Building A Company For Your Brand

A successful brand influences the way people perceive a company’s name, history, logo, and marketing campaigns. 

A strong brand not only makes customers pay attention but also enables your company to charge a premium over competitors, build customer loyalty, boost sales and accelerate product differentiation in the market. The concept of a brand extends beyond your company logo to your core values and any interaction with customers and suppliers. Your brand is the identity and personality of your company and the promise to your customers

In this guide, we guide you through everything you need to know about developing a brand identity for your small business. Creating a brand is more than just a catchy name – it’s about creating the entire identity of your business and the products and services that it sells. Whether you have a business idea or want to turn away from your current brand, here is what you need to know about building a strong brand identity for your company. 

A solid branding process can transform your business from a small player to a successful competitor. Building your brand strategy is a masterclass that changes the way you look at your business and will give you more clarity and confidence that your brand exists and that it serves people. As with every other aspect of establishing a company, the first step is complete market research to create a brand identity.

Before you begin selling products or services you must build your brand and find an entourage of people willing to jump when you open your doors to business. As you move through the tactical steps of your branding strategy and design your logo, you must also take the time to make clear who you are as a company – in other words, your brand identity. Like a methodist who lives and breathes his character, a company must live and breathe its brand if it wants to convince its customers.

Branding is the process of building a brand – whether it’s designing a logo, researching the name, working on attributes, or working in a focus group – business is part of the business that you build. Your brand is an integral part of your brand identity, defined by the name and type of products manufactured by a particular company. To be successful, you want to build your email marketing and contact lists A around a logo. Creating a logo helps people identify with your brand by consistently using it across your entire platform.

Your logo is the face of your business, it is the first thing that most customers see when they encounter your brand and it is a visual advantage that keeps your business together. Your website is the most important marketing tool you will have for business growth and branding. Your online business identity can be found on a variety of design services for brand identity, marketing, advertising, and design. Business is not just a mission, it drives your mission and value by sharing your brand history and telling customers how the business started. 

Whether you hire a brand consultant or work in-house, it’s one thing to spend time, energy, and resources needed to build a brand, it’s another to understand what customers think about your company’s brand. Learning what your audience wants from a company in your industry is crucial to creating a brand that people love. This is a common way of thinking among small business owners who focus too much on marketing and sales and forget that their business is a company with a brand.

 As a result, identifying the ideal target audience for your business will support your overall digital branding strategy. Your core messages should include unique aspects of your business, added value customers, and the personality of your brands. Your Points of Difference (POD) make you special, they make customers choose your business over your competitors, and they should be included as part of your branding strategy.

By developing a strong brand voice and carrying it through your content, you strengthen who you are and what you do for your customers, strengthen relationships and help drive the business forward. Today you have the opportunity to build your brand and make your company credible, trustworthy, and accessible to your customers and prospects – whether in your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, online videos, pictures, articles, and white papers.

In this masterclass Building Your Brand Strategy, learn our proven 5-step process to build a strong foundation and position your business for what it stands for. Simply put, building the tactics, brand awareness, marketing, engagement, community-building strategies, and consistent implementation that give both new and existing companies a boost is necessary for successful branding in the digital age. 

They recognize the connection between successful companies and strong branding and strive to build a brand that is as successful as theirs. Mascot logos can humanize your business and create a brand personality, but be aware that they can be of old-fashioned style and are recommended only in certain contexts, especially if you prefer a retro look. This provides you with variety, as you can create a unique design for your business while remaining true to the brand identity. 

Source: Building A Company For Your Brand

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Braze Begins The IPO Process Amid Pandemic-Era Growth In Digital Marketing

A decade after its founding, the marketing tech startup Braze is beginning the process of becoming a publicly traded company.

Today, the New York-based company filed its Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol “BRZE.” Braze is part of the growing industry of marketing campaign management software companies, a market sector that the research group IDC says could reach $15 billion in 2021 and $19.4 billion in 2024.

The customer engagement company provides technology for brands to interact directly with consumers through various channels. By using Braze’s platform, companies can use data from email, apps and other digital platforms to better understand their customers before targeting them with personalized messages. Well known brands that use Braze for their marketing include Burger King, Anthropologie, Birchbox, Grubhub, IBM, Hinge, Nascar, PayPal, HBO, iHeartRadio, Sephora and Rosetta Stone.

According to its SEC filing, Braze reported large revenue growth in the past two years with $150.2 million in fiscal-year 2021 and $96.4 million in 2020. While the company has experienced momentum in 2020 and 2021, it’s still not profitable: Net losses totaled $31.43 million in 2021 and $31.36 million in 2020. Braze also reported annual recurring revenue passing $200 million in 2021, up from $100 million in 2019.

