Category Archives: Backlinks

Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create Great Landing Pages

You don’t see great landing pages often. That’s not because they can’t be made, but because it’s extremely difficult to create them well. There are design rules to follow that keep people from leaving. There are tricks to use to get your button noticed. There are words that have a way of persuasively whispering in your prospects’ ears: push the button, claim the offer.

Most people don’t know what any of these things are, though. The average landing page converts somewhere between 2 and 5 out of every 100 visitors. That means there’s a lot of not-so-great landing pages out there.

Before you set out to create a great landing page it’s important to know what your prospects want. Specifically, it changes from business to business—some want a solution for their bad back, while others want an easier accounting software—but at the core, it’s this one thing:

They want to evaluate your offer as quickly as possible.

They’re not on your page to browse or pleasure read. They want to find out if what you’ve got is what they need. Do you have what they need?

In this blog, I’ll cover how to create the best landing pages for your business, from top to bottom. 

Non-Existent Navigation

One of the reasons landing pages are highly persuasive is because of their ability to keep visitors focused. If they cannot focus on your message, prospects will not be able to determine whether your offer can meet their needs. Focus starts with no navigation, like this page from Neat:

On your website, a navigation menu can be helpful for browsing visitors who want to find out more about your business. But on your landing page, where visitors are trying to learn more about a singular offer, they shouldn’t need to browse. You should have all the information they need to make a decision right there on your landing page.

Attention Grabbing Headlines

You have to earn attention from your prospect with a headline that grabs them, quickly conveys your offer’s unique value proposition, and guides them toward the rest of your content. Here are a few tips to help you win:

  • Use the word “you” to speak directly to the reader.
  • Clarify your unique selling proposition with a benefit. What is the biggest thing your prospect will gain by converting? “How to” can be a great way to start a headline.
  • Make sure there’s message match between your headline and source. If your source is a Google AdWords ad with the headline “Make email marketing easier,” then the headline of your landing page should read “Make email marketing easier.” It boosts trust by letting your visitor know they’re in the right place.

Here’s a great example from ConversionXL:

Skimmable Copy

Remember—nobody is here to browse or pleasure read. That means your argument for why a visitor should claim your offer needs to be conveyed as quickly and as persuasively as possible.

The way to do that is:

  • Focus on benefits, not features. Your super-powerful processor means nothing to your visitor until you tell them that it transfers data faster than anything on the market.
  • Use colors and typeface that people can read. That means a dark color (go for black) on a light background (white is safest). When picking a typeface, stick to no more than two different types. Serifs and sans serif typefaces are usable for headlines, but for body copy, stick to just sans serif. It’s easier to read at a smaller size.
  • Break up chunks of text. The scariest thing to a busy prospect is a giant block of text. If you have any, they won’t get read. To ensure your copy gets read, use bullets and subheads to break up those blocks.

Here’s a great example of skimmable, benefit-oriented copy from Bolste:

Useful Media

Great landing pages don’t feature pointless stock photos. Some may include stock photos, but those photos are never pointless. Any photo or video you put on your landing page should help the visitor evaluate your offer, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t belong there. Here are a few examples of media you might want to use to help your visitor evaluate an offer:

  • An edited stock photo showing your user interface
  • An introductory video that proves you are a credible source of information
  • An explainer video that shows how your product or service solves a problem
  • Images that show the different angles and features of your product
  • A hero image that helps visitors imagine what their lives could be like after claiming your offer

Here’s a great example of a stock photo that has been edited to fit the company’s needs. It shows visitors how the user interface looks, from the Bolste page above:

Bolste Example

Frictionless Form

The form is where conversion happens. It’s the make-or-break element that can either get your visitor’s name in your CRM or scare them into fleeing your page.

