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Brand launch - START.

5 Top Tips to Overcome Your Brand Launch Fears

MindspinBlog-975x650-6-Dec2016

Whether you are launching a boutique brand, investing in a franchise or rebranding an established company, taking on sole responsibility for a brand launch − and the ultimate success of a business − is a daunting task.

At Mindspin Studio, we work with entrepreneurs across multiple industries, helping our clients turn their visions into outstanding businesses. Over the years, we’ve picked up more than a few tricks to conquer common entrepreneurial concerns and help you build a brand that’s worth shouting about.

1. Know your market (and your product)

Most of us enter a field as specialists, with a detailed understanding of our sector and a more general idea of the broader industry. That all changes during a brand launch. From production to shipping, operations to marketing, it’s ultimately all on you now. Taking the time to come to grips with the market is critical.

Consider your major competitors, their target market, price points and daily operations. What mistakes did they make during launch? What worked for them? Are there seasonal fluctuations in demand or supply? How will you accommodate this? What’s the best time of year to launch? Forewarned is forearmed, and the more information you have available to you, the less stressful your launch will be.

2. Overplan

Timing and finance are the biggest concerns for entrepreneurs. Paying bills and covering expenses when there’s no money coming in is incredibly stressful and has pushed more than one business owner to launch far too early.

Now is not the time to cut corners, so budget for legal, accounting and specialist advice. Give yourself a sizeable contingency fund and more than enough time to carry out market research, develop your network, hire staff and source contractors.

3. Delegate

Marketing, web design, accounting … a brand launch often means taking a crash course in skills you never thought you would need. Recognize that no one is an expert in everything and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Investing in a couple of hours with an experienced business consultant might seem extravagant now, but an expert opinion could mean the difference between success and failure further down the line.

4. Think long-term

When you are just starting out, the temptation to attract new customers with low prices is a difficult urge to fight. While there are advantages to undercutting the competition, offering your products or services at a fraction of their true value will hurt your brand long-term.

Building a business takes time, and rock bottom prices will influence the public’s perception of your brand quality. Have confidence in your products and don’t let your fear of not making a sale cloud your judgement. If you really feel the need to cut prices, consider doing so as a one-off or limited special offer and make sure customers who purchase at that price are aware of the discount.

5. Create a following

Social media and crowdfunding platforms are fantastic for creating momentum prior to a launch. An engaged online community can bolster your brand, creating a buzz around your products and delivering invaluable insights into customer behaviour and target demographics. A great reception from people outside of your immediate circle will also boost your confidence, helping to overcome any last minute doubts and niggling details ahead of your brand launch.

Printed magazines and print literature.

Advantages of Unique Print Literature in Modern Marketing

Printed magazines

The launch of the iPhone in 2008 could have spelt the end for unique print literature.

Indeed, it did look as though it might, with print advertising gurus such as Samir Husni citing the five years following (and their accompanying digital innovations) as a troubling time for the print industry.

Yet print advertising is still going strong, delivering returns on investment (ROI) of 120% — higher than any other media channel. Here, we look at the advantages print design offers in an increasingly digital world.

Credibility

We’ve relied on print for generations. It’s a relationship that adds a sense of legitimacy to this advertising channel. Print is tangible and trustworthy; special offers and information can’t be lost with one errant click and a fleeting interest won’t risk opening the floodgates to 15 different types of malware.

Branding

The recall rates for print adverts far exceed those of digital, and this level of exposure offers additional benefits to boutique businesses looking to build memorable brands. Well-chosen copy, arresting colour schemes and unique offers all leave a lasting impression in print.

Engagement

Millennial reliance on mobile media is widely accepted and has, in part, driven the popularity of digital marketing. While eMarketer reports that 36% of millennials consider digital ads more effective than print, a significant proportion (28%) consider unique print literature to be just as efficient.

Most tellingly, marketers themselves rate the effectiveness of Twitter and Facebook at 50% and 30%, respectively. By contrast, full-page ads are noticed 71% of the time and as much as 96% of that audience engage with (i.e. read) the advert content.

Less competition

As more and more brands rely on digital advertising, social media feeds, websites and search results are becoming bloated with paid adverts and pop-ups.

