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5 Steps to Create the Perfect Color Palette for Your Brand [Infographic] — Red Website Design Blog

Are you in the process of starting a new business? Need help choosing a colour palette that represents your brand values? Hannah Robinson Design share their guide to choosing your business colors in this infographic. These are the shades they recommend you need to choose: Bold Complimentary Neutral Dark Light Check out the infographic for…

via 5 Steps to Create the Perfect Colour Palette for Your Brand [Infographic] — Red Website Design Blog

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3 Ways to Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing – Brian Hughes

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Can your company’s content pass the “no-logo test”? When I work with digital strategy clients who are struggling with content marketing, I always ask them to take the logo test, inspired by this excellent Content Marketing Institute article. You should try it, too.

Related: 5 Tips for Building a Strong Brand Identity

To do that, copy and paste articles you’ve written, along with articles from your competitors, into Word documents. Print out the documents and lay them side by side. Now, can you identify your content from the competition’s without the aid of any logos or company names? If your content lacks a distinct voice and tone, it won’t stand out.

I get it: When you’re first getting started with content marketing, even publishing a blog post every few weeks can feel like a major victory. But once you work out the mechanics of content ideation, you should put in the time needed to create content that brings your brand to life. Why? In a world drowning in digital clutter, content marketing is most effective when you provide a clear, distinct viewpoint that’s beneficial to your target audience.

What’s the secret ingredient that elevates generic content to a brand-building masterpiece? Your brand voice.

“Brand voice is the intentional, consistent communication of your business identity,” brand strategist Dima Midon told me in a recent phone interview. Midon, who founded the brand strategy and digital marketing firm TrafficBox, is an expert in all things SEO and search-engine marketing. He also knows that these digital strategies are incomplete without a solid branded content foundation.

“From startups to global businesses, the organizations with the best content strategy are those that create content reflective of their brand’s unique personality and then use this content to build stronger relationships with prospects and clients,” says Midon.

Branded content has exploded in popularity over the last five years. For clients and customers, reading branded content — in general — is far more interesting and relevant than a marketing ad. “Branded” means content that’s informative, interactive and entertaining and brings value to a reader’s day. Thanks to social media, such content can catch on like wildfire, rapidly reaching a far wider audience than a standard marketing message.

Vision, voice, and value: Bringing branded content marketing to life

As the name implies, “branded content marketing” needs to be grounded in your brand’s identity. If your content can’t pass the “logo test,” it will be just another of those generic pieces daily bombarding your target audience. To make your content stand out, bring your brand identity to life with three steps:

Define your vision. Your organization likely has a mission or vision statement, company goals and core values. Consider how the content you create will reflect this mission, goals and values. Then align this vision with your customer’s needs. Every piece of branded content you create should apply your company’s unique perspective and expertise to problems your customers face.

Example? Consider the “Open Forum” American Express sponsors, to provide small business owners with the “insights, inspiration and connections” they need to grow their business. While topics range from money management to team building, every piece of content Amex publishes here is dedicated to advancing its vision of helping small businesses thrive.

Define your brand voice. A distinctive, unwavering brand voice is an essential component of successful content marketing. While you may have a very clear idea of your brand’s voice, ask yourself, is everyone else at your company on board with this voice, too? Brands, like people, need to prioritize certain traits, to build a reputation. Scattered messaging and inconsistent brand voice can confuse your audience.

So, take time now to codify brand voice and guidelines. Many B2B companies, for example, seek to strike a balance between professionalism and accessibility. They want to be viewed as subject matter experts without sounding too technical or complex. Consequently, the corresponding brand-voice guideline might emphasize the use of clear, concise language that avoids technical jargon.

Example? MailChimp’s brand voice is a great example of how a B2B company can strike this balance. The company isn’t afraid to show a little personality with the use of cultural references and colloquial phrases its customers can relate to. Consider the clever Sherlock Holmes reference for the website’s 401 error message, below.

