Get Creative in Your Branding to Stand Out in California!

We’re a creative branding agency in California!  We’re also a full-service online marketing agency here in California, and that means we go beyond simply designing websites or creating content.  Branding is what allows your business to truly stand out from the competition, while also setting expectations among your leads about what kind of business you are.

The right branding can do a lot to boost a business’s visibility while attracting well-qualified leads who are likely to buy.  These are some of the tricks we use when helping clients improve their branding.

4 Ideas for Creative Branding in California

1 – If your company was a person, what kind of person would it be?

Buyers today, both B2C and B2B, are leery of companies that come off as too cold and impersonal.  You can do a lot to improve your outreach by giving your company more personality because buyers who match that personality will tend to gravitate towards it.

Is your company a rebel?  Are you friendly and welcoming?  Are you a stalwart bastion standing strong against the winds of change?  Find a personality that fits your corporate vision and embrace it in your branding.

2 – Make a new logo

When is the last time you revisited your logo?  If it’s been more than a couple of years, it’s probably due for a refresh.  Creating a new logo – but one which retains elements of the past logo(s) – is a great way to say “We’re up-to-date” without alienating your existing customers.

Look at Apple or Pepsi for a couple of great examples of how this can be done in practice.

3 – Think hard about your packaging

Creative branding in California is more than simply a logo – it can also be physical, as in the case of packaging.  If your product comes in a container, the type of package says a lot about your company.  A creative package will stand out on store shelves, while also making it more inviting for users.  Also, don’t neglect materials.  A lot of people will take notice if your package is made from recycled goods or is itself biodegradable. (They’ll often even pay extra!)

For more evidence, just look at the incredible popularity of “unboxing videos” on YouTube.  A well-designed package can become viral content marketing!

4 – Utilize social media

Remember that your brand is also centered upon interactions with buyers.  Your social media presence should feel like a natural extension of your corporate image – and that includes the persona we talked about in #1.  Good social media usage doesn’t merely drive leads, it also helps build the overall perception of your brand.

HiveMind Studios delivers creative branding in California agency to help you succeed!  Contact us for a free consultation.

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Rebranding: How the Right Rebranding Strategy Helps You Succeed!

Sometimes, your company image needs a refresh.  A good rebranding strategy can be a great way to revitalize your organization and attract new customers here in San Jose or anywhere else in the world.  Rebranding allows you to present an upgraded corporate persona, shift your marketing targets or simply say “We’re new and improved!”

However, rebranding isn’t easy: a lot of thought and strategy is required to pull it off.  These are some of the elements of a solid rebranding strategy that we use in our own work, when helping San Jose companies succeed.

4 Ways to Help Your Rebranding Strategy Succeed

1 – Start your rebranding strategy with plenty of research

You might have a good idea for a new branding – but will it sell?  Look hard and do plenty of hands-on research into your target markets to see what sort of reaction you’re likely to get from users.  Doing some focus groups and giving the members multiple branding options to choose between can be a great way to narrow down your choices.

Also, be sure to take a close look at the competition – you want your new brand to stand out, so do something that they’re not doing.

2 – Good communication smooths the way

Some people are going to be more resistant to change than others.  You can’t always convince everyone of the validity of your rebranding strategy, but the better you can communicate it, the more likely they are to fall into line.

This is particularly important if you utilize third-party sales partners.  You’re almost guaranteed to have problems if you spring a surprise rebranding on them.  They should be involved in the rebranding strategy early on to help guarantee they’re onboard.

Along the way, document everything.  You never know when you’ll need paperwork on-hand.

3 – Make the most of your rollout

The rollout of your new branding should have at least as much planning as the rebrand itself.  You’ll need both internal and external PR campaigns and some sort of launch party is always a good idea.  You want to generate as much publicity as possible to ensure people hear about the rebrand and aren’t caught off guard.

Tips on how your creative rebranding strategy can increase your online lead generation

You’ve seen it before. Some companies are successful when acquiring or merging and developing a creative rebranding strategy with other companies. But for some, it becomes part of a painful legacy. Remember when Hewlett-Packard merged with Compaq?  Or when Borland bought Ashton-Tate? Or when Oracle bought PeopleSoft? Or when 3Com bought Palm, and later HP bought Palm OS?