In direct contrast, today’s print market offers significantly less competition than it did ten years ago, with the added advantage of potentially lower advertising fees and the same high ROI.

Print in the digital world

With a dashboard full of engagement metrics, it’s easy to assess the ROI for digital campaigns. Indeed, many marketers rely on these key performance indicators to justify their digital spend.

Traditional print campaigns don’t generate data with the same level of accuracy, but when you integrate your print campaign with the digital world, you solve that problem. Interactive features such as QR codes, free downloads and shortened social media links not only increase engagement, they also provide information on demographics and audience behaviour.

A smart strategy capitalizes on all these advantages pairing unique print literature with digital media to deliver cross-channel campaigns that drive engagement and maximize ROI. (Of course, your particular strategy must be appropriate to your audience and must evolve for continual optimal impact.) Even in today’s digital world, print design can still play a vital role in successful advertising campaigns.

Small business consultant makes running a business easier.

The Advantages of Hiring a Small Business Consultant

Small business consultant makes running a business easier.

With the impact of startups like Facebook still making ripples in the entrepreneurial pond, you could be forgiven for thinking that youth and a good idea are all you need for business success.

Of course, these fresh-faced graduates didn’t build billion dollar multinationals without the experience of dedicated professionals behind them. Your premium business might not be their rival quite yet, but a small business consultant may be all you need to achieve continuing success.

Optimize Your Marketing Efforts

For new business owners, and those returning to work after time away, the current marketing landscape can be daunting. Social sharing sites and consumer behaviour have changed drastically over the past decade and marketing has changed with it. The support of a small business consultant is invaluable to business owners as they come to grips with marketing fundamentals and social media.

A consultant specializing in marketing premium businesses will be able to identify the channels best suited to your company. With years of experience across multiple sectors, business consultants are indispensable when it comes to establishing realistic marketing budgets, identifying appropriate web designs, and advising on the multitude of other marketing decisions that face new businesses today.

Grow Your Business

Don’t underestimate how important a sounding board for ideas can be, especially if you are developing your company alone. Having a small business consultant available to discuss your ideas will help you stay focused, drive your business forward, and avoid common mistakes.

For those in partnerships, a consultant can be invaluable for breaking deadlocks — saving your company as well as your friendship. An impartial party, dedicated to the success of your business but not emotionally involved, can make all the difference in those difficult first few years.

Established businesses also can benefit from the expertise of a consultant. An impartial party who can identify problem areas and reassess your business goals can be essential in identifying new markets and devising a plan for future growth.

Utilize the Experience of Others

Whether a business is in its first year or its tenth, having a professional on hand with experience in multiple industries can make a significant difference to the success of an enterprise.

Providing trustworthy, tailored advice on everything from software to business structure, small business consultants bring with them an in-depth knowledge of the market. They provide access to experience and give you proactive, professional advice tailored to promoting the success of your brand.

Mobile website redesign.

Are You Mobile? A Website Redesign Could Bolster Your Brand

Mobile website redesign

It might have been around for only a generation, but the Internet has created the fastest change in human behaviour in history. And, it’s still evolving.

The last five years have seen a shift in user behaviour; where once the majority of us accessed the Net from our desktops, now most of us surf from mobile devices.¹ What does this mean for your business? With our relationship with the Net constantly changing and new devices continually flooding the market, how important is website redesign to the continued success of your company?

What is a Responsive Website?

Responsive websites are flexible. They adapt to fit the device they are viewed on, automatically optimizing their layout to make reading and navigation as easy as possible. As such, a responsive website provides the best possible experience for each and every visitor.

The Benefit of Responsive Web Design

With technology companies constantly introducing new devices, responsive design is one of the few solutions for premium businesses looking to future-proof their sites. Redesigning your website to incorporate responsive features could be the most cost-effective means by which to ensure your business remains visible and relevant as technology changes.
A responsive site also offers huge benefits when it comes to user experience. Currently, 34 percent of smartphone owners are thought to use the Internet mainly from their phone.² Add to that the fact that only 11 percent of all Internet users surf from their desktop alone, and you begin to understand how much of your search traffic is reliant on mobile devices. A website redesign focused on increasing the functionality of your site for these users could have a significant impact on business.
With Google launching a mobile-centric update to the ranking algorithm earlier this year, companies with responsive websites now stand to gain additional SEO benefits, and could find themselves jumping up the rankings as a result. For those without mobile-friendly websites, the choice now is whether they upgrade to a responsive design or launch a new mobile site alongside their existing one. There are benefits to each, but employing a responsive design offers many advantages, especially since an upgraded site does not have to build SEO authority from scratch.