When Braze was cofounded in 2011 by CEO Bill Magnuson, Jon Hyman and Mark Ghermezian, it wanted to build a business that was mobile-first to help companies adapt to changing consumer behaviors. At the time of publication, the company was unavailable for comment about its IPO plans, but in a letter included in the S-1 Magnuson wrote that the “goal was to build a company that would capitalize on new technology to help the world’s best companies grow by trusting us with their most valuable asset: their customer relationships.”

“While technological change drove us forward, we knew that humanity should always guide us,” Magnuson wrote. “Great human relationships are built on mutual understanding, engaging communication and shared experience. It’s thus no surprise that the secret weapon of exceptional, enduring companies is the quality of their customer engagement.”

In the past two years, Braze has continued to grow its customer base from 728 in January 2020 to 890 January 2021 and 1,119 as of July 2021. The company has also continued to scale its cloud-based platform and now reaches 3.3 billion monthly active users through its customers’ applications, websites and other digital platforms—up from 2.3 billion in January 2020 and from 1.6 billion in January 2019.

Issues around privacy are also something Braze listed as a risk factor, citing international, federal and state regulations including newly passed legislation in California, Virginia and Colorado and existing laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Several pages of the S-1 detail many of the laws and provide a glimpse into the various ways rules around data privacy could impact the company both legally and financially.“The laws are not consistent, and compliance in the event of a widespread data breach could be costly,” according to the SEC filing. “In addition, while we contractually limit the types of data our customers may process and store using our platform, we cannot fully control the actions of our customers. The failure of customers to comply with their contractual obligations may subject us to liability, and we may not have sufficient recourse to cover our related liabilities.”

Braze’s S-1 filing comes just a day after the advertising technology company Basis Globally Technologies—formerly known as Centro—confidentially filed its own S-1 with the SEC, further adding to the string of ad-tech and mar-tech IPOs that have taken place this year. Companies that have either gone public or begun the IPO process in 2021 include the content recommendation company Taboola, ad measurement firms DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science and other marketing tech companies such as Zeta Global and Sprinklr.

Over the past decade, Braze has raised $175.1 million, according to Crunchbase. It raised an $80 million Series E round led by Meritech Capital Partners in 2018, just a year after raising a $50 million Series D round led by ICONIQ Capital. Other investors have included Battery Ventures, InterWest Partners, Rally Ventures and Blumberg Capital.

While Braze was growing quickly even before the Covid-19 crisis began, the company said the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital and mobile usage. Braze is also betting on the increased reliance on first-party data, especially as companies adapt to finding ways to reach people without as much third-party aggregated data.

“Modern brands know that when a customer is intermediated by a third-party aggregator, ad platform or distribution channel, it’s not really their customer relationship,” Magnuson wrote. “The highest value customer relationships are informed by first-party data and cemented through direct engagement.”

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I’m a Forbes staff writer and editor of the Forbes CMO Network, leading coverage of marketing and advertising especially related to the ever-evolving role of chief

Source: Braze Begins The IPO Process Amid Pandemic-Era Growth In Digital Marketing

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SPAC Success Can Hinge on This Single Factor

For founders looking to take their company public, special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) offer a less risky, shorter alternative to traditional IPOs, if a few best practices are observed. In a SPAC, companies are formed in order to raise capital in an initial public offering and then uses the cash to acquire a private company, thereby taking it public, usually within a two-year time frame.

The process recently has become popular, especially because SPACs allow founders to avoid the extensive disclosures mandated by the traditional IPO process. Often, SPAC investors don’t even know the startup they will be acquiring–earning SPACs the nickname of “blank-check companies.” In 2021, there were 30 percent more SPAC issuances than traditional IPOs, according to The Financial Times.

But if you’re considering a blank-check deal, keep in mind that there’s one factor that is the best determinant of success. According to Wolfe Research, SPACs led by “experienced operators,” or CEOs with direct operating experience in the industry of the company being acquired, had greater returns on average than those that did not. The research found that just one year out, SPACs with experienced operators averaged a 73 percent rally, whereas those lacking an industry veteran suffered a 14 percent loss on average.

As reported by CNBC, a rather volatile market led some SPAC deals to unravel, causing companies to settle for less-than-optimal targets or change the deal all together. For this reason, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission warned investors in March to re-consider putting money in SPACs, especially those run by celebrities.

“It is never a good idea to invest in a SPAC just because someone famous sponsors or invests in it or says it is a good investment,” the SEC wrote on its website. That’s why if you’re considering a SPAC, don’t be swayed by big dollar amounts or celebrity names. Instead, think carefully about the experience that the blank-check company leaders are bringing to the table.

By Brit Morse, Assistant editor, Inc.