Here’s how to get more prospects into your CRM:

  • Make sure your form only asks for the bare minimum that you need to qualify a prospect. You might like to know how many people work at their company, but if you don’t need to know, then you shouldn’t ask. To your prospect, every additional form field is another reason to leave your page.
  • Differentiate required fields from optional ones. On an ideal form, you’d have only required fields, but if you really want to A/B test to see if you can get a little extra information from a generous prospect, make sure they at least know they don’t have to give it to you if they don’t want to.
  • Put labels close to the fields they correspond to. If the “name” label is placed in between the “email” and “name” field, then your visitor might mistake one field for the other.
  • Do not use placeholder text. If your form has any directions (like “your password must be 5+ characters in length and contain one special character) then they should be written above the field, next to the label. Disappearing labels in form fields can confuse your prospects when they start writing and those labels vanish.
  • Ensure that error messages are highly visible and clear. If your prospect forgets a special character in that password, your error message should outline the field they made a mistake on, and tell them how they made a mistake (for example: “must contain one special character”).

Here’s an example from a short, friction-free form from eSpatial:

eSpatial Example

Compelling Call-To-Action Button

You won’t see the word “Submit” or “Download” on any great landing page. That’s because those words do not get the prospect excited to claim the offer. “Submit” sounds like work and so does “Download.” So, how do you write better ones?

  • Make your call-to-action benefit-oriented. Everything else on your page focuses on the benefit of claiming the offer, so it makes sense that yours should too.
  • Make your button stand out. If it doesn’t contrast the rest of your page, it won’t be seen. Pick colors that are complementary on the color wheel to create the most attention-grabbing effect, like a yellow button on a blue background.
  • Make your button look like a button. People are used to seeing buttons all over the internet. They don’t look like stars or circles or octagons — they are mostly rectangular. That means, to be recognizable, yours should be too.

Here’s a great example of a button change that yielded big results: When IMPACT Branding & Design changed their button copy from “Download”:

Impact Example 1

 

to “Show me how to attract more customers,” and conversions skyrocketed by nearly 80%!

Impact Example 2

 

Social Proof

A great landing page isn’t filled with braggadocious copy that says things like, “we’re the best solution on the market!” It uses a technique to convey that message with more subtlety because nobody believes the business that says “We’re the best!” Of course, you think you’re the best! You work for the company and you want your prospects’ business. Who they will believe is someone who has nothing to gain from saying, “This product or service can’t be beaten.”

That’s why the subtle technique that great landing pages employ is social proof. Social proof is the reason you think a Twitter account is worth following because it has a lot of followers already. It’s the reason you think a product is better because a stranger said so.

Here’s how to use it to create a great landing page:

  • Display counters of people who have claimed your offer.
  • Showcase high-profile places your brand has been featured.
  • Include badges of trusted clients or customers you’ve serviced.
  • Feature detailed testimonials from happy customers with their headshot.

Here’s a great example of social proof from Qlik:

Qlik Example

Making a great landing page doesn’t have to be hard! It just takes a little extra reading and some creativity. Check out these 100 landing page examples, then start converting prospects with less work.

I’d love to hear about how you’ve incorporated these tips into creating great landing pages for your business. Tell me about your experiences in the comments.

Marketing National Roadshow Promo

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Marketo Marketing Blog

A Quick-Start Guide to Video Content: Become Confident on Camera in 5 Steps

Videos are everywhere. They’re on your Facebook feed, your Instagram wall, and they also come up in search engine results. As a former TV journalist, I know that video is a powerful way to reach people — and being on camera regularly solidifies your connection with your audience. I had the pleasure (sarcasm intended) of
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3 Insights on the Impact and Future of Business, Marketing, and Sales Operations

Operations that you may never be aware of are occurring constantly across your organization through various processes and details. As a marketer, you’re likely most familiar with marketing operations, and hopefully, sales operations because of your partnership with sales, but then maybe less familiar with business operations. But when it comes down to it, operations and the people that power those functions are absolutely critical to the work you do and the smooth functioning of your business.

In a recent infographic, InsightSquared partnered with LinkedIn’s Content and Research teams to examine the basic characteristics of three critical operations roles—marketing operations, business operations, and sales operations. This blog will take a look at a few of the key findings and define some of the similarities and differences between the roles.

Operations 101

Marketing Operations

Regardless of whether you’re a marketer that leans more heavily on the art or the science of marketing, you need marketing operations (MOPS). A solid MOPS team is a critical resource to any marketing team and the broader organization. They operate at both a strategic and tactical level—working on key business initiatives down to day to day marketing activities. Some of their critical functions include managing the data and its flow in and out of your MarTech stack, acting as a liaison with other teams like sales, product, and engineering, and creating and enforcing guidelines for your marketing technology processes for team members.

