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4 Ways To Safeguard Your Brand

4 Ways To Safeguard Your Brand

1. Get a Trademark

An essential but often overlooked step to establishing your business ownership is to register a trademark. A trademark is whatever represents your brand in the industry. It can be a logo, slogan, product name or even a color.

As noted on the Government of Canada, a registration “provides proof of ownership, provides you with licensing opportunities to maximize your trademark’s commercial potential and protects your trademark’s value.” You will need to pay a fee and renew it regularly, but it’s a relatively simple step that can save you from many headaches in the future should anything go awry.

You’re likely very familiar with Apple. Did you know that before Apple formed, there was already an Apple brand? In 1978, Apple Corp (a music company founded by the Beatles) sued Apple Computer for trademark infringement. In 1981 the case was settled, with Apple agreeing to avoid the music industry. Obviously, that didn’t happen! And as a result, there were some hefty fines and restrictions incurred.

It takes a minimum of 2 years to start a trademark process. We recommend starting right away so that no one snatches up the biz name or slogan you spent hours brainstorming! It’s sad, but true…there have been some businesses that possessed their company name years before another company decided to trademark it. The original owners lost because they couldn’t afford the high court fees necessary to prove original ownership. Don’t let this happen to you!

It’s free to search for your desired trademark. Either call or do a web search  to ensure your desired name and icons are not already being used.

Getting a trademark is comparable to having car insurance. You never expect to get in a car accident, but you’re not going to risk getting into an accident without coverage.

2. Get Your Copyright

In contrast to a trademark (protection of a unique mark for your business), a copyright protects the work of the author. This can be a graphic, website, or play, for example. The copyright protection is immediate–as soon as the project has begun. Although a registration is not necessary, it’s highly recommended to ensure no one steals your work. A visible copyright symbol © is a simple way to show the world that it is your original work.

To register your copyright, check out the Government of Canada Copyright page.

3. Use Commercially Licensed Assets Only

stock images

Image by Cottonbro

There are two predominant types of licensing available—personal and commercial. A personal license allows you to use resources for personal projects only—for instance, wall décor in your home, a family invitation, etc. A commercial license is designed for business owners to use a product legally. There is typically a cost involved to support the original creator.

So should I buy out all my brand assets? While it may sound like a prudent move, it’s unnecessary and would likely cost you a good deal of time and money. For commercial assets, read the fine print on how an asset can be used. For instance, an image purchased through Adobe Stock can be used on a sale flyer but cannot be reproduced in any way for resale (i.e. you can’t include a stock image in your art and then sell it on Etsy).

4. Use Original Design Work from Ethical Sources

artist

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

After you’ve done your due diligence in picking out a unique brand name, you’re ready to enter the design phase. The design phase includes your logo, colour palette, illustrations, and fonts handpicked to embody your brand. It is easier than you would think to fall into copyright infringement, intentional or not.

According to The Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Copyright is the exclusive legal right to produce, reproduce, publish or perform an original literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work. The creator is usually the copyright owner.”

How do I know my assets are all ethically obtained? The best way is to choose a trustworthy designer skilled in creating custom artwork for all your branding needs. Always try to pin down the origin of your fonts, photos, and illustrations. Ensure proper permissions are acquired.

Your brand assets are invaluable and worth protecting. Taking the steps needed to safeguard your business brand will require some time and money but the payoff of credibility and peace of mind makes it a worthwhile investment.

What is Branding?

What is Branding?

Coca-Cola, Nestle, Starbucks, Pepsi…what do these companies all have in common? There’s a high chance you consume at least one of these products and it’s not just because they taste good. The products are highly successful because they have mastered the art of branding.

Take Coca-Cola for instance. Their ads seem to always evoke feelings of warmth and optimism. In the commercials, you see families and friends gathered, bottle of Coca-Cola in hand.

In one the most famous commercials of all time (1971 Coca Cola commercial), we see a group of people singing “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” Coca Cola has always relied on the marketing approach of evoking a positive, carefree vibe for its customers. It’s an effective approach as it is a beverage of choice in many family gatherings, parties and restaurants.

