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Running late for my appointment, I flew into the local barber shop for a haircut. Not noticing the typical Visa/MC sign in the window, I quickly apologized—telling the barber that I’d have to come back once I’d gone to an ATM machine.

Without hesitation, Dell says, “Sit Down, Arrick. We’re all friends here.”

I did as I was told, sat down and proceeded to receive the perfect haircut. Once finished, I made my way to the closest ATM and settled up. Walking home, I couldn’t help but think about how he could have handled this differently.

We’ve all encountered that person who is just excited to say something negative. This barber was different. He didn’t worry about the money, he took the pressure off of me as if it didn’t even matter. He turned a customer into a friend and literally made me look forward to my haircuts now as a positive event—not a necessary errand.

Dell knew that it wasn’t about the $10. It was about putting a smile on a customers face. That’s what keeps us coming back. That’s what makes us tell stories. That’s how word of mouth marketing must begin, with a good positive experience that inspires someone to tell others.

-Arrick
arrick@spinweb.net

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When I began grinding my coffee this morning, the grinder made an awful noise. I opened it up to find a small bean shaped stone mixed in with my semi-ground coffee.

Had I purchased this coffee at the supermarket or at a franchised coffee shop, I would have considered this to be an unacceptable lack of quality control. I would have taken it back to the store and demanded a refund. It would have felt dirty and I would have most likely switched brands of coffee. At least for a while. A negative experience all together, wouldn’t you agree?

Instead something quite different happened. I smiled. I didn’t get upset. I didn’t worry about the blades on my grinder. I just smiled, removed the tiny stone and proceeded to make a terrific cup of java. The reason I smiled was because of the original buying experience and the expectations that were created before I opened the bag.

This particular bag of coffee did not come from a factory. The packaging wasn’t sporting a famous brand name label. I bought it from a local roastery. The bag of beans was modestly labeled, “Fair Trade, Organic”. While standing in line at the counter, I remember looking at photos on display of Guatemalans hand sorting these coffee beans before export. I saw burlap bags of green coffee beans stacked in the corner. They were roasting espresso while I was there. I’ll never forget the aroma that followed me home. All of this leading to a positive buying experience that built trust. When I found this little stone, I completely understood how it found its way from a field to my coffee grinder.

Do your customers smile or frown when something unexpected comes up? If it’s the later, I invite you to add more transparency and authenticity to brand. It might be the difference between a happy pebble or a dirty rock.

{This article was written for the Shift+Refresh newletter, published every 2 weeks on topics of productivity, technology and design. If you like what you’ve read, subscribe here.}

Author: Arrick Garringer

Arrick Garringer is a Media Consultant at SpinWeb. background includes brand development, graphic design and creative consulting. In his spare time, Arrick enjoys his family, playing music and really strong coffee. Contact Arrick at arrick@spinweb.net or 317.324.1100.

While using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the other social media channels, it is important to think about your brand image and how it is perceived by others. For some reason, many fail to apply the same standards online as they would in a face-to-face setting. This can be a slippery slope towards leaving a negative impression, but there is a quick fix if you set your standards appropriately. Here are 3 tips to solidifying your brand image through social networking.

Appropriate Use of Imagery
There are many opportunities to use images within your social network. Oftentimes, this is the first thing people encounter while interacting with you online. Use a consistent profile picture (avatar) for all of your social networks. Don’t use that snapshot from 5 years ago. Invest in yourself by getting a professional portrait taken. If you have a team, have them all taken in the same style, by the same photographer, at the same time. Tools such as Facebook and Flicker can provide you the ability to share photos. Unless your business is goofy (like a clown or comedian), your pictures shouldn’t be. Always ask yourself, “Is this how want everyone to remember me?” Images of corporate events, team members or even products might be more appropriate.

Consistent Communications
Take a moment to re-read your content every once in a while. With certain tools like blogs and Twitter, you build a tone with each post. Read them out-loud to yourself in consecutive order. Do you sound like an authority in your industry or are you constantly complaining about things? It’s okay to be personable and real with your approach so long as it is in alignment with how you wish to be perceived. You should also find a routine that is realistic so people know what to expect from you. If you jump in once a month and blast everyone, it will feel like spam, but with a steady stream of touches, you will stay top of mind with those in your network.

Friends, Groups & Fan Pages
Social media allows for the creation of groups, friends, followers and fan pages. This organizes your connections and provides many easy ways to communicate with them simultaneously. If you create a group or fan page for your company or organization, be sure to brand it with your logo and fill the profile with pertinent information. Begin by inviting your employees and constituents and allow controlled growth from there. Remember that there is nothing wrong with being selective about your network. Don’t add friends just to add them. Add people who provide value to you or your group.

Spend some time reviewing your online presence and consider changes that will move you closer to your ultimate brand representation. This is a tremendous opportunity to share your brand with the world, but it may also open risks. Being mindful, consistent and selective, will leave the right impression on your audience every single time thus building a stronger brand.

{This article was written for the Shift+Refresh newletter, published every 2 weeks on topics of productivity, technology and design. If you like what you’ve read, subscribe here.}

Author: Arrick Garringer

Arrick Garringer is a Media Consultant at SpinWeb. background includes brand development, graphic design and creative consulting. In his spare time, Arrick enjoys his family, playing music and really strong coffee. Contact Arrick at arrick@spinweb.net or 317.324.1100.