Source: SPAC Success Can Hinge on This Single Factor | Inc.com

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Critics:

Special Purpose Acquisition Company  also known as a “blank check company“, is a shell corporation listed on a stock exchange with the purpose of acquiring a private company, thus making it public without going through the traditional initial public offering process. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), “A SPAC is created specifically to pool funds in order to finance a merger or acquisition opportunity within a set timeframe. The opportunity usually has yet to be identified”. SPACs raised a record $82 billion in 2020, a period sometimes referred to as the “blank check boom”.

Because a SPAC is registered with the SEC and is a publicly-traded company, the general public can buy its shares before the merger or acquisition takes place. For this reason they’ve been referred to as the ‘poor man’s private equity funds.’

Academic analysis shows the investor returns on SPACs post-merger are almost uniformly heavily negative (however, sponsors at the flotation of the SPAC can earn excess returns), and their proliferation usually accelerates around periods of economic bubbles, such as the everything bubble in 2020–2021, when the volume and quantity of capital raised by SPACs set new all-time records.

SPACs generally trade as units and/or as separate common shares and warrants on the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange (as of 2008) once the public offering has been declared effective by the SEC, distinguishing the SPAC from a blank check company formed under SEC Rule 419. Commonly, units are denoted with the letter “u” (for unit) appended to the ticker symbol of SPAC shares.

Trading liquidity of the SPAC’s securities provide investors with a flexible exit strategy. In addition, the public currency enhances the position of the SPAC when negotiating a business combination with a potential merger or acquisition target. The common share price must be added to the trading price of the warrants to get an accurate picture of the SPAC’s performance.

References

The 5 Biggest IT Mistakes Companies Make And How To Avoid Them

Young woman working at home

A new study released by research firm Gartner shows that employees are nearly two times more likely to pretend to be working when their employers use tracking systems to monitor their output. Gartner surveyed more than 2,400 professionals in January 2021.

Across the world, IT professionals are in charge of an increasing number of servers and data coming in from disparate sources, and they’re using way too many monitoring tools to make sense of it all. The Reducing Complexity in IT Infrastructure Monitoring: A Study of Global Organizations report by the Ponemon Institute sheds light on the challenges of troubleshooting and monitoring cloud and on-premises environments.

  • 24% said the handling of scale and complexity of IT infrastructure has improved
  • 29% said the ability to easily deploy and maintain server monitoring technologies has improved

The survey also found that while a significant percentage of IT practitioners are in charge of monitoring over 50 servers, only 33% felt that they could ensure performance and system availability with their current toolset. So how can IT effectively manage increasingly complex, hybrid environments, and what are the major missteps IT organizations can correct to build a more efficient approach to infrastructure monitoring and troubleshooting?

Here are some of the biggest IT mistakes companies of all sizes make — and how to avoid them.

Problem #1: Too Many Tools

Seventy percent of IT professionals in the survey said that using data to determine root cause slows them down — ingesting and normalizing data of differing formats and types is tedious and unmanageable, and it’s difficult to make real-time decisions. This is often because companies use too many monitoring tools for single layers of their IT stack, such as networks or applications, which creates silos and inefficiencies. When data lives inside one tool but can’t access or communicate with data confined to other tools, IT practitioners lose context on what’s happening in their environment because they’re seeing only a part of the picture.

The Solution: The solution to too many tools and disparate data is a single, scalable monitoring tool that provides end-to-end operational visibility into hybrid environments.

Problem #2: IT and Business Friction

As digital business infrastructure increases in complexity, IT teams feel more pressure than ever to reduce business-impacting incidents. When IT systems fail, the ramifications go beyond the immediate financial loss of downtime — a business could lose customers and jeopardize its reputation, a harsh reality that keeps IT teams up day and night. According to Ponemon’s research, 61 percent of IT professionals say that lack of system availability and poor performance creates friction between IT and lines of business.

The Solution

In addition to a solution that allows IT to find the root cause to identify service interruptions, IT and business need to work together to design business and technical requirements in tandem.

Problem #3: No Way to Easily Identify Root Cause

Across the globe, IT professionals spend their days identifying and fixing server environment problems. Indeed, the Ponemon survey found that the top two challenges of troubleshooting, monitoring and cloud migration are:

  • Lack of insights to quickly pinpoint issues and identify the root cause
  • Complexity and diversity of IT systems and technology

When IT can’t find and fix issues quickly, it has a direct effect on the business.

The Solution: For IT to quickly fix problems, they need a monitoring tool that can surface an issue’s root cause with an alert about where and why something is wrong. Issue resolution time can be cut in half with a monitoring solution that correlates metrics and logs, and provides visualizations of alerts, trends and logs in one place. Making sure your monitoring tool can enable those types of actions and resolution planning is critical for success.