Your own brand guide needn’t be lengthy: Voice and tone can be covered by just a few guidelines. (I’m a fan of MailChimp’s voice and tone guide, available free as part of its master Content Style Guide.) What matters most is that you codify these guidelines so there is a single set of rules for everyone working on content at your company. From the work of freelance writers to that of marketing directors, your company’s content marketing will reflect a consistent brand voice.

3. Define your value. Branded content is beneficial not only for defining the buying vision in your favor but also for reminding existing customers about how valuable your offerings truly are. From case studies to white papers, how can you create content that helps existing customers maximize the value of your offerings? Perhaps you can spotlight a new offering or provide tutorials for advanced features. The key is to use your branded content to move from a transactional relationship to a customer-centric one that delivers real value.

Example? The enterprise software company SAP has nailed this mission. While many of its products and services seem technically complex to the average B2B decision-maker, the company’s white papers expertly explain the importance of digital transformation in accessible layman’s terms. Most importantly, this content is never a “hard sell” for SAP, but instead subtly reminds customers about the valuable benefits SAP can present as a strategic partner.

Rather than sending marketing material to customers touting your “top of the line products,” then, send them branded content that explains how to use your products to solve their problems. Content that maximizes perceived value strengthens your brand and drives customer retention.

Bottom line

Content marketing is an essential B2B marketing strategy that’s continuing to gain in importance. According to HubSpot, B2B marketers allocate 28 percent of their total marketing budget to content marketing. But before you too jump on this bandwagon, be sure your content is aligned with your brand vision, voice and value. Doing so will ensure your content is impactful, relevant and worth the investment.

 

 

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A Future of Monetized Branded Content Begins With Customer Value – Lauren McMenemy

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Content noise has reached epic proportions, and standing out from the crowd is no longer as easy as chucking money into paid distribution. Providing customer value becomes paramount as users have millions of links all vying for their clicks. They are more discerning, and also more skeptical; so the quality and provenance of content is evermore important.

Traditional media outlets have been struggling with this for at least a decade. As the internet became all-pervasive, media companies just duplicated their print offerings online, for free. It was a scramble to stay relevant in a digital age, but it actually damaged brands and the industry as a whole. By the time paywalls started going up, and the publishers began asking their audience to pay for access to content they had already been getting for nothing, the expectation and value of the content had already been assumed to be, well, free. Consumers naturally were resistant to suddenly being required to pay to read. After all, the internet should be free… right?

“In the transition to digital, a great error media companies have made is trying to emulate technology companies’ business model. If you’re Google or Facebook, advertising works. You’ve got the scale to make sense of keeping a product free … [But] unless buoyed by reach of billions of users, those who don’t charge for at least part of what they do are doomed.

“If you stand by the principle of not charging for anything, sooner or later it’ll make you compromise on everything,” writes online publishing course owner Edward Druce on Medium:

This is all well and good for traditional media outlets, those places we’ve turned to for centuries to inform and entertain us. We pay for the print versions, and evidence shows around two-thirds of news outlets in Europe now have some kind of pay model for digital content.

But the media landscape has changed—brands are now getting in on the publishing act. As brand publishers mature in their offering, the big question has yet to be asked: Will consumers pay for branded content?

Legacy Branded Content Still Sells

The short answer is yes, actually. Age-old content marketing products like the Michelin Guide, prove that consumers will pay for content that provides value, regardless of who has written it. Michelin now prints a range of travel guides, maps, atlases, and more to complement the world’s best-known restaurant guide—all created, of course, to get people into their cars and wearing down their tires.

man reading a magazine

In the UK, The AA (Automobile Association, a roadside assistance provider) follows a similar path, but adds in printed versions of the Highway Code and books to help study for your drivers license. Once you’ve got that license, you’ll need their services, of course.

It’s not just the car industry that has customers paying for content. Weight Watchers Magazine has a total paid circulation of 1,127,545, 90% of which are subscribers. That’s more than one million consumers automatically paying monthly for a magazine that has the sole aim of promoting the Weight Watchers nutritional plans.