3 Signs it’s Time to Redesign Your Website

  1. It’s not mobile friendly. Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices have had their day. Non-responsive designs limit user experience, don’t rank as well and aren’t optimized for the majority of search traffic.
  2. It doesn’t incorporate social media. Social media is increasingly important. It plays a huge role in user engagement and increases brand visibility. Over half of mobile users admit to being on their device while watching TV, with 50 percent of their activity centred on Facebook.¹ If your website doesn’t, at the very least, include links to your social media accounts, it’s time for an update.
  3. It looks old. When it comes to websites, fashions change. A design that was cutting edge three years ago might fail to meet consumer expectations today, and even the most rigorously managed site is likely to have a few broken links and irrelevant content. A website redesign is essential for ensuring that your business continues to impress your visitors and challenge competitors.

¹ Sterling, G. 2014. “Report: 60 Percent of Internet Access is Mostly Mobile.” Market Land.
² Pew Research Center. 2015. “Mobile Technology Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Center.

Advertising concept, photo shoot direction and graphic design for Millards, Brantford, Ontario.

Making Marketing Fun

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The need to have fun or be fun is built into our human DNA.

When things get too serious, people become uncomfortable and don’t know how to react appropriately. An element of light-heartedness relaxes the mood and reminds the consumer that we are all human. It bridges the gap between the person selling and the person buying, and makes the entire exchange a more personable experience.

Infuse “Fun” Into Your Marketing Plan

Marketing is at its core a creative process. Approaching your message in an unexpected fashion or by infusing a sense of humour into your strategy is one way to draw in an audience who will be delighted by your down-to-earth sales approach.

If you watch any modern television commercials, you see plenty of examples of products being sold in a way that “gets the sillies out.” This is a great way to engage consumers without ignoring the fact that you are essentially promoting your wares in a space where they dry advertisements aren’t welcome. Nobody likes to watch commercials, but a commercial that has entertainment value is tolerable, and if it really makes you laugh it will be memorable. You can adopt this same concept into your strategic branding, and go further faster by adopting this method.

Personality Makes A Product Relatable

Another benefit that comes with introducing elements of “fun” to your brand identity is the opportunity to put your own personality into your product. Essentially this means that you and your message are one and the same. In the modern marketplace, brands need to have identities that reflect human qualities, including: attractiveness, relate-ability, and a sense of humour to make up the full package. Incorporating these elements makes your company more relatable and less intimidating, which encourages that ever-important brand loyalty.

There are so many great examples that we could use to demonstrate this principle in practice. Think of some of your favourite campaigns from the last few years. The “Old Spice Guy” commercials are a great example. Have marketers become comedians or have comedians become marketers? Who knows, but either way, every once in a while some brand campaigns become immensely memorable because of their humour. This playful nature is something to consider building into your own approach – as appropriate – as you grow your business.

Trade show booth branding graphic design and photo editing by Mindspin Studio for Apogee Ceramics.

Breaking All the Rules

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As branding managers, our years of experience have taught us a few tried-and-true methods that make up the key to long-term marketing success.

That said, we never hesitate when the opportunity arises to try something new, even if it comes from a place slightly outside of the box.

When it comes to your company’s marketing path, you have two options: a) Do what has already been done and has proven successful; or b) Try something different that might work, but also carries a risk factor. Often, choosing option b brings the best return on investment, because the results garnered by innovative thinking have more “stay-power” than the same old approach that consumers have come to expect.

Who Makes the Rules Anyways?

Who wrote the branding and marketing rulebook? People just like you; but before it was a “rule” it was an unproven new idea that may have been frowned upon by others. Do you think the great innovators of our time – Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Page, for example – followed a model of what to do in order to be successful? Or did they develop their very own model to follow in order to turn their inventions into the most recognizable products invented in the 21st century.