Business Operations

Like marketing operations, business operations (BizOps) is critical to strategic and tactical functions of a business. There are tons of recurring activities that take place to help a business run efficiently and effectively and allow its leaders to make informed, thoughtful decisions spanning departments and processes. BizOps often sits at the center of those activities and helps by synthesizing data across the business into clear, and actionable insights. According to LinkedIn, this can mean coordinating complex sales and marketing strategies and evaluating the impact of those strategies on the bottom line. But, business operations do not stop there, as it often evaluates the success of programs against a long-term strategy, helps ensure transparency between departments, and report on top-line initiatives.

Sales Operations

Sales operations, like business operations and marketing operations, is a critical function to any business that sells something, especially if they have a sales team. Simply stated, sales and its processes are very measurable and tied directly to company revenue. With that in mind, and according to HBR, sales operations (SOPs) at most organizations is on deck to oversee sales performance—from territory alignment, customer profiling, to targeting activities, administer to the compensation plan and goal planning for the sales team, manage their CRM system and processes (and therefore work VERY closely with their MOPs counterparts), and provide data, analysis, modeling, and reporting for business review.

Key Findings

So, now with our understanding of how foundational our different operations groups are within our businesses, let’s take a look at some of the key findings of what it takes to be and hire operations professionals from InsightSquared and LinkedIn as they looked across thousands of data points.

Enterprises Invest More Heavily in Operations

There are more operations professionals at enterprise organizations, specifically very large enterprises than there are at their small to medium business counterparts. When I saw this stat, specifically the fact that the heaviest investment was in business operations versus marketing or sales, it made sense to me because larger organizations tend to have more disparate data and processes that need to be evaluated and understood in order to see the big picture. It was also interesting to look at the data and see that organizations in the 1001-5000 employee band seem to invest predominantly in sales operations while the next band, 5001-10,000 employees, invests more heavily in marketing operations. This may be indicative of the goals or challenges that organizations at these sizes face at this specific stages of growth.

 

There’s Not a Standard Certification

Now that you’re thoroughly convinced that operations are not only foundational to your success but probably a huge time-saver and resource you’re probably wondering, “How can I hire an A+ Operations person?”. Well, if you’re looking to hire an operations professional there are a variety of skills you can look for, but a standardized certification across business, marketing, and sales operations simply doesn’t exist. The data shows that while there are some certifications, a relatively low percentage of operations professionals get them and those that do seem to get them for their specific area of operations—for example, being a Marketo Certified Expert and working in Marketing Operations.

Industries are Investing in Operations at Different Rates 

Operations—business, marketing, and sales—seems like a fairly critical function for any business, but the data shows that some sectors are adopting and hiring operations professionals at faster rates than others, and it varies based on the type of operations professional you’re looking to add to your team. You’re probably not surprised to see Technology & Software sectors lead the charge on business operations and marketing operations, but you may have been surprised, like me, to see that they don’t when it comes to hiring sales operations professionals. In fact, Retail & Consumer Products leads the way for sales operations hiring. More interesting, the same industries don’t appear for each type of operations, indicating that they may have some ground to cover from both a data and insights and the people-hiring perspective if they want to achieve at their peak levels.

The last finding? There is a definite demand for operations professionals. With over 60,000 open roles on LinkedIn, it seems the time is ripe for someone looking to work in this field. And if you think about how much data marketers, sales teams and businesses sift through on a day to day basis, hiring people to help them digest, and interpret that data to make intelligent and informed decisions makes sense.

Interested in learning more about the data? Check out the full infographic here, or the original blog from its creators.

Did any of these results surprise you? Or, how do you see and understand the role of operations at your organization either similarly or differently? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Marketo Marketing Blog

Tips for Email Success in the Engagement Economy

There’s no doubt that email is critical for B2B marketing—in fact, it’s often rated the top channel in industry surveys.

But when it comes to the Engagement Economy, the B2B email playbook is woefully behind. Email is primarily a 1-way channel for outbound marketing, rather than a 2-way channel for engagement marketing. Most companies don’t encourage engagement in an email, and many companies downright prevent engagement (e.g., sending the email from a “no reply”)!