If you were in charge of marketing and maintaining lead generation gains during one of these mergers, you experienced first-hand what worked and what didn’t work. The business challenge of developing a rebranding strategy after a merger requires melding assets and liabilities. From boardroom to branch offices, “who we are, what we do and why it matters” is richer, more complex than ever before.

Flexibly and Successful Strategy

It’s at this type of flex-point, that the opportunities for success are greatest. But only if companies seriously rethink their offering, audiences, and go-to-market strategy. They can be exhilarating, stressful, celebratory and transformative. But, if you approach it by committee, you risk creating a camel instead of a horse with no unifying plan or vision.

To make certain your rebranding strategy creates a horse, you need to:

  • Get help from a creative branding agency
  • Develop a fresh, creative approach for differentiating your company
  • Improve your market presence and increases sales
  • Dress up your customer-facing materials with new branding, positioning, and messaging.
  • Reassure customers of the value-add

Not the time for shortcuts

For major corporate rebranding strategy projects, you need to use qualitative research to uncover current perceptions and impressions of your company or individually of the companies that merged. Armed with fresh information, you have the opportunity to revitalize your brand and close the gap between existing marketplace perceptions and where your company wants to be.

Key Focus Areas

The new, combined company will be successful if you concentrate on the following 5 areas:

  1. Visibility and effectiveness of your website
  2. Credibility of your relationships with key media and analysts
  3. Strength and awareness of your brand
  4. Performance of your lead generation programs
  5. Effectiveness of technology solutions to support lead nurturing tactics, and critical KPIs

4 – Get ready to do some policing

Even the best rebranding strategy can fail with bad follow-through.  You’ll need to be proactive about correcting partners who are still using old logos, who don’t have the right color scheme or otherwise are going off-brand.  The initial weeks and months after the rebrand reveal are most crucial.  If you let the new branding become diluted it may never recover.

Need a new look for your San Jose business?  HiveMind Studios is a creative marketing group who can help you develop an awesome rebranding strategy.  Contact us for a free consultation!

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How to Use Competitive Intelligence to Differentiate Your Brand

Gaining in-depth knowledge about your competitors is crucial for succeeding in today’s competitive business arena, but many businesses tend to consider competition as a serious threat to their brands without actually delving deeply into the matter. Carefully assessing the competitive landscape can help you come up with better products and/or services than those that already exist on the market. Getting to properly know your competitors before trying to beat them is undoubtedly the best strategy, as armed with this precious knowledge, you can lay the foundation for the sustainable strategic development of your brand. This is where competitive intelligence can help.

What is competitive intelligence (and what isn’t)?

Let’s get one thing straight: There’s a world of difference between competitive intelligence and competitor spying. It is true to say that both activities have competitors as the main part of the external monitoring and analysis process, but the former is based strictly on ethical research, where all relevant pieces of information are disclosed and honest and realistic recommendations are made, while the latter may involve shady and secretive practices. In other words, competitive intelligence is legit, purposeful fact-finding, while competitor spying is more like going through your competitors’ garbage in search of clues.

Identify competitors

Competitive AnalysisNaturally, the first step in the competitive intelligence process is to identify competitors. This might look easy at first, but in reality, things are much more complex, especially if you are trying to foray into a new territory.

If you google several variations of keywords for the products/services that your brand is targeting, the top results in SERP are the companies that you should try to surpass. Although these are probably among the prime competitors for your brand, employing additional tools will definitely get you a clearer picture.    

Define the sales strategy

If you know what promotional channels your competitors are using and what messages and values they are trying to convey to seal the deal, this can help you come up with a winning sales strategy for your brand. Collecting data about your competitors and the market trends enables you to establish your ideal customer profile and learn what it takes to attract target clients. You should act like a consultant to your prospects and be deliberate when moving upwards.

You’d be best advised to test your sales strategy before you start implementing it in earnest. To this end, you should run a sort of a ‘disciplined experiment’. Once you establish exactly what you are trying to test and you are crystal clear about the goals and the timeline for accomplishing them, KPIs and relevant metrics will tell you if your strategy works. 

Boost marketing efforts

As a brand, you surely don’t want to let your competitors outperform you in your marketing efforts. Sign up for newsletters on their websites, subscribe to their blogs and attend the webinars that they are conducting, as this will allow you to keep tabs on the info they share about the topics of their interest.

Analyzing the content gap can get you ahead of the competition by giving you insight into the types of content you should develop to appeal to your target customers. The more thoroughly you answer all the questions that your clients might have throughout the acquisition process, the better chances you have at them sticking around and buying from you and not from your competitors.

