If your business has an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft, Google is giving away its Apps for Work suite for the agreement duration (It’s only $5 to $10 a month per user afterwards). Want to get started? Let us know!
The days when print design principles guided digital design are over. The web and online media have come into their own as communications venues – and as such have broken free from print conventions like “below the fold” and the idea that fewer words are better. In fact, digital design often takes a dramatic departure from print because of the way people use it, which is exactly what drives the latest digital design trends. But it isn’t just about looks as you’ll see in our latest white paper. Function, hardware, and user expectations are also big components.
For example, did you know that audiences seeking education would typically rather read one long scrollable page of content as opposed to clicking or swiping a series of pages? Or, were you aware that overall sales go up considerably when there’s one-touch purchasing? These situations and others like them are all being addressed by today’s digital designers with some interesting solutions. Streamlined icons, clear-backgrounds on buttons and links, active imagery, multiple routes to complete the same action, intuitive menus and navigations, app design, and more.
We’ve been helping clients realize the tools and trends that can influence the way their brands interact with online audiences – across industries as varied as health and medicine, to interior design, to printing technology and more. See the latest trends here to see more of what’s happening in the world of digital design.
Dear Clients and Friends,
It used to be that people went to the internet for anonymity… but increasingly, it’s becoming where brands and companies are being exposed to reputation-damaging hacks, accusations, and more. And, if you or your firm participate on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Snapchat, and other social media platforms, your exposure is even wider. Every piece of content (or micro-content) can be picked up and indexed by search engines – presenting unfavorable information to potential consumers that may decide against using your products or services. What used to be a simple public relations and marketing challenge has now become a complex digital task – online reputation management.
Your brand’s reputation is almost like a living thing… it grows, it expands, it travels, it interacts with people… and most importantly, it needs your care to be healthy and prosperous. At Kompani Group, we take online presence (both perceived and actual) very seriously, which is why we’re always evaluating and implementing the latest tools and technologies available for this task. See some of our top recommendations for social media management in our latest white paper.
Even if you’re effectively using your resources to stay connected to your audience, your reputation can all fall apart if your messaging isn’t aligned with your brand. Sometimes it takes a neutral third party (like us) to give you a bit of real-world perspective and help you evaluate the results of your online efforts. Want a few helpful hints to get started? See our white paper for three guidelines to strong-yet-smart messaging.
Ready to take things further? Get in touch with us today to start looking deeper into your online reputation and turn it into your strongest brand asset.
In military maneuvers, being able to anticipate the competition’s next move before it happens and then positioning your own forces, is what wins battles. Commanders who win are usually the ones that have seen the most varied assortment of battles. They know what enemy tactics look like earlier than most, and they’ve also likely been a foot soldier in the counter attack.
It’s not all that different in business. Those that are the best at overcoming challenges and taking leadership positions are those who have had the most opportunities to practice it. Unfortunately, not all companies are in a field that presents that on a day-to-day basis. Yet, it’s still necessary for those wishing to get ahead.
Identifying the Optimization Gap
Think of what you do most in your business… the one task that occupies the majority of your time. Maybe it’s answering emails. Or it might be fielding customer service calls. You may even be in the fortunate position where your whole team is working as hard as they can to crank out as many widgets as possible in order to meet demand. All of these are situations that can be improved by business optimization but none of those tasks actually requires a huge shift in the way you operate to simply handle the immediate responsibility.
This creates a gap between what needs to be done right now and what could be done in the future. Even more importantly, it also leaves a gap between recognizing what’s working for you today and what might cease working for you in weeks, months, or years to come. Don’t get us wrong, a clean inbox is great, just like happy customers, and delivery trucks full of widgets… but what happens when the inbox never gets full, customers simply stop calling, and delivery trucks go empty. Optimization is the bridge over that very scary cliff.
So Why Isn’t It Simpler?
That’s the thing about Optimization… there’s no “finish line” that signals you’ve reached the end of how great your business can be. The good news is that tactics and methodologies aimed at optimization always leaves a trail. When a business is working from an improve-and-enhance standpoint, every move is logical and orderly. From the outside it may look like everything’s “easy” for that company – like they knew something no one else did. And in many ways, it’s true. They made the decision not to knee-jerk react to challenges as they came up, but instead, anticipate them… much like a Commander going to war. The absence of that approach leaves telltale signs too – meandering sales and revenue numbers, difficulty forecasting, and a track record of business-building initiatives that stop almost as soon as they start.