So while paying for branded content can work, these are special cases of well-established brands providing tremendous customer value. There is still yet to be a brand that harnesses the power of a paywall for branded content on a mass scale. However, marketers aren’t ruling out the possibility.

Ideas for Leaders explores the idea of charging for online content, ironically placing the crux of the content behind a subscription paywall: “It is crucial how a fee-based charging structure is implemented: charge too little and you are missing out on valuable subscription revenue; but charge too much—or for the wrong content—and you will lose viewers, further undermining advertising revenues. The key is for media companies to take a flexible approach, charging optimal fees for selected content.”

How Can You Charge For Content?

Man standing on train platform reading newspaper

There are various models out there, both in the traditional media world and the world of freelance creators, that a company could look to adapt for its own revenue stream.

A paywall

Hide all of your content behind a payment portal, and charge an annual or monthly subscription fee for access. This model, however, requires a lot of trust on the part of the consumer given they are basically purchasing your content without knowing its quality. If you disappoint them, it may well do more than just lose you a subscriber—it could hit your brand’s reputation.

Remove the ads

If your content hub is currently complemented by banner advertising—be it for your own company, or sold space—some of your audience may be willing to pay a small subscription to remove the ads. Of course, this option is less likely today as ad blocking software is becoming more prevalent, and will necessitate flexible design.

Premium content offerings

Taking a cue from the Telegraph, you could drop the paywall in favor of offering additional special content in exchange for a small payment. In this way, most of your content will remain free to access, but those who truly value the quality of your analysis would get access to special reports or additional reporting.

One-off publications

Many brands know the impact a special report or regular review can have on downloads. True customer value can be found in providing industry analysis or investigative reporting. These publications are the result of months of hard work—why give it away for free? Likewise, you could ask for a small stipend in return for e-books and educational resources. Take a leaf from Michelin’s book and consider producing a guide that will offer insights to your industry.

Webinars and e-learning

Edward Druce’s Course Concierge, helps content creators to serve their audience and get paid for their efforts. One of their clients is Steve Ramsey, who spent 10 years creating woodworking videos on YouTube for a subscriber base of nearly one million people. He’s now offering more in-depth online courses to that subscriber base and making nearly 10 times the income he was on YouTube alone. While Steve is a one-man operation, what’s stopping your company from launching your own online instructional programs?

Paid subscriptions

Subscriber numbers are the holy grail for content marketers, a sign their content offers a valuable ROI to a loyal audience. It’s also a great way to create a community, something many freelance content creators have been doing via sites such as Patreon and Substack.

Screenshot from Patreon website

The former allows creators to run a membership business for fans, providing a meaningful revenue stream while being free from restrictions of third-party platforms such as YouTube. Substack, on the other hand, helps writers to start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions. A very new platform, it reportedly has just over 11,000 subscribers to newsletters paying an average of $80 a year for content.

Both options present a quick and easy way to monetize content as well as examples of how a brand might be able to build a subscriber base willing to pay for its content.

Asking for Payment? First, Offer Value

One of the founders of Substack, Christopher Best, has wise words for content creators looking to start a payment model: “The most important thing is knowing who your audience is and what they need and what they want; it’s them feeling like they have a connection with the author that gets people to pay,” he told Nieman Lab.

“When you’re orienting towards paying subscribers, you do start to see some metrics that don’t necessarily matter—just getting a huge number of clicks, in an advertising-driven world that is an end unto itself. But it doesn’t matter from a subscription perspective. On the other hand, you still have to get people to show up and see what you’re doing; you also have to show them the value of what you’re sending them.”

Mind you, a poll held on debate.org found only 20% of Americans think newspapers should charge for content online, so what hope do brands have? It doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it just means you should very carefully consider how you introduce the new revenue stream.