Develop new markets

With the help of competitive analysis tools, your business can identify the market gaps that are waiting to be filled. Closely monitoring your competition certainly facilitates your expansion efforts, but you shouldn’t let it hamper your vision – you should constantly focus on meeting the preferences of your target audience or prospects and driving value.

Without a proxy already existing on the market, your role is to educate your target customers on the placement and value of your products. No market is prepared for products that cross multiple categories. For instance, clothing is commonly split by “work or casual” and “day or night”. You have to find a way to navigate this type of balance and explain it to your customers to create a new category with your brand.

As you can see, collecting intelligence about your competitors and the market and using it to differentiate your brand is not as easy as it might appear. If you lack the capacity to properly pursue these activities in-house, you can always seek help from a specialized agency like HiveMind for in-depth knowledge and accurate insights about your competition.

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Data-Driven Personas: The Essence of Contemporary Digital Marketing

Successful marketers have started employing data-driven personas to supercharge their content, strategies and campaigns. This makes total sense based on the volume growth of generated data in recent years. Knowing your customers has become even more crucial for successfully marketing any product or service.

Data-driven personas are born when you supplement the traditional process of collecting information with digital activities, behaviors and attitudes. Click To Tweet

Traditional Personas

Traditional personas rely on research methods such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, surveys, and user testing, to collect data about their customers.

These are the most common questions these methods seek to answer:

  • What do customers need?
  • How do they envisage fulfilling that need?
  • What obstacles are impeding their need fulfillment?

The collected info is then used to build different personas, representing different types of users.

User experience (UX) design was among the first applications of personas, as UX designers needed to learn as much about their users as they could to design products based on their behavior and needs. The same goes for developers, who must empathize with users they will probably never meet.

The crossover between designing user experience and customer experience enabled marketers to use personas to develop marketing strategies and campaigns. With methods quite similar to those employed by UX practitioners, marketers use the customer-centric to attain their goals. However, traditional personas can’t always keep pace with all the emerging trends and changes in customer behavior in the digital era.

Common mistakes of traditional personas

The traditional approach has recently been exposed to criticism for three major flaws:

Being biased towards customer responses

Asking customers about what they did or what they think is undoubtedly a great way to collect insights, but if you rely too heavily on this method, it can easily lead to biased data. For example, users often report discovering a product or service through Google search, yet somehow fail to mention ads they saw that could have motivated them to do the search. In this case, personas undervalue adverts and overvalue search.

Being either too broad or too narrow to be useful

Placing emphasis on creating a ‘real’ user can often result in campaigns focused almost entirely on a single customer instead of representing a substantially broader group of customers. On the other hand, personas shouldn’t be too broad either, lacking identifiable features that are unique enough to actually provide value.

Not being actionable

You’ve created your persona and you proudly shared it with the world – but nothing happened – they ended up somewhere in the dark corners of a shared drive, stranded and forgotten. This is every researcher’s worst nightmare, especially if it occurs after a lengthy, rigorous and detailed investigative process.

Effective personas have to be actionable to function in the real world instead of pathetically collecting dust, which is exactly why your approach should go a step further.

Data-driven personas

Data-driven personas are born when you supplement the traditional process of collecting information with digital activities, behaviors and attitudes. These data nuggets come from different channels,  range of sources, including web analytics, digital surveys and panels (as GlobalWebIndex),  social listening tools (as Brandwatch), as well as social media insights (gathered from the social platforms themselves, naturally).

Solutions as these allow you to get scalable insights quite fast – you don’t have to wait for months for data to be gathered, but simply adjust parameters in each tool when you spot a new insight. Moreover, these tools update data in real time, meaning that you can iterate personas and keep them fresh as the marketplace changes.

The data-driven approach allows you to answer the following questions:

  • Where are your personas posting content?
  • What are your personas talking about right now?
  • How exactly are your personas researching new products/brands online?
  • What devices are used at each stage of the customer decision process?
  • What are their attitudes and in what ways are they influencing purchasing behavior?

The answers to these provide valuable insights for strategists to plan, publishers to come up with impeccable content and creatives to find inspiration. They also resolve the issues of traditional personas that we mentioned earlier, making them more objective, actionable and created with the real user in mind.

