• bridgetbeckles@gmail.coom

Tag Archives: Branding

Google dispels notion of brand consistency

Bridget B. 3 comments

It’s been a minute [Ok, maybe it’s been a month… or two] since my last blog post. Time lapse aside, I really wanted to share my thoughts on Google’s umpteenth transformation.

I am almost certain that many of us have not noticed the incremental changes Google has been making to its logo over the years; a smidgen here and a smidgen there. They’ve tried different colours, they’ve changed fonts, they’ve added things and subtracted things. Today, they have made yet another transformation.

 

The first thing I thought when I saw their post on Instagram was: “Google is certainly dispelling this notion of brand consistency”. Think about it.

Since the beginning of “branding”, we’ve seen the great pride organizations, companies, corporations and people on the whole, take in maintaining their brand identity. Marketers and brand managers invest enormous amounts of resources in ensuring that the company’s font or logo looks exactly the same every and anywhere it can be seen. It must always be consistent.

With the continuos changes Google makes to its brand, I have to ask: What really defines the brand?

I think Google has clearly shown that their brand is far more than the six colorful letters we’ve grown accustomed to. They’ve in fact shown us, their brand is their reputation. Think about it. [Yes I’m asking for a lot of thinking today :-)]

Google has never been one for much frill.The actual search page is quite frankly a blank sheet with a box for entering text. Look at all of their apps–simple. The thing that has given strength to the Google brand is their reliability, their consistency, their quality. Their strength comes from their reputation.

As small business owners, consultants and independent professionals, we have to think about the strength of our brand–not in terms of brand consistency–in terms of brand reputation.

What do your clients, business partners or investors think about you? What are their experiences with your brand? Do they associate you and your brand with reliability, consistency or quality?

Let’s take a page from Google’s book–let the strength of your brand be synonymous with the strength of your reputation.

Tips on how stand out as a professional

Bridget B. No Comments

Recently I had a conversation with some friends about the importance of networking. Now I am not referring to ‘social’ networking on Facebook and LinkedIn, but rather actual mingling with real people in a physical setting, exchanging business cards and such. Networking provides a great opportunity for us to form connections with others in our industry, form potential business partnerships or just get our name out there.

At this point I would like to make a disclaimer: I am horrible at networking. Something about walking up to complete strangers, and starting a random conversation, just does not happen naturally for me.  

Disclaimer aside, I do encourage you all to brush up on your networking skills, if you are not already good at it. The thing about networking though, it does not only take place at a fancy “Networking event”, it can happen ANYWHERE. Remember, it’s all about building relationships. It can happen in public transport, the grocery, the bank or whilst sitting at the hairdresser or barber. You can meet people everywhere!

Question is, do we start rambling on about ourselves or our businesses every time we meet a new person? You can, but that may come off a bit presumptuous. Here are a few tips on how you can make the most of those planned or unplanned networking opportunities and stand out as a professional.

1. Prepare your elevator speech

We’ve all heard about it (well at least I hope that we’ve all heard). They say (I really don’t know who “they” is) that you should have a prepared statement about yourself which you should be able to say in the time it takes to ride between floors in an elevator. How arbitrary right?

The point is that you need to be able to introduce yourself to someone, getting in all the salient points, in a very short time frame. You do not want to exhaust them with a long history about how you got into your line of work. This is what I came up with for myself:

Hello, I’m Bridget. I am currently a graduate student but I also offer independent services in Integrated Marketing Communication.

It’s not perfect, but it’s short, to the point and accurate. Your elevator speech is something that you can practice and tweak until you think you’ve got it right.

2. Get a business card and take it with you everywhere

If you meet someone whom you think will make a good connection, present them with your business card. How about giving it to them right after you deliver your elevator speech? Say something simple like “Let’s keep in touch” or “I’d like to chat with you some more”. Presenting someone with your card usually prompts them to also present you with theirs (once they have one).

Many people do not realize that it is quite simple to make your own business card. Before you go pulling out the arts and craft supplies, this is not a DIY project 🙂 . There are many online services that allow you to create a professional looking business card by simply entering your personal information onto a generalized template. Vistaprint is where I had mine done.

Make sure that your business card is representative of you or your business.

3. Dress the part

If you are self-employed or a small business owner, you are always on the job. Not literally, but you have to accept that you may meet a potential client or business partner in any setting. Therefore, it is important to always look your best. Of course “your best” is subjective, but the idea here is simply to present yourself in such a manner that will not detract from what you have to offer.

4. Watch what you say on social media

I don’t know about you, but when I meet someone that I am interested in connecting with I head to the Internet. Sometimes I start with a simple Google search and then I click on every open social media account that comes up. If you don’t do it, you better believe that someone has done it to you.

People always want to know more. They want to see what you say online, they want to see what kind of photos you post, they even want to see who else you are connected with. Make sure that your online behavior can’t come back to haunt you.

This is all I have for now, but as I continue to navigate the waters of my professional life, I’ll be sure to update this post with any other tips that I think may come in handy.

Share some of your own tips in the comments section below.

Toodles! 🙂

What’s your PR style?

Bridget B. No Comments

PR

In my last blog post Proof Before You Post, I mentioned that your organization’s stakeholders (clients, potential customers, investors, partners) will have most of their interaction with you or your brand via published words. By “published words” I mean; your website or blog, your business card, your Facebook page or even your Tweets. Have you considered what you have been portraying about your brand through these mediums?

Is your website cluttered? Or is it minimalistic? Do you post multiple times a day on your Facebook page or do you post one vague status per week? Is your Twiitter language passive or aggressive? What kind of colours do you use for your brand? Did you print your business card on rigid board or a floppy type of paper?