Problem #4: The Wrong Skills to Manage Application Complexity

When Ponemon asked IT professionals about the biggest risks to their ability to troubleshoot, monitor and migrate to the cloud:

  • 55%  said the increasing complexity of applications running on infrastructure
  • 44%  said a lack of skills and expertise to deal with application complexity

As infrastructure grows and evolves, it becomes increasingly difficult for IT teams to successfully manage, monitor and troubleshoot systems. Couple that with an IT skills gap that makes it difficult for organizations to attract and retain qualified talent, and it becomes clear why IT teams feel nonstop pressure.

The Solution: To effectively troubleshoot, monitor and migrate to the cloud, you need a solid plan that takes future growth into account is necessary for smooth IT operations. Business and IT need to work together to create an IT environment roadmap, followed by a talent strategy that aligns to that plan. Be sure to:

  • Identify skills gaps and adjust hiring
  • Identify and train qualified employees for advancement
  • Include succession planning for inevitable changes

Problem #5: Lack of Visibility Throughout Cloud Migration

Sixty-eight percent of IT practitioners said that ensuring application performance and availability throughout cloud migration caused the most stress. Over half said both cost and the inability to monitor and troubleshoot applications were their biggest pain points.

As infrastructure increases in complexity, the core responsibilities of IT to monitor and measure remain the same. So how can IT achieve infrastructure visibility and workload insights when performance data spans diverse environments?

The Solution: It’s critical to monitor performance across hybrid architectures with a monitoring solution that collects and correlates data from every location. Full visibility is needed throughout the migration process, so choose an end-to-end monitoring tool that allows you to establish a pre-migration baseline, mid-migration insights and post-migration success.

Before cloud migration, measure the baseline user experience and performance, and define acceptable post-migration levels. To accurately validate a migration’s success, use the same monitoring tool throughout the migration process. A unified tool can analyze centralized data and provide better insights from dashboards and reports.

For more of the biggest IT mistakes and solutions and examples of companies that have solved the problem check out: 8 Biggest Mistakes IT Practitioners Make and How to Avoid Them.

Splunk Inc. turns data into doing with the Data-to-Everything Platform. Splunk technology is designed to investigate, monitor, analyze and act on data at any scale.

Source: The 5 Biggest IT Mistakes Companies Make And How To Avoid Them

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Warren Buffett Says You Should Practice the 4 Habits That Separate The Best From The Rest

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett.

Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, turns 91 in August. Remarkably, at an age where most people’s cognitive functions have entirely regressed, where many are now at the hands of caretakers, Buffett still captures the world’s attention as the fifth richest person on the planet.

The greatest investor of this generation has amassed a following of millions who’ve learned, like Buffett, that long-term success is achieved by making smart decisions — in investing and in life.

Here are four Buffett lessons that will yield good returns when you choose to act on them.

1. Master the practice of “boundaries”

With all the demands on him every day, Buffett learned a long time ago that the greatest commodity of all is time. He simply mastered the art and practice of setting boundaries for himself. That’s why this Buffett quote remains a powerful life lesson. The mega-mogul said:

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.

Buffett’s advice is a bull’s-eye to our conscience. We have to know what to shoot for to simplify our lives. It means saying no over and over again to the unimportant things flying in our direction every day and remaining focused on saying yes to the few things that truly matter.

2. Invest in your personal development

What assets should you be investing in the most? In a 2019 interview, Buffett said: “By far the best investment you can make is in yourself.”

As Buffett has repeatedly taught us, it means to never stop acquiring knowledge — the kind of knowledge that betters yourself as a whole person, not just as an investor.

Buffett’s lifelong pursuit of learning, which he shares with his longtime Berkshire Hathaway partner and colleague Charlie Munger, is the secret sauce of his success.

3. Model the leadership behaviors of the best managers

In Buffett’s 2015 letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, he summarized how one arrives at leadership greatness in a few words:

Much of what you become in life depends on whom you choose to admire and copy.

The quote was in reference to Tom Murphy, who taught Buffett everything he learned about managing a company. Murphy, who was Buffett’s biggest admirer, gave plenty of lessons on the best management practices that Buffett has adapted for his own companies, including:

  • Give autonomy to workers.
  • Delegate your authority effectively and wisely.
  • Hire for integrity.

4. Build a positive reputation

Buffett’s reputation is founded on his principled and level-headed approach to his personal and professional life. When it comes to building a good reputation, these are some things worth prioritizing:

  • Establishing trust, transparency, and fairness
  • Offering good value and high-quality products and services
  • Treating people with dignity and respect
  • Communicating clearly and promptly
  • Providing a service to the community

You should treat your business practice as a reflection of yourself, and that means being thoughtful and considerate of how your decisions affect others. If you embrace professional opportunities as a chance to add value to your community, your reputation will reflect your own personal growth.

Source: Warren Buffett Says You Should Practice the 4 Habits That Separate the Best From the Rest | Inc.com

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