If you are like many marketers, your decisions are based on what you’ve done in the past, what your competition is doing, or worse yet – you advertise because you feel like you “…just have to advertise.” There is a better way.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey writes that the ability to “Begin with the End in Mind” is one of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Where his concepts can be applied to many aspects of our personal and business life, I think this is an important one to embrace when marketing our businesses. Try using this simple 3-step approach to a goal-centered marketing campaign.

  • Identify a single goal. When planning your next campaign, be sure to ask, “What do we want to happen?” Some want the phone to ring. For someone in retail, it might be to get customers to the store. Regardless of the goal, you have to have one and it needs to be written down before any other work can begin. You only get one, so choose wisely. This will now become the focal point of the rest of your efforts.
  • Plot the best course. Now that we know where we’re going, we just have to find a path to get there. Spend some time researching all of your different media options. Talk to your advertising sales-representatives. Ask them each to put together a plan that uses their product to reach your goal. Spend some time online and talking with peers searching for innovative marketing tactics. Try not to dip into your old bag-of-tricks. Just because something worked last year doesn’t mean you should stop looking for something better.
  • Now go get it. Simply turn it on, sit back and most importantly, measure the results. You need to be able to report data with accuracy. Did you have an increase in sales? Did the phone ring more? How many new visitors came to your website? Use available technology and unique promotions to track behavior accurately. Ask your web developer for detailed reports to reinforce your findings.

Begin your next marketing adventure with the end in mind. You’ll find that starting with a clearly defined project goal will keep you on track and will lead you one step at a time toward marketing success.

Author: Arrick Garringer
Arrick Garringer is a Media Designer at SpinWeb. His background includes graphic design, brand development and marketing solutions. In his spare time, Arrick enjoys his family, playing music and really strong coffee. Contact Arrick at arrick@spinweb.net or 317.324.1100.

Appropriate media.

I drove past a funeral home yesterday. It’s on a busy crowded highway. Someone had the idea to put a flashing LED sign out front. Even better, the message on the screen was a cute sunshine guy with sunglasses saying, “Get Checked for Skin Cancer”. That might have worked for a Dermatologist Office….but a funeral home?

It almost felt like a threat. Were they really saying, “Get Checked, or You’ll End Up Here.” Remember, I was driving down a highway. All most people would have seen is; Funeral Home-Sun-Cancer. Do you think that’s the message they wanted to share?

Perhaps more appropriate would have been to ditch the blinking sign and install a beautiful water feature or butterfly garden in plain sight. Label it and market it appropriately. What’s appropriate for your product or service?

Remember, it’s not just the message that needs to be appropriate. If the delivery vehicle is inappropriate, your message will either be missed, or worse yet, misinterpreted.

-Arrick
arrick@arrickdesign.com

Starbucks LogosI saw this question online and couldn’t resist. The word “like” is so vague. As a marketer, I’m trained to flush my own opinions aside to ask, “Why did they do that?”. You see, branding isn’t based on likes or dislikes. It’s a systematic process that builds the big picture.

I can tell you what I don’t like about the cup that sports the new logo; it’s a yucky brown color, doesn’t seem to match the store as well, doesn’t look as cool in my car’s cup holder, etc. You can see there’s not much there other than MY opinions.

The one thing I’ll say about the logo that I think is important is what they’ve done to their logo—THEY CHANGED IT! They took some liberties with the art that I think might be a mistake. They actually added 2 words. Not 2 valuable words, 2 expected words that don’t need to be said. They tried to take a logo {which, by the way, is already retro in style} and add more retro to it….?

A logo is the most precious piece of marketing real estate that you have. Please treat it as such. It’s not the place to play around, change for the sake of changing and definitely fight the urge to “add-to” it. It’s human nature, but it weakens and clutters the communication. I say, save the throw-back logo variations for Ford, Coke and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Theirs are authentic.

With that said, the amount of “buzz” that this change created has definitely had an impact on Starbucks. Google it. There are thousands of posts {like this one} that have people talking about their product. They most likely won’t stick with the new design, but will use it to boost short-term awareness. I’m sure Starbucks {one of the founders of the modern “brand age”} has a strategy behind this.

-Arrick
arrick@arrickdesign.com

Meacham Funeral Service Logo

Take a look at this logo. Yeah, I know…pretty cool, huh? No really, did you know that there’s a story behind it?

Sure, it’s a palm leaf…but why? Chad Meacham actually brought this concept to the table. He told me that in his line of business, spirituality is on the surface and the palm leaf has several religious references. It is also globally symbolic of Victory, which is also appropriate.

“What’s with the square?” – The architecture of Mr. Meacham’s facility is based around a square motif. This is a very nice building that definitely stands out in his small town. The square in this logo is a window.

But wait…there’s more. Is there a light on in the window? What does a light mean to you in this context? Did the colors make you feel calm? Do you see an Angel’s wings?

Let’s talk type. MEACHAM is big, “Funeral Service” is little. No body “likes” the word Funeral. Isn’t “MEACHAM” the only thing that differentiates this one from all the other Funeral Homes?

I ask this question: “What’s the story behind your logo?” If you don’t have an answer that you’re proud to share, we should create one together.

-Arrick
arrick@arrickdesign.com