Ensure you’re offering optimum customer value, which means your content should be absolute top quality. Nothing “quick and dirty” will cut it. And importantly, don’t try to charge for something that was previously free. If this is something you want to explore as a potential new revenue stream, introduce a new content outlet, and perhaps test it out on small pieces to begin with.

One marketer I discussed this idea with spoke of an idea he’s had for a while—that the future of journalism will go the way of music, and we’ll have a Spotify-style service for written content. The idea would be that you pay to subscribe, and in return you get access to content from a selection of quality publications who are then paid royalties for access. There’s no reason why content from a brand couldn’t fit such a service—as long as it is top quality.

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Why Brands Have To Manage Follower Expectations On Social Media – Jayce Redford

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It’s only a tweet. There’s no harm done. It’s just banter. That’s not how Mauricio Pochettino saw it. Or, indeed, Harry Kane. When the official Twitter account of the Football Association sent a tweet lightly mocking – and all in good nature – the England and Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane, all hell broke loose and it’s found its way going right up to the manager, Pochettino.

It wasn’t just storm in a Tweet-cup, either. Kane recently had the gumption to claim that he had managed to get the slightest of touches on the ball after a shot from his teammate Christian Eriksen, and therefore attempted to – for want of a better phrase – steal the goal away from the Dane.

Unfriendly behaviour

So it might not be the most friendly behaviour from the England man: taking a goal off your teammate is to rob him of a statistic at the end of the season, it may even have denied him a goal bonus either from the team or his sponsors. But it’s also a good thing in footballing terms to see a striker who is so hungry for goals, awards and records that he puts on the blinkers and singularly focuses on scoring as many goals as he possibly can. Kane currently has odds of 7/1 to be the top goal scorer of the 17/18 season

Because of this, though, Kane was gently mocked. When you’re such a high-profile, Premier League footballer that’s par for the course: you can’t really say or do anything without someone, somewhere, analysing it. And when it becomes a running joke, you’re the butt of all the jokes for a little while.

That seems fair enough: it happens to all top footballers at least once, and they mostly laugh it off. You need thick skin to be a top player these days, but we shouldn’t think of this as bullying – just a light-hearted about a piece of contemporary popular culture. Like any other meme, really.

Official account

But where we really get into the weeds is the bit where we start to consider what official accounts of old, prestigious organisations should be doing on social media.

Clearly, everyone needs a Twitter account these days. It’s a way for brands and celebrities to interact with the public. For football clubs and leagues, it’s necessary to engage with their fans, and indeed the more likes and shares they get the more ‘fans’ they can claim to have. And if they can show their reach is big, they can sign bigger and better deals with sponsors.

Is that what was going on here?

We know that brands and other big accounts tend to try to muscle in on the big events. If they can stay relevant, that’s important, but if they can become part of the story even better. When Iceland beat England at Euro 2016, frozen food retailer Iceland became a viral news story after their social media team pounced on the result and supported the Icelandic national team for the remainder of the tournament.

Hitting the numbers

The thing is, these days there is at least some sort of strategy behind every ‘official’ social media post. Long gone are the days when the intern was let loose on the Twitter account because no one else cared. Now every post is strategised over – maybe not in real time when you’re trying to react to a breaking news story, but there will at least have been a meeting about tone and tactics before the weekend started.

But it begs the question of why the FA would want to go down the more light-hearted route. They are the oldest football governing body in the world – of course they’re seen as old and starchy. And so when they try to be down with the kids, it’s hard for them to hit the right notes and people find it difficult to swallow.

Of course – as mentioned – this is all part of a wider strategy. This wasn’t simply a rogue post that was out of line with what the FA are trying to do on social media. Indeed, it’s firmly in line with their drive to connect with younger audiences on social media. From advertising campaigns aimed at that demographic to innovative uses of Instagram polls and account takeovers like they did for the Wigan v Manchester City FA Cup game a few months ago in an earlier round, they are changing the tone of their brand and doing it fairly successfully.

