point of difference can you sell off of? Which attribute is going to resonate with the buyer?

If your own employees don’t understand the brand, how can you expect anyone else to? It is essential to integrate your brand into your company’s core. Not educating all people associated with the components, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to representation, can be a fatal flaw.

 

7.  FALSE PROMISES

We’ve either witnessed have been on the receiving end of an impossible expectation. The results of this exchange are usually less than satisfactory for both parties. Stay away from temptations of being inauthentic, overeager, or promising what you don’t have the capabilities to deliver. Build promises you can keep and obtain. Focus (flaunt!) on your strengths and FOLLOW THROUGH EVERY TIME. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a genuinely trusting relationship.

 

6.  NOT COMMITTING FULLY TO THE BRAND

A failure to support the brand concept consistently across all marketing and advertising avenues is just asking for a flop. Having an intentional purpose with all actions will reinforce the brand image across the board. Thoroughly research your market and put together a strategic plan before launching. Intentionally do something on a daily basis to build or reinforce your brand. Prioritize your budget limitations. This process can sometimes be too much for small brands to accomplish quickly. Something as seemingly trivial such as setting aside time to update the sign outside your building can go a long way in terms of committing fully to the brand. Make a plan.

 

5.  IMPATIENCE

Wouldn’t life be wonderful if we just instantly knew where we wanted to go with our brand from the get-go? It might take a million tweaks, alterations, or modifications before feeling confident and loving it. It is absolutely crucial to set up a means to measure what success looks like to you at a certain point in time or a specific need for improvement. Is it better to just a pick a lane and go down it rather than not picking one at all?

Branding and marketing take time and money. Let your brand get out and start to resonate with customers. Give it time to grow and don’t kill it too early on – again, Rome wasn’t built in a day (see 2. False Promises).

 

4.  INCONSISTENCY

We’ve discussed focusing on your strengths, but build on your weaknesses, too. Stay up with the times, ahead of your competition and any other potential threats by setting time aside every day to research what is going on in your industry. State your opinions when it comes to issues and trends. How did you feel about Google’s logo change? Your audience actually wants to know! Have a voice behind your brand, while making sure it’s constant and steady. Stay consistent with your logo, colors, and fonts across all marketing efforts. This will help avoid any potential inappropriate logo modifications or skewed branding. The same brand tone, voice, and personality should be clearly heard each time.

 

3.  NOT ADAPTING TO YOUR AUDIENCE AND CHANGING TIMES 

Rarely do “one size fits all” options work for everyone, so marketing approaches should change based on audience needs by employing a full range of marketing communications. Adobe Marketing Cloud recently came out with a video featuring a new social media platform called “Woo Woo” where a marketing agency got wind of this trend and immediately tried to capitalize all of their resources on the new social media. Of course, as soon as they achieve this, the “Woo Woo” users had moved on to the next trend. There are always new apps and technologies popping up now, it’s lucrative for any business to be one step ahead of the curve. Discover hidden marketing (affordable) opportunities plus hit the basics. Be adventurous and curious. Never forget your basic marketing strategies, though. You never know when you will need them.

Beware of adapting to your competitor: We have seen numerous clients copy a competitor’s tactic simply because the competitor is doing it. Who is to say the competitor actually knows what they are doing?

 

2.  OVERBRANDING OVERLOAD 

Have you ever been to a conference when the speaker talks about twenty different topics in a one-hour keynote? It’s almost impossible to retain all of the information being presented. Overwhelming your audience with lots of information decreases the speaker’s perceptions of competence and credibility as a source of authority. Make your messages simple, direct, and clear – not only for your consumers but also internal and external employees. The number one priority is to make it memorable.

While frequency is important, an emphasis should also be quality over quantity. Example: The Cheesecake Factory menu. There are so many choices and words on their “40-page” menu that it might possibly put added pressure on the end-user to make a decision when ordering.  You want to make people curious enough about your brand so they want to learn more, but not misunderstand it at first glance.

 

1.  FOCUSING ONLY ON SHORT-TERM

Burger King and McDonald’s sell almost the same products: burgers, french fries, and good ol’ chicken nuggets. Why has McDonald’s consistently surpassed Burger King in sales and profits? Their branding team starts the emotional attachments to McDonald’s beginning in childhood. It’s brilliant. Nostalgia will far outweigh most anything. If people remember the positive feelings about receiving a McDonald’s happy meal and eating the pure delicious treat with their families as a child, they will be more apt to stay loyal to the brand in the long run to maintain the sentimental association.

Consumers tend to allow the negative press more so than the positive to influence their purchasing decisions. Think about it. Even if a company comes out with a stance on a differing political opinion, their stock with a consumer goes way down.  They will carry that stigma for the rest of their longevity- it takes a lifetime to build up a good reputation and only a second to ruin it.

 

Don’t let these brand pitfalls hold you back.
Visit www.gomindstorm.com/brandpitfalls to learn more of our branding wisdom. We love feedback! 

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What is branding?


Every time I network with someone new, regardless of personal or professional context, I know it’s coming. The inevitable “go-to” question: “So, what do you do?”

“Brand development and management.” [nod and blank stare]

“Do you know what that is?”

“I’m sure I can figure it out.” Someone once thought I wrote IT software (which is incorrect, by the way).

I welcome the opportunity to educate people on what branding is and how important it is to understand their own. Every person and company has a brand whether it’s purposeful or not, so it’s crucial to intentionally create and consistently maintain relevant pillars externally as well as internally.

Ask five different people what branding is and you very well may receive five similar, but varied answers. Some might say branding is a promise (kept & delivered), but we believe branding is all about creating a connection and moment of trust.

Branding is the building of an identity: tone or personality, creating a feeling or emotion, and delivering core values. It’s about methodically and intentionally constructing a memory the consumer will remember after the experience is over.

The end goal of any branding effort is for the end user to interpret the received message consistently with how it was intended by the sender.

We can only control how we project messages, not how audiences will understand them.

Take a moment to think about your initial reaction to each of these brands:

PEPSI vs. COKE
GAP vs. LOUIS VUITTON
DROID vs. iPHONE

They sell very similar products in the same marketplace, but I guarantee you think differently of each brand.

The majority of people have a solid loyalty to either Pepsi or Coke products. Where did this attachment come from? Most likely childhood.

How would a similar (if not identical) shirt be viewed from the Gap versus Louis Vuitton? Preppy and comfortable versus luxurious and expensive?

Again, the majority of people are extremely invested in either Droid or Apple products. Technology-savvy versus simplicity and ease of use?

A common misconception: BRANDING ≠MARKETING. Branding is not the same as marketing.

 


BRANDING

Branding is a long-term relationship. You have to constantly attract your consumers and consistently reinforce positive associations with your brand. The end goal is to generate feelings of emotion or a connection. How does your consumer feel when they think of your brand? Branding is the building and development of the brand personality.

MARKETING
Marketing is like closing the deal; the finished piece that will convince consumers why they need your product. This is where tactical advertising and promotion comes in. Marketing is any outbound brand awareness to increase consumer engagement. Previous branding efforts should have created enough of an attachment with end-users that they are already familiar with your brand in a positive way so the setup of the sale has been as easy as possible.

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Brand Experience

our branding, marketing and creative service experience