Personas are a useful, relevant tool for producing content that answers your customers’ questions, allowing for a positive effect on the bottom line by targeting the right audience at the right time. Yet, without digital insights that new tools provide, you can easily end up with the relics of a bygone age. Employing data-driven personas gives you precious, in-depth knowledge that strengthens your marketing efforts in the online realm.

Call HiveMind Studios today for first-rate strategic marketing in San Jose!

HiveMind Studios is a premier San Jose digital marketing company, with top-tier clients across the country.  Contact us to consult on your digital marketing strategies!



Use This Brand Audit To See How Your Business Really Looks to Customers

Updated 5/2019

After a few years in business (or even a few months) without a brand audit, it can be easy to get so focused on the day-to-day work that other parts of your business fall to the wayside. One of the elements that can get pushed to the side is your branding.

If you aren’t mindful about the way you present your brand, it can quickly become disjointed and disconnected. And, that’s a problem because a poor brand experience can lead to:

  • Customer confusion
  • Ineffective marketing
  • Poor brand recognition
  • Inability to build a loyal customer base
  • Decrease in sales and revenue

So if you’ve noticed that your brand is experiencing some cracks, it’s time to pull it back together. Use this brand audit to identify where you need to fix, update, and improve your brand image.

Create a Brand Guide

Before you perform a brand audit, you need to have a list of guidelines that will direct and help you assess the way your brand looks, sounds, and feels.

Create a brand guide with sections that describe your:

  • Audience: who you are trying to reach
  • Mission: the goals your business is trying to accomplish
  • Voice: the tone that describes the way you communicate
  • Values: the core principles that guide your business decisions
  • Brand promise: the value you promise to deliver to your customers
  • Unique selling propositions: your unique positioning statement and the factors that make you different and/or better than your competitors

If you go according to this guide, once you have these important details outlined, you can then review the existing elements of your brand and see where they match up or fall short.

Evaluate Your Brand Design

In the next step of your brand audit, look at the design elements of your business. This includes your:

  • Logo
  • Brand colors
  • Fonts
  • Photos
  • Images
  • Graphics

Gather these design elements and review them against your brand guide. Do your design elements match the brand look and feel you are trying to create?

Evaluate Your Brand Collateral

Once you know what your brand design should look like, it’s time to make sure your design elements are consistent across all of your marketing collateral.

You don’t want half of your marketing materials to use your old brand design, while the other half is using your new colors, fonts, and logos. This is what causes customer confusion and decreases brand recognition.

Check each of the following types of collateral to make sure they share the same brand design:

  • Website
  • Social media profiles
  • Print materials
  • Signage
  • Employee uniforms
  • Product packaging
  • Ads

Evaluate Your Brand Messaging & Content

It’s not just the look of your brand that tells customers who you are. It’s also the language and content you share. So in the next step of your brand audit, look at all of your sales and marketing materials to review your messaging. Also, look how your messages are being received by audiences.

Review your sales messaging and long-form content (sales landing pages, blog posts, guides, etc.) to see if it uses your brand voice, clearly articulates your unique selling propositions, and speaks directly to your target audience.

Use analytics to see where you are hitting the mark or falling short.

  • Look at your website data to see if your most important pages are being viewed most often.
  • Look at your social media analytics to see what topics and messages your audience responds to most.
  • Look at SEO analytics to see if the right keywords are driving the right audiences to your website.
  • Look at your sales data to see if your core products and services have the highest sales.

You may think your messaging is clear, but the data may tell you a different story.

Develop a Plan Based on Your Brand Audit

The value of a brand audit is not in the review. It’s in what you do with the information you learned during your brand audit.

Once you go through each of the steps outlined in this post, create a plan of action based on what you learned.

  1. Outline specific issues. Create a list of the problems and inconsistencies you uncovered during your brand audit.
  2. Develop an action plan. Outline a step-by-step plan of action for resolving each issue.
  3. Add deadlines to each plan. Put your plan on a timeline to ensure that you don’t continue to let your branding fall to the wayside.

When you’re managing the day-to-day operations of a business, it can be easy to let things like brand consistency get pushed to the side.

But, having a cohesive, authentic, and consistent brand is far too important to ignore. So follow through with your plan to improve or even rebrand your brand’s image.

Get More Branding Tips

For more tips on how to improve your brand and make changes based on what you learned in your brand audit, get our free ebook. This FREE branding guide will help you discover elements of branding that will create a cohesive and memorable look and feel.