That’s Where Kompani Group Steps In
As experienced Business Optimizers, we’re sort of a “Commander On Demand.” Present your situation to us, and we’ll tell you the battles you can expect, the weapons already at your disposal to put up a strong fight, and what tactics or ‘big guns’ you might need to ensure victory. In some cases, we may even take the Sun Tzu path and let you know when it’s time to avoid a fight (such as letting two competitors battle over price while you make a stand for quality).
To take a closer look at our Business Optimization Philosophy and expertise, check out our white paper on the subject. Or review our Case Studies to see our holistic approach in action. You can even review our brochure, to see the tools we’re using to bring optimization to the foundation of our services.
If you’ve had the presence of mind to trademark your business name or logo then congratulations – you’ve already taken the first step in protecting your brand’s assets. If not – let’s back up a second. Why Not? Many people mistakenly believe that trademarking is either terribly expensive or simply unnecessary, and neither could be further from the truth.
Claim What’s Yours.
Would you leave your name off the title to your house, your car, your credit card? Not that most legal entities would allow you to do so, but clearly you can relate to the idea of not wanting other people to claim what’s rightfully yours. If you’ve worked hard to build a business and a brand, would you want someone else to come along and steal your customer base by using the same name and a similar logo? Customers may not notice the difference right away and think that you’ve expanded… when in fact they’re patronizing another company. What’s worse, if you’ve got a great reputation with your customers and this “copycat company” comes along and delivers a poor brand experience, you’ll be guilty by association. Trademarking your business name, logo, and identity are smart ways to avoid that problem.
How do I GET a Trademark?
Well, you can start by using an experienced branding company. At Kompani Group we research names and logo suggestions well in advance of any implementation to make sure no other companies exist that are already using the same (or a similar) name. We search locally, regionally, and nationally to ensure you’re as unique as possible. The more unique you are, the more likely your trademark application will be approved. We cross reference our research against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is the federal government body that assigns all ™ , ®, and ℠ marks. The ™ , and ℠ signify trademarks that have submitted an application for registration, while the ® shows that the application has been successful and the name/logo/or other brand element has been assigned to that one business entity.
While the application itself is not expensive, it takes experience to know about various categories and divisions that apply to your business. This is what makes it possible for Delta Airlines and Delta Faucets to both be in business – they are registered in different categories and there is little to no chance that anyone would confuse airplanes and faucets. So too, your restaurant idea name may indeed be the same as a kids toy, but it’s unlikely customers will think your food establishment is selling toys. An experienced branding firm can also help you consider what categories you may expand to over time so you don’t run into an issue if your restaurant does one day expand to a bed and breakfast, or even a resort destination.
How does a Trademark stop others from copying my ideas?
In the early days of your brand assets, consistently using ™ , ®, and ℠ show other businesses that you’re serious about your brand and that you intend to protect it. This is often enough to keep would-be copycats from attempting to pass off your brand assets as their own. After a year or so of consistent use, unless you’re in a competitive field for brand assets like pharmaceuticals, you should be able to continue using your brand without the additional marks. That’s because trademarking offers you defendable protection for your brand.
By trademarking your brand assets you’ve established a timeline in federal court of your use of the brand. This will make it very difficult (if not impossible) for any company to continue using your brand without your permission. You may even be entitled to financial compensation from the copycat to make up for any lost business or damage to your brand.
However, you may be leaving other important assets unprotected if you think trademark protection only extends to company names and logos.
What else can be trademarked?
Individual product lines, manufacturing processes, services, service techniques, and other proprietary assets of your business can also be considered intellectual property, and are therefore entitled to protection from other companies wishing to claim those assets as their own. So even if you’ve trademarked your company name (in this case let’s say ANYCO®), a competitor could “steal” your SilverStar Service Guarantee if you didn’t trademark it as well.
The process for filing for additional trademarks is the same as any other trademark. Begin with a search on USPTO.gov to see if your product or service is already in use or trademarked by someone else. If that’s clear then you can start evaluating whether you’re indeed trademarking a product, or a service.
Product… Service… What’s the Difference?
As far as legal protection is concerned, there is no difference between a trademark and a service mark. In fact, once the registration of your trademark is established, there is no visible difference whatsoever. Your registered product or service will have the ® symbol next to it when used in public. In the meantime, you’ll be using the ™ symbol for products and items, and the ℠ mark for services and processes. The only thing you must be able to prove is that your product or service is, indeed, unique to your business. Perhaps you hold a patent for a particular item. Or maybe you’ve revolutionized the quality control process in a way that’s different from all other businesses in your industry… those would be excellent candidates for trademarking.
Of course, we can help you identify those assets – and help you understand how to better navigate the registration process.