I’m currently working with a baby & kids boutique, one of the first things I noted was that the business did not have any clear “trademark”; no brand colour, font style, or even consistent language. If you were to Google a big brand like Coca Cola, you will notice that their branding (colour and language) is consistent across platforms. That is, if you are looking at their Facebook Page, Instagram or Twitter accounts, you will always know which company’s profile you’re on.

So if you haven’t quite figured out your ‘Style’, do some research on different brands or businesses that are in your industry. Pay close attention to how they have positioned themselves. As you look at more websites, blogs and social media profiles, you will eventually come up with your own way of doing things.

Keep in mind that your personal style may not be the best fit for your business. As you determine your business’s PR Style, you will create a footprint that is uniquely yours. Don’t be afraid to try varied styles until you find what suits you best.

Proof Before You Post

Bridget B. 1 Comments

I often share articles and posts by other individuals and organizations, that I think would be of value to individuals in the PR & Communication industry as well as those who who need to learn about it.  This morning I saw a tweet with a link to an article with some PR tips. While I instinctively wanted to re-tweeet and then read the article a little later, I had somehow decided that I would click on the link and read the article just to make sure that the content actually addressed the article’s title in the tweet.

Much to my dismay, the article had many spelling and grammatical errors. Now this was posted by an organization that offers PR/ communications services. While I am not writing this post to highlight the grammatical misfortunes of the organization or the author of the article, I do wish to emphasize the significance of proof reading any sort of written work before making it public; Proof Before You Post.

Now, I do not claim to be a master of the english language, as a matter of fact, spelling has been and continues to be a sore thumb for me. However, my spelling inadequacies is no reason for me to publish a blogpost with incorrectly spelt words.

DISCLAIMER: I am a Trinidadian graduate student who was taught the “Queen’s English” and now studies in the US. Put simply, I am in the process of changing my spelling from British English to American English. Why there is even British and American spelling? I don’t know. People say the American’s like to do things their own way! Who knows! *shrugs*

We must always be aware of our writing; some people may be great at coming up with content, but their writing may not be the best. The situation can also be reversed, know how to use your skills.

Poor writing can actually reduce confidence in your brand, service or product. It can put doubt in the mind of the reader. It prompts the questions: If they cannot even spell, then how will they properly service me? How do they do business? Are these people professionals?

It is important to recognize that the content in any document, article, post or website that bears your company’s name or logo, is a direct representation of your business. Your stakeholders will have more interaction with your organization via published words rather than a spoken conversation.

So, how do you avoid this public embarrassment? You proof read. It is a simple process that many take for granted. Re reading your writing before it goes public, is one of the best ways to mitigate publishing errors.

  • It is also a good idea to have someone else read the article; a fresh pair of eyes may pick up on things that the writer may have overlooked. A second reader will also give you the opportunity to ensure that your writing effectively conveys your desired message.
  • Another good habit to develop is reading over the article or post even after it is published. Sometimes, as you read your post through the eyes of a random visitor to your website or blog, you pick up on little things that can be changed to make the article easier to read and digest. Pay special attention to punctuation; specifically the use of commas and periods.
  • Make sure that you use words in context by checking words in a dictionary or thesaurus.

Remember that there is no one way to  write, write the way that you like to write. Just make sure that when your’e done, what you’ve written is creating the impression that you intended to create and conveys the message that you want to convey.

Here are a couple helpful tips I found at PR Daily:
15 tips to make the writing process less hellish

Strictly Business

Bridget B. No Comments

One of my main considerations when I included the social media icons on my personal website was, whether or not to link them with my already existing social accounts.

Many individuals who start up small businesses, consultancy firms or non-profits, tend to use their ‘friend list’ as the capital investment into followers, page likes and such. While it may be a good place to start, it is certainly nowhere to remain.

Social Media has become this virtual “soap box” that all and sundry uses to air their personal views (or rantings) on topics that are usually dear to their hearts. However, our personal opinions should not be imposed on our customers, clients, business partners, investors and the like.

It is important to keep it ‘strictly business’ when dealing with audiences in the cyber world. If not, there is the risk of some stakeholders becoming turned off of our brand because they may have contradicting views.

Here are a few tips on managing your online presence with some of the more popular social platforms:

1. Facebook – Create a Facebook business page and invite your friends to like it. Moving forward, use the page for all communication with stakeholders. If someone messages you on your personal profile, it is ok to politely ask them to contact you via the business page. With the Facebook Pages Manager app for mobile devices, it is very easy to maintain communication without having to log out of you personal profile.

2. Twitter – Since there is the option to add multiple Twitter accounts on mobile devices, I would suggest creating a dedicated Twitter account for your business. Twitter is a great way to interact with stakeholders as millions of people tweet everyday. A dedicated Twitter account will help to strengthen your brand’s presence.

3.  LinkedIn – A different approach can be used with LinkedIn since it is a professional network, especially if you have a small business and want to establish personal connections with business partners or investors.  Feel free to add your LinkedIn badge to your company page, but be mindful of the kind of content you post; include any relevant academic qualifications, detail projects you have worked and even describe your business. LinkedIn can be thought of as your online business card or resumé.

Now that you have an idea of how to manage your online presence, choose the social platforms that you think will be of the most benefit to your business.

Remember, keep it strictly business!

1

About Blog

I blog about communication and marketing strategies for small businesses, consultants and non-profits. I am specifically interested in how digital communication can be used to improve organizational reputation and growth of the business.

Subscribe to Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

I'd love to hear from you

Would you like to work together, learn more about me or simply talk about the industry? Send me a message and be sure to link up with me on social media. Thanks for visiting!