For comparison, consider the way you ask for 2-way interactions on other channels:

  • When you blog, you ask for comments.
  • When you post on social media, you ask for replies.
  • When you run a webinar, you encourage real-time questions.
  • When visitors come to your website, you ask them to talk via live chat.

In all these channels, you open the door to engagement by asking buyers to engage. So why do very few B2B email programs encourage customers to respond, give feedback, and start a conversation? The answer: “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

So how do you start to transition from a 1-way email sending program to a 2-way email engagement program?

Luckily that change doesn’t require a complete overhaul. You already have an excellent database, tons of intelligence on your leads and customers, and you already know how to tailor and target messages for your audience. Now you just need to go from being a great sender of email to also being a great receiver of email.

In this blog, I’ll give you three email marketing tactics to help you make your email marketing successful into the Engagement Economy.

1.) Ask for Replies

When you write a personal email to engage a colleague or friend, you ask them to respond. Sales people do this as well in their 1-to-1 outreach. So why should a marketing email be any different? Can you formulate your CTA in a question and directly elicit a reply? If a customer or prospect wants to engage with you, isn’t clicking the reply button in their email client the easiest possible buyer experience?

This tactic presents some challenges in routing those responses to the right person and tracking responses for campaign analytics and reporting. But, if enabling engagement makes your buyer experience better, these are problems worth solving. There are a variety of tools, like Siftrock, that can help you manage and measure email replies at scale across diverse programs.

It doesn’t mean that 100% of your emails should have “reply” as the CTA, but this can be a great tactic to drive engagement at certain times in the buyer’s journey. As a bonus when people do reply, you’ll also be boosting your deliverability—receiving mail servers love engagement, just like buyers.

2.) Humanize Your Formatting

If I’m asking a question, I want you to engage. I don’t need a lot of heavy formatting, graphics, or large CTA buttons. In this area, marketing can borrow a page from the outbound sales playbook and make emails more straightforward and conversational. Emails that feel like a human speaking to another human, instead of marketer-to-target, will drive more engagement.

Here’s a great example from Uberflip:

Uberflip Email Marketing Example

It feels like the business wants to engage with me. There’s not much formatting and no crazy CTA buttons. It just reads like a message from one human to another.

3.)  Humanize The “From” Address

We already know that sending from a “no-reply” alias is bad for deliverability and sends a bad message to customers. Fortunately, that practice is mostly dead in B2B.

Sending from a general marketing@ or newsletters@ alias is better, but even if it’s monitored, it’s not likely the most inviting setup for a response. When the from address is human, people are much more inclined to respond naturally. Take for instance this email for the Marketo Summit VIP event. It’s sent from Kevin Lau, a real person. It includes his email signature, and as the reader, I feel like I have the option to reply with questions or to engage.

Marketo Example of Email Marketing

Sending from a single person’s real alias is not always feasible at scale. But, there are other options to humanize your from address:

  • Send on behalf of reps/account owners.
  • Send from a “spokesperson” alias that is managed by a team.
  • Send from an alternate alias for a CXO that is operated by a team.
  • Send from program owner (e.g., webinar emails come from the webinar manager).

Choosing the right format depends on both what will be ideal for the buyer experience and what your organization can reasonably manage.

Wrap Up

Transitioning email into a channel for engagement marketing will create a better customer experience and drive better results for marketers. B2B marketers who don’t make this change will likely find customers tuning out of opting out at higher rates. As Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas points out, marketers “need to ‘engage with’ and not ‘market to’ their buyers” in the Engagement Economy. Email is no exception.

The transition requires slight mindset shift to go from thinking about email as a 1-way channel to a 2-way channel. But luckily this doesn’t take a massive overhaul of your tech or systems, just a handful of simple tactics can start to move the needle.
How are you adjusting your email programs for the engagement economy? What strategies and tactics are working best for your business?