Contact us to get started protecting all your company’s competitive advantages.
When cattlemen first started branding cattle, they chose a mark that was uniquely theirs and easy to recognize – hence how the idea of the logo made it to modern-day marketing. But the more important thing to know about those very first cattle brands was that they were deeply personal to the ranches they represented. And that’s a lesson that applies to modern-day branding as well. Your company’s brand isn’t just a logo – it’s everything you stand for – every interaction you have internally and with your customers. It’s every piece of marketing material. It’s your internal training program. It’s the slogan on the company field day t-shirt.
Brands Begin with People.
Think of the most iconic brands in the world – Nike, Coca-Cola, Disney. Have you ever wondered how they’ve built such incredibly strong brands? Sure, they’ve spent a lot of money on advertising, media, and design to make sure they’re seen and recognized, but nearly everyone can agree there’s more to those brands than just their presence. People identify with these brands. Often, they’re fiercely loyal and devoted to those brands. Rest assured, it’s not by accident. The world’s strongest brands live their brand essence every day, every moment, and with every customer and client interaction – not because they have to – but because they can’t imagine doing business any other way.
And that’s the secret… Brands don’t direct how businesses operate. It’s the way businesses act that define who they are as brands. Nike didn’t just decide one day they wanted to stand for victory – they were already doing it through gear and apparel that was making a difference in the way athletes perform. Disney didn’t wish to be associated with magic – they were making magic happen every second a person walked through their parks, sat down at one of their movies, or played with one of their toys.
So How Should You Build Your Brand?
Begin by asking yourself what you’re already doing well. Then ask yourself how much benefit there might be in doing that one thing even better. What does your internal team believe in? What inspires them? What do your most loyal customers say about you? These are more integral to your brand than you might think. Why? Because trust matters when it comes to brand loyalty. If Coca-Cola positioned it’s brand as a health beverage – do you think it’d help sales, or hurt them? Even if someone knew nothing about the brand before, results can’t be denied. So if you can’t fulfill your brand’s promise you’re not doing yourself or your business any favors. Sure, you may get a modest initial lift from a new brand image – but when people feel duped, they’re not going to come back to the brand a second or third time.
Kompani Group Creates Compelling Brands
When we begin the branding (or re-branding) process we start by going deep. We’ll look inside your business and reveal things you may not have even known about yourself. It’s an objective third-party perspective on what your company is and what your company could be. We ask the questions that reveal all the answers you never knew you had… the result is a Brandmap.
Think about that for a minute – an actual “map” of your brand, just as though it was a technical schematic. You won’t just know “what” you offer potential customers, but also the all-important “how” and “why” consumers should choose you over a competitor. It’s quite literally operating instructions for how to build your brand, and it considers your industry, your competitive landscape, your product/service, and every way you communicate or interact with the world.
This approach has taken brand-new brands like Blooms by Heinau from start-up obscurity to a recognized brand that was recently featured on The Today Show. We’ve also helped an established clean energy provider refocus their brand on their key market – Solar. We not only renamed the company to DCE Solar, but also helped realign all their brand assets, logos, imagery, tagline, and more.
Make sure your website is set up for Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm
There’s a change going on in web design right now – and the shift is caused by the growing use of mobile devices to access web content. What used to be fundamental truths about navigation, font size, page layout, and more are rapidly vanishing in favor of more fluid design. With this in mind – Google has started evaluating mobile usage as part of its search engine rankings. Users searching for a resource from a mobile device will automatically receive mobile-friendly sites higher-up in their search results.
Here’s a list of the four most common issues you should be aware of:
- Viewport not configured / Fixed-width viewport
- Touch elements too close
- Small font size
- Content not sized to viewport
So why is Google doing this? Quite simply, they want to remain the gold standard in internet search. If users keep finding themselves at unusable or inconvenient sites, they may cease using Google for future searches.
How should you Respond? The answer is in the question itself. Make your website more responsive. If you’ve spent time and resources towards SEO and search engine rankings – your hard work could be for nothing if mobile users can’t (or won’t) use your site. Google has even provided a guide to mobile-friendly sites and there’s a mobile-friendly test.
In a world that is increasingly relying upon abbreviations and acronyms to streamline communication, it can be easy to forget that content is still what drives site traffic and web presence. In fact, any smart SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy will make use of HTML (HyperText Markup Language) text as its foundation. Since graphics don’t communicate as words to search engine indexing programs and abbreviations don’t always reflect the way people search, actual relevant content filled with words is the most reliable way to present yourself or your company as an SME (Subject Matter Expert). Want to learn more? See our most recent free report on the subject.