Creative thinking is the key to success in any field. Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, stated, “Always challenge the old ways” when he was asked about his advice on innovation. Instead of becoming just another moderately successful coffee shop, he became THE ONLY $40 billion coffee shop in the world. Now, his business model of success has become the inspiration for entrepreneurs everywhere, not just in the coffee business. How did he go from being the odd one out, to being the most successful operator in his line of work?

He did it the same way that a handful of other great minds have stepped outside of the confining cages of “acceptable behaviour” and begun to re-invent their industries. Instead of succumbing to trends, they reversed their thinking and built their brands by doing things in a way they had never been done. The article “12 Greatest Entrepreneurs of Our Time,” written for CNNMoney, offers some further examples of ground-shifting social and economic players who have successfully re-imagined the world of branding and marketing. These immensely recognizable companies are perfect examples of the success that can be achieved when a risk is taken and everything goes right.

The greatest moments of hesitation preventing other companies from breaking the rules and innovating on their own terms come from the fear of failure and the risk factor that needs to be considered. If your company is trying to emerge in a competitive market, the way you do so will make all the difference.

Brochure and graphic design by Mindspin Studio for City of Brantford, Hamilton, Ontario.

Giving Your Clients a Brand Experience

 blog-pre-2012-Brantford

One reason some branding and marketing strategies work and others don’t is because the visionaries of successful campaigns have managed to find a consumer base for their brand presentation.

Even when a potential customer isn’t spending money, they are still invested in the “ideas” that are propelled by the identity of the product. Essentially what this means is the value system mimicked by the product’s image matches the beliefs and needs of that individual buyer.

Tapping into the “mindset” of the consumer is not only a beneficial practice if you wish to cement the longevity of your brand, but it is also an essential tool for identifying what ideas you wish to support within your marketing strategy. Nowadays, this method of creating a unique “brand experience” is being adopted by most of the big players carving out a place for themselves amongst their competitors. One example of this is demonstrated by the growing popularity of TOMS Shoes.

I remember seeing TOMS on sale back in 2009 and thinking to myself that the design of the shoe was different from what I would typically wear – and in some ways I actually considered it to be “unattractive” from a purely fashionable point of view. It was their One for One campaign that initially drove me to buy a pair. I was drawn to the idea that I would be providing footwear to children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford what for them is an important luxury. This value was backed by the fact that the impoverished child would be benefiting from the exact same shoe that I was purchasing for me. Over time the comfort, style, and appearance of TOMS grew on me – and seemingly grew on the rest of the general public as well, as they embraced and showed their support for the mission of the TOMS brand. Now, almost everyone I know owns a pair of TOMS, or at least knows of the brand and their charitable system. How did this shoe become so well marketed and received by the public?

Not Just Brand Loyalty, But Brand Experience!

This question is easily answered when you think about how a product like TOMS makes a consumer feel. Some descriptive words include: charitable, thoughtful, economical, and considerate. In fact, the principle concept behind TOMS is an ingenious reversal of the superficial idealisms that go along with materialist purchases. Instead of feeling guilty for spending money on oneself a consumer can feel “good” about buying a pair of TOMS Shoes. This is an amazing example of a product providing a positive brand experience for its consumers.

This practice is fantastic for marketing as well: when a brand experience is so extremely positive, people can’t help but share that experience and promote it. TOMS is a great example of a brand that has been successfully marketed by its brand loyalty and the brand experience that it provides to its customers. They encourage their customers to get involved, and they have built a product empire on the human desire to do good.

Your product may not be as charitable as TOMS, or be even remotely the same concept, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gain something from this successful model. A brand experience should be positive and it should promote values that make a consumer feel “something” about that product’s identity. These feelings should be associated with the market identity of the brand, setting it apart from its competitors. In this case you may choose to buy a pair of TOMS instead of a sweatshop brand only because of how that product makes you feel. Consider this idea when you are contemplating your next big marketing strategy.

Brochure designed and written for a Toronto premium business by Mindspin Studio.

Mindspin Industry Expert Interview

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Advertising industry experts contributed to an article published in The Hamilton Spectator. The article “Advertisers Bank On ‘Real Women’ To Sell”, which begins on the publication cover page, reveals one of today’s hottest advertising concepts. Mindspin Studio Inc. was pleased to be recognized as a valued industry expert and called upon to provide insight into this issue.