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Marketo Marketing Blog

Simple Tips for a Productive Short Week

How was your long weekend? Or, if you don’t live in the States, how was it watching all your U.S. pals enjoy the long weekend? This was Labor Day week in the U.S., which means about half of my compatriots are running around this morning thinking it’s Wednesday, the other half think it’s Friday already,
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Three Ways to Measure Success in the Engagement Economy

Metrics, metrics everywhere, and still no way to know how you’re doing.

That might be an exaggeration, but it’s certainly the way it can feel sometimes, especially in an era where interactions, data, and real-time customer feedback are at an all-time high.

I recently attended an interview our Global Vice President of Product Marketing, Matt Zilli, did with theCUBE, on how to address success in the Engagement Economy.

In this blog, you’ll find three key tips that can help you examine your approach to engagement from Matt Zilli. 

Engagement Is the Currency Companies Need to Thrive

In a sea of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, one unit of exchange stands out above the rest: engagement.

Anyone can send out a message to the masses, and it used to be that quantity was all you needed to make a mark. But today, with the sheer volume of digital marketing chatter out there, it’s true engagement that will make the difference. An organization can send out a million emails knowing that 100,000 people will open them and a smaller subset will even click on the content, but without a relevant narrative, the interaction is not sustainable.

As Matt put it, “We can go blast a message out all over the world, and just hope that one small percentage point of those folks will actually engage with us, and that’s just not going to work anymore. The real key movement forward is how the companies really deeply engage with their audience, with their customers, with their potential customers.”

AI to the Rescue

The good news: marketers are aware of how much data they have and are starting to use more of it than ever before to inform their marketing. The bad news? Data is still sitting silos within organizations. Siloed data means that marketers are still not getting one complete picture of their customer and still not letting them personalize their outreach for the best thing for each individual customer.

But there’s hope! And that hope is artificial intelligence. Matt says, “Over the next few years, a combination of AI technologies will do a lot of the heavy lifting, of looking at the data and gleaning insights from it and getting them to a marketer or somebody else driving customer experience so they naturally use it to do something informed for a specific customer.”

They Like Me, They Like Me Not

In the Engagement Economy, how do marketers know if they’re truly doing a good job? We’ve spoken previously about alignment metrics and the impact of customer advocacy, both of which point back to something critical: customer sentiment. It’s imperative that organizations find ways to get a real pulse on how both their current and potential customers feel about their brand. Luckily, there’s no shortage of options for how brands can acquire that feedback today, from market research to do-it-yourself surveys to simply getting out in the field and having conversations.

To quote Matt, “You have to seek the answers to find out how good of a job you’re doing versus looking at the efforts you’re putting in place. It can be a challenge for a lot of companies to get out there and try to gain an objective understanding.”

There will likely be surprises, but these surprises or gaps in perception present opportunities for brands to address and move the needle.

Want to Learn More?

Here’s the full video, and be sure to come back for more insights from the next video in our Engagement Economy video series with theCUBE. After you watch, I’d love to hear about what else you learned. Be sure to tell me in the comments!

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Marketo Marketing Blog

Happy Labor Day!

Today is Labor Day in the U.S., a time to celebrate the potency and dignity of work — and the regenerating power of a little time off. The Copyblogger team will be back starting tomorrow with lots more content for you … including your September Creativity and Productivity prompts later this week. Have a wonderful
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The 10 Pillars of Successful Branding

Ask a new business owner to tell you about their brand strategy and most will stop at their logo, which means they have none. Small business owners consistently overlook the importance of branding and do so at their peril. This problem even persists across large organizations where the understanding and use of a strong brand can get diluted, distorted or miscommunicated. Understanding the role branding plays in your business, the strategies behind it, and the pillars of successful branding will vastly increase your chance of success.

In this blog, you’ll find the 10 pillars of successful branding that marketers can use to establish or re-evaluate their brand.

1. Purpose

Your brand purpose is the meaningful reason behind why your brand exists. To extract your purpose, you need to look at who you serve. Your business solves a problem for someone. Whether that problem is hunger, thirst, a flat tire, the need to get from A to B, or a lack of experience in a particular field, you provide a solution to a problem your ideal customer needs or wants, to solve.