Brand Audit

For more information, visit these related posts:
The 2018 Ultimate Guide To Branding
Brand Humanity The Final Frontier: 5 Ways To Market To Humans


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Digital Branding Tips for a Highly Successful Product Launch 

When introducing a new product, whether digital or physical, you must develop a sound plan to get customers interested. Not long ago, a simple mention of a new product to the press was enough to bring customers to your door, but these days for a product launch to be successful you have to work really hard not only to catch prospective customers’ attention, but also to keep them interested in the long term. 

Having landing pages ready and available ahead of a product launch is a key way to generate interest in a product or service and will capture leads. Click To Tweet

As you strive to stand out in the market, digital branding will aid you in reaching new clients, connecting with your audience and generally attracting more attention. If you are getting ready for launching a new service or product, these smart digital branding tips will help you create a storm of excitement and interest.

Capture product launch leads with a landing page

landing page testing

Having landing pages ready and available ahead of a product launch is a key way to generate interest in a product or service and will capture leads. The page will serve as an advertisement and as a digital hub which will connect to other resources surrounding your product before launch day.

Know your audience

It’s important to know and understand your audience and their needs so that you can target them effectively, and to make sure that you are sending messages to the people that will make the purchases. Speaking their language will help you to engage with them more directly. 

Master communication

By making sure that the information you give is clear, to the point, and interesting, and by providing answers upfront to anticipated questions, you will ease your client’s decision making process and increase sales, explains this progressive undergraduate program in creative advertising and branding. With this in mind, you should highlight why your product is better than your competitors, even demonstrate this with a side-by-side comparison. 

The importance of video

Videos have proven to be the most effective tool at capturing potential customers from landing pages, and converting their interest in to sales. The Corporate video production should be designed to help visitors decide to buy your product which on average will convince over 60% of them.

Capture clients long-term through a sign-up form

Your call-to-action should stand out and grab the user’s attention, and so should the all-important sign-up button which you can distinguish through use of color. You should make information enticing and let visitors know the rewards for signing up. 

Make use of social media for a successful product launch

For a successful launch, you must make people aware of your product. Social media is a key tool used for increasing awareness long before the product is available. Get people talking!

Engage customers through interviews

This is a great avenue for sharing information. It allows for instant feedback about your product and ideas in a live Q&A session which gets your customers engaging with you.  You can also share snippets of the interview or a summary of the content across multiple platforms.

Take the quickest route

Often we hear about news through twitter hours before any other outlet, making this a popular and essential platform for an initial release of information. Make sure to link to your press releases, videos, and other content.

Collaborate and influence

Influencers can help you gather a large audience very quickly and their involvement with your brand will create excitement. Allowing them to post temporary, eye-catching content will create a lot of curious clients and increase your fan base.

The final countdown

This will keep everyone aware and updated about your product launch and will build anticipation leading up to launch day. It’s a great idea to share news or media each day, make sure it’s creative and exciting.

Craft a product launch email campaign

Email newsletter

Once you’ve captured some leads generated by the landing page, you need to keep people interested and more importantly, keep them interested in purchasing your products and services. Setting up an email sequence is a good way to keep interest peaked and to guide clients through a sales channel. You can start things off with something as simple as an automated thank you message.

Show subscribers that you appreciate them

Subscribers can become early adopters of your brand if you nurture them properly. Award them with exclusive videos, or things like early access to make them feel like they are joining an exclusive club. 

Insider knowledge

You will always need feedback to know that you are staying on track. You can track your subscribers to find out who completed actions and how they were engaged along the way, giving you proper insight into the buying process. Engage with the more valuable active subscribers in particular, and ask them directly for feedback.

Make sales a sure thing

If your audience has been highly motivated to buy your products from your campaigning, then take advantage of the opportunity and take pre-orders. You can close the sale while they are at their most interested, thus, not allowing the chance to slip away.

It’s a great idea to share news or media each day; make sure it’s creative and exciting. Click To Tweet

Using these digital strategies to your advantage will help you convert potential customers into satisfied, loyal consumers, increasing brand awareness and maximizing conversions in so doing. Are you ready to make this happen?

At HiveMind, a Digital Marketing agency in San Jose, CA, we have developed unique solutions across the entire gamut of digital marketing services. It’s our goal to help our clients navigate the complex and rapidly-evolving marketing landscape and remain at the forefront. Contact our team for more information.

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