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The 7 things you are probably screwing up in your branding

(Marketing) Branding is an exact science, and we all have room for improvement, so what does this expert know that you might not? Read on to find out.

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No one is perfect

Whether you’re the CEO of a sizable brand or a single-person startup, you influence your company’s branding, and the truth is that no one is perfect. You may only be committing two of the seven sins outlined below, but you may be committing them all, so keep reading.

We refuse to regurgitate the same business advice you’ve already read everywhere else, so we’ve tapped the brain of brand builder and keynote speaker, Jeremy Miller, who is the well-known President of Sticky Branding, and he’s insanely good at helping companies stand out.

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Miller didn’t bat an eye at naming the common sins across all industries when it comes to branding, so in his own words below are not only the seven ways you’re probably screwing up, but ways to correct your errors:

1. Selling At All Costs

No one wants to be sold.

No one wants to deal with pushy sales reps and over-the-top marketing campaigns, but that’s what so many brands do. They push, push, push and talk, talk, talk.

Sticky Brands build relationships. They engage their customers upwards of three years before their products and services are needed. That way their customers know, like, and trust them, and they call them first when they have a need.

Take off your sales hat and focus on your customers, build lasting relationships with them.

2. An Out of Date Website

Branding is not an event, it’s a process

An outdated website is a sign of neglect. If you haven’t updated your website design in four years, I have to ask. Why don’t you like your brand? Was it mean to you?

Sticky Brands are constantly polishing and improving their brand collateral. The work is never done.

3. Bland, Boring, and Blue

A third of the top 100 global brands are blue. Brands like P&G, IBM, Facebook, GE, HP, Ford, and Samsung all use blue as the primary brand color.

Blue is a pretty good color. It connotes a company that is trustworthy, established, and secure. It’s the color of big, old, and professional.

As a result, a disproportionate number of small- and mid-sized companies default to using blue in their identities too. They assume blue is a better branding choice because it signals they are like the big, established brands.

That may be true, but blue is average. If everyone else is blue, pick another color. Make your brand visibly different!

4. Being “Good Enough”

We all work with plenty of companies that do a good job. They are efficient, effective, and deliver good value for the price. But good is not enough. Good is average, and average is not worth bragging about.

Find what makes your company unique or special, and bake that into everything you do. Be better than good — be the best in your business, and your brand will be hard to beat.

5. Ignoring your Values and Crashing your Brand

The pressure to perform is intense in companies, and sometimes you may look for a shortcut to hit a short term goal.

But short term gains can create long term pains.

If you ignore your values to achieve a short term goal or to overcome a crisis, you may crash your brand.

Your company’s values are the glue that holds it together. They form the bonds of your culture, attract the right people, and help you serve your clients.

What does your business believe? What are your morals? The more you know and understand your values, the better you can protect your brand.

6. Being too Focused on the Exit Strategy

Steve Jobs said, “I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business.”

Are you building a business to cash out, or are your building a brand? Brand building focuses on building a business that can transition through the generations.

7. Losing sight of what’s most important, your customers

To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s the customer, stupid.” Your customers are the only reason your business exists. The CEO might sign the paychecks, but it’s your customers that make that possible.

As companies scale and grow they risk “losing the plot.” This means thinking something that doesn’t matter one iota to your customers should be important. Or vice-versa.

Sticky Brands are built by putting their customers first. They innovate, challenge the status quo, and win, because they are intensely focused on serving and delighting their customers.

Read more of Millers’ insight in his new book, Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers and Grow an Incredible Brand.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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Business Marketing

Stand out with video as part of your resume (but be careful)

(MARKETING) This new tool helps you stand out in the job market, as video now dominates – so it’s possible to use this to your advantage (with caution).

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In the midst of a pandemic, people are finding themselves thrust back into the job market sooner than expected due to mass company layoffs or underemployment as a freelancer. Fields are oversaturated and jobs are sparse so it can be hard to stand out in today’s job market.

Although standing out in the job market is hardly a new problem, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t use some new and creative solutions. One company, VCV.ME has designed a tool to help you get creative and stand out from your competition.

VCV.ME turns your traditional resume into a video à la Instagram stories.

The process is simple. You answer a few questions and upload a video of yourself then the tool will provide you with a sharable link.

VCV Founder and CEO, Arik Akverdian, believes that video is the future saying, “Video will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2021 according to Cisco, and according to eMarketer 94.1% of millennial internet users were streaming digital video in 2019. With growing demand for video social media such as TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram stories, and others, we’re bringing the short video format to the job market.”

There are some obvious limitations to using this tool in your job hunt.

First, not all employers will take videos as part of an application both for technical and legal reasons.

On the technical side, many automated tracking systems are not designed to filter that kind of file, so there may not even be an opportunity to showcase it. That’s not to say there aren’t some work-arounds. Many job applications will have a place for applicants to link to their portfolio or websites. An alternate option for this tool could be to place the video introduction on your website.

Another problem with the tool is how it exposes candidates and hiring managers to bias.

As more companies work to remove bias from their hiring practices and hire more diverse candidates, a video intro just won’t fly. Some companies have removed names and even alma maters from their applicants in order to make more unbiased hiring decisions. A video introduction would expose many characteristics that people have conscious and subconscious biases towards such as race, gender, age, and ethnicity.

Although VCV.ME’s intentions are to help candidates stand out in the job market, it’s worth questioning whether they would be standing out for the right reasons, so tread carefully.

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Business Marketing

Why should you take Facebook’s ‘Summer of Support’ courses

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Every company can use a little marketing advice, well Facebook has partnered with big companies to give you some free digital marketing courses.

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Our world has turned into a place of upheaval and unrest and we are continuously surrounded by more and more evidence of it. One thing that the majority of us are constantly seeing is announcements from companies. Some of those are about closing hours, but others are more helpful. As they all attempt to get used to this new world that COVID-19 has created we begin to see some different tactics. Some are only politically motivated, but others are more focused on helping out their communities.

Earlier this week Facebook announced that they will be putting on a six-week digital marketing education series. This series will be an extensive collection of videos with a full in depth set of courses that will cover a large amount of topics. The company has put together a cast of renowned entrepreneurs for the presenters as well.

The topics will be done in themed weeks starting on June 24th, and running through the month of July. They include categories such “The Changing World” & “Resilience”. Focusing primarily on the world that is here and now, with recommendations on how to adapt to it. With this world in a constant state of flux the push for adapting to change and staying in front of the tide is crucial for a small business.

The next two courses will be going forward with discussing “Reinvention” & “Re-Emergence”. Encouraging struggling companies to take a serious look at their potential for moving forward, or changing the things that they can to stay more on top of their client base. They also plan on attacking the confusing world that we will have when things get closer to normal.

The last two weeks are focused on community and customer care, which is actually their names as well: “Customers & Commerce” & “Community”. These will help develop a sense of how your business affects your community and the impact you have on it. Keeping that in mind you can then develop a plan for how you want your community to see you and shape things within it.

These courses are all set up for free and open to anyone. With a completely online set up with their new “Summer of Support” mini-site they are prepped to reach millions of people. They’ve organized this with a range of partners as well: Dell, PayPal, American Express, & Small Business Roundtable. A helping hand for people who wouldn’t currently be able to source things like this.

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