Once your solution fills that void, there is a sense of satisfaction from your audience that evokes an emotion. Even an accountant filing tax returns provides satisfaction. They relieve their clients from the stress of tax responsibility for a year. Identifying the emotion that your client will feel on the back of your solution unlocks the meaningful purpose. Tapping into the impact that may have on their lives (even if just for a fleeting moment) and your brand purpose becomes not about how much profit your business can turn but how many people it can impact.

Take, for example, TOM’s, a primarily online shoe company. They have an online store, you pay with your card, and your new shoes are delivered to your door. Simple. What makes TOM’s different from other shoe companies is their brand purpose. The meaningful reason behind why they exist is to improve lives. For every pair of shoes you buy, TOM’s will help a person in need. Not only does that make the customer feel good about handing over their money, but also every individual working for TOM’s will feel they make a difference in the work they do.

2. Vision

Your vision is where you plan your business to be in the future. Thinking about where you want your company to be is a vital part of brand creation. It is about projecting your brand into the future and painting a picture of your future brand. We tend to do more for others that we do for ourselves. When you go back to the brand purpose and realize that your brand is about impacting other people’s lives, you can be a little more ambitious about the future.

Where do you want to be in 10 years and what does that future brand look like? How large is your expansion plan? Will you be expanding your product offerings? What does success look like for your company? These are all vital questions to ask yourself when building your brand. Your vision should be big enough to inspire but not too big for people (within the brand) to buy into it.

Microsoft’s vision was to put “A computer on every desktop in every home”. This vision was big enough to inspire a movement without being too big for the leadership team to buy into it.

3. Mission

Your mission is a statement of intent that encompasses both your company’s purpose and vision. It is a commitment to impact the lives of the people you serve and deliver on what you promise while you are on the path to your future brand. It shifts the paradigm of the vision and mission from what you want to achieve to what you want to give. In living your purpose, your mission becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Brands on a committed mission aligned with their purpose and vision set the tone for a strong working culture. Those who come to work every day and feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves have meaning in the work that they do, which instills happiness. Brands boasting happy people radiate this through their interactions and become known as much for their attitude as the solution they offer.

Starbucks mission statement optimises a commitment that is filtered through purpose with a dash of vision: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

4. Values

Brand values are the rules of engagement and the moral compass for the way you do business. If your mission sets in place your overarching commitment in achieving your vision for the future, then your values are the behavioral commitments in your day-to-day activities.

Like all elements of branding, they are internal first and foremost. It goes without saying that your values should be aligned with your purpose, vision, and mission, but communication is key. Communicating core values often internally ensures that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and that there is a collective underlying message in every interaction.

People that know us, know what our core values are not because we tell them but because of our actions and behaviors over time. The same is true with brands. It is common practice today to list your core values on a dedicated page of your website, but without the actions to go along with the words they are little more than marketing.

Zappos, an online retailer, demonstrates the possibilities of a brand that lives its core values in the way it behaves. From the way they deal with customers to how they hire talent, all decisions and actions are filtered through their values.

Here are the core values that Zappos lives by:

  • Deliver WOW Through Service
  • Embrace and Drive Change
  • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  • Pursue Growth and Learning
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  • Do More With Less
  • Be Passionate and Determined
  • Be Humble

How does this impact how their audience sees them? By delivering on these core values they inspire customers, and advocates for life—see for yourself.

5. Position

The position your brand takes in the market comes down to your audience, competition, and differentiators. When you know the finer detail of who your audience is, what they like or dislike, their behavior is of the utmost importance. When you understand what their problems are, then you can begin to understand the best way to appeal to them.

Your competition is likely already serving your intended audience so understanding their appeal, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, allows you to uncover opportunities. Differentiators are why your audience will remember you. What is it that makes you different from your competition? Why should your audience choose you? Even if on paper, your competition is towering over you in term of capabilities, you can always find something that sets you apart and makes you memorable.

When Avis was entering the car rental market dominated by Hertz, they positioned themselves creatively with their tagline, “We’re only no.2, but we try harder.” In doing so, they established themselves in the market and took market share from the competition.

brand pillar- avis

6. Personality

Brand personality should be a reflection of who your audience is and what appeals to them, along with the position you want to take in the market. Your audience wants to see themselves, or the best version of themselves, in your brand so when a brand portrays the personality of their audiences’ aspirations, they resonate on a powerful level.