Just not successfully enough to get away with a ‘banter’ post like this one, it seems.

It shows once again that you have to bear in mind the expectations that your followers have of you on social media, and if you don’t give them what they expect it’s jarring and appears wrong. And when you do that, you’re going to get criticized.

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The Surprising Shift That Is Changing The Way Brands Deliver Digital Campaigns

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In January, Dollar Shave Club began its bid to crack the UK market by launching a TV ad campaign. The mail-order razor company’s success stemmed from a brilliant YouTube video that went viral in 2012, generating growth that, four years later, led to a $1 billion buyout by Unilever.

Now part of a multinational conglomerate, Dollar Shave Club’s advertising is taking a more traditional media buying route. At a time when many other businesses are reducing their dependence and spending on traditional media, this move by content marketing’s poster child feels like a backward step.

The media buyer is no longer king

Advertising used to be simpler. With only so many billboards, magazines, and TV ad breaks, much of a campaign’s success depended on securing the right media placement. This made media buying your biggest expense and the typical budget split between media and the production costs of the ad you wanted to place was 80:20.

If spending just 20% of your campaign budget on production seems low to the modern marketer, it’s because the content landscape has changed dramatically. According to former PepsiCo president, Brad Jakeman:

“20 years ago, brands created four pieces of content a year, each taking about four months to make, with a budget of $2 million. Nowadays, brands are pushing out more like 400-4,000 pieces of content… four months has changed to four days to four hours.”

With more emphasis on earned media and using data to discover cost-effective ways of reaching highly-targeted audiences, businesses today are pushing the media vs production ratio towards a more even split. The most innovative advertisers, who focus more on digital than TV, are now in the 55:45 range.

A major reason for this shift is that advertisers now have access to a vastly increased number of ways to reach specific customers. This requires a firehose of data-driven creative content that you can personalize, test, refresh and reuse across a range of channels. The more even split between media and production also demonstrates that creative content is no longer the add-on to a media buying strategy. The creative and the data now both inform and influence each other equally.

The traditional agency and media buyer model remain relevant for producing and launching big TV campaigns. But creating and managing dynamic, everyday ad content is often left to in-house marketing teams, who are typically under-resourced and lack the skills to produce successful content efficiently.

BONUS: What’s next in terms of figuring out what makes great ad creative? We’ve put together a free Cheat Sheet to help you ensure your creative drives better Facebook Ad Results. Get your hands on your free copy here.

Supercharging creative production

Fortunately, this gap in the market is being filled by the emergence of creative technology platforms like Shuttlerock. These services use creative technology, data and automation to enable and empower businesses to increase content production efficiently, boost results and cut media buying costs even further.

European scooter sharing service eCooltra wanted to find a more efficient way to acquire mobile app users. The company turned to Shuttlerock, who launched new Facebook campaigns by using repurposed user-generated-content that they had transformed into striking short-form videos.

By automatically rotating this new creative to keep it fresh and constantly evaluating the performance of each ad, Shuttlerock helped eCooltra cut its cost per acquisition (CPA) for each new user by more than 40%.

Bokksu media shuttle article digital campaigns

Agile advertising     

Facebook’s Creative Shop Director Tom Brown compared the changes in advertising to what happened to software development a decade previously. Releasing new software used to involve years of upfront work that resulted in a big-box release, much like the traditional agency-created TV ad. The evolution of software-as-a-service transformed that model to one where updates happen all the time and agile developers react to user data about which features work best.

Your advertising content production should also be an ongoing process that, with help from the new breed of innovative creative technology platforms, responds to how audiences receive your messages. Make creative and media equal partners in driving your strategy and you’ll deliver better results for your business.

BONUS: What’s next in terms of figuring out what makes great ad creative? We’ve put together a free Cheat Sheet to help you ensure your creative drives better Facebook Ad Results. Get your hands on your free copy here.

Guest Author: Paul Bingham, COO ShuttleRock.com 

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