Take Mercedes as an example. The luxury car company’s personality communicates confidence, sophistication, and exclusivity, which appeal to the aspirations of their audience. Likewise, Red Bull has aligned themselves with extreme sports and project an energetic, youthful, and adventurous personality which appeals their audience’s aspirations.

7. Tone of Voice & Language

Tone and language choices are an extension of your personality and should also reflect your audience. Both have always been important but in today’s content driven era, its importance has been magnified. As people, we might use a different tone of voice and language set with different people, for example, your grandma vs. your best friend. If you reversed your communication and spoke to you grandmother as you would your best friend, chances are, your tone wouldn’t resonate with her. If, as a brand, you want to appeal to 18-24-year-old male skateboarders, the formality, and energy of the language that you use will be different than if your audience is 35-50-year-old female foodies.

When it comes to resonance, we must always trace it back to the source of who we want to resonate with and ask, “What do they want”?

Try to nail down your language and tone of voice, not with rigid rules but with flexible guides. Mozilla uses this strategy and within their guides, you’ll find applicable examples such as; “It’s okay to be clever, but not just for its own sake (or because we’re too in love with our own words).”

Your brand still needs to be authentic so give your personnel the autonomy to be human while directing them with flexible guides.

8. Core Message

Now that you know your audience, position, and personality of your brand, you have the information needed to craft an effective core message the cornerstone of which is your differentiator. In the mind of your audience, you get to be one thing. That one thing is your differentiator and your core message needs to be built around that.

Your core message is underlying and should be incorporated into all forms of communication. You can craft a concise and memorable tagline from this but the core message itself can be up to two sentences.

It should be short enough for internal personnel to memorize, but long enough to be impactful. It can be expressed in many different forms but should always drive home what you want your audience to remember you for.

Geico’s core message is succinct and to the point. It includes who it’s for, what the differentiator is and the benefit to the audience. “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.”

This double’s down as a tagline with how concise it is but it can be applied and adapted throughout all communication with the underlying message: “we save you time and money when it comes to your car insurance”.

9. Brand Identity System

Your brand identity system is a collection of visual elements that work together to form the look and feel of your brand. A logo on its own has very little impact as it is a single visual representation and cannot provide a look and feel for the brand on its own.

The role of the visual identity is to trigger brand recall and a visual identity with numerous distinct visual elements working as a team to create a look and feel has a much greater chance of making that visual connection and triggering that memory.

A brand identity system includes:

  • Primary Logo
  • Secondary Logo
  • Lockup Variations
  • Colour Palette
  • Typography
  • Image Style
  • Graphics Library
  • Brand Style Guide

Take a look at the brand identity system from Tom Kerridge. It boasts a logo, color palette, image style, packaging, typography, all working together to create a unique and memorable style.

Tom Kerridge

10. Brand Expression

As the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. In essence, your brand is your reputation and therefore any interaction with your audience, or brand expression is a building block of your brand.

Whether visually, audibly, or experientially, your brand needs consistency is its expression. Any instances of expression that are off-brand, whether a behavior that is not aligned with values, decisions that are not aligned with the vision or visual expressions that don’t follow brand guidelines, your brand is being damaged.

The key to brand expression is alignment. Every pillar mentioned above needs to be aligned with the one before it so there is a consistent message across every touch point.

The best example of consistency is the king of modern branding, Apple. Since Steve Jobs came back into the fold in 1997, Apple changed its trajectory. Everything was simplified. The purpose, vision, mission, values, personality, language, the tone of voice, core message, brand identity and expression. We all know who they are, we all know what they stand for and whether you are part of the cult following or not, you can’t help be in awe of their brand.

It’s safe to assume that most entrepreneurs start their business in the hope that it will be successful. There are very few who position themselves well enough to give that business the best chance for survival, establishment, and then success. Building a brand from the inside-out that has substance, meaning, values, personality, and visual appeal gives a business a starting point, a future brand, and a vehicle to get there.

I’d love to hear how you’re incorporating these 10 pillars into your own branding. Tell me about it in the comments!

 

The post The 10 Pillars of Successful Branding appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.


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