In our increasingly competitive business market, we all want our company to stand out and be recognized in a sea of other businesses offering similar products and services.

You’ve probably heard the term “branding” used frequently to describe a company’s brand style, but what exactly is it?/

Entreprenuer.com defines branding as “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”

Put into simple terms, a brand is your company’s personality: who you are and how others perceive you. It is what sets you apart from your competitors. Your consumers develop a sense of what to expect from your product or services based on the values and qualities you choose to communicate in your design, slogan and marketing campaigns.

For instance, if you are a daycare provider, you may opt to style your marketing material with bright colors, playful fonts and simple illustrations to characterize your business as a place for children. Your slogan is “Providing a Safe Place for Children to Grow.” Naturally, you will make it clear to your prospects that your daycare teachers are CPR certified and provide continual video monitoring to ease the concerns of the child’s parent.

On the other hand, if you are an attorney, you will likely go for a more sleek and professional look using neutral colors like gray, navy or crimson red.

In branding, your goal is to solve a problem or fulfill a need specific to your target audience. There are multiple ways and styles of doing this. Do your research and decide what approach will work for your unique clientele. Remember Corona’s “Find Your Beach” commercials? They  offer their consumers a much needed escape from work. Then you have the famous Nike swoosh “Just Do it” intended to motivate you to workout and purchase their line of athletic apparel. Different approaches work for different companies.

Effective Branding will..

Make a clear statement about you

  • Make you appear trustworthy
  • Provide an emotional connection to your customer
  • Motivate your buyers to make a purchase
  • Promote customer loyalty

branding

Ready To Get Started? 

Here is a step by step process to help make you a branding rock star…

Step 1: Identify your business objective. Be as specific as possible about what you wish to accomplish in your business and develop a company mission.

Step 2: Research, research, research. Who are you competitors? What are they doing right? Don’t reinvent the wheel, but also keep your brand unique.

Step 3: Decide your marketing style. Is your jewelry line going to have an elegant, upscale look to appeal to white collar professional woman? Or are you an up-and-coming video game store appealing to college students with an edgy grunge look?

Step 4: Write out your goals. Decide the step-by-step process of how you will create your brand. Do you have a logo? What social media accounts will you primarily use to market yourself? Does the style of your website reflect the style of your brand? What are your budget goals?

Step 5: Maintenance Mode It’s easy to get off track and focus on your immediate tasks, but it’s vital that you keep on top of your brand strategy. You may have to take a step back and re-evaluate your current marketing approach. Decide what’s working for you and what’s not.

This a great starting point and should be reevaluated periodically to ensure your business success. If you are unsure, you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you work out the details. As tempting as it may be to jump into the launching of your brand, it is wise to plan strategically so that you have a firm foundation.

Das Studio Ecommerce Importance

Das Studio Ecommerce Importance

Understanding the effects of COVID-19 on businessess

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting businesses, large and small, across the world. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported that 92% of small businesses were negatively affected by the epidemic.

It is drastically changing the way we shop and do business—from essential to nonessential items. As safety measures have come into place, many business owners have had to shut down temporarily or even permanently.

Amid the seclusion and ambiguity, we find a drastic change in the way people purchase items. Many buy in bulk to prepare for the worst. There’s an increase in online shopping, as customers feel safer receiving orders at their front doors versus jam-packed stores.

Even before the Covid-19 outbreak occurred, online purchases have become quite popular (Hello, Amazon Prime). It’s just so easy to do a product search, check reviews, then type in credit card info without batting an eye. It wouldn’t be surprising if e-commerce purchasing continues to rise even after the pandemic is over.

Rather than bemoan the shift in the business market tide, why not rise above it?

Maintain your business and thrive

Here are some ways you can maintain your business and even thrive in the face of uncertainty.

1. Create a landing page with a sign-up form to stay in touch with your customers. Share this link across your social platforms or through email.

2. Start an e-commerce site and sell your products online. You could even offer gift cards for buyers to purchase now and use later when life becomes “normal” again.

3. Ignite your social media presence through your platforms of choice. Don’t just start up a Facebook page with a few posts here and there and expect a following. Regularly update and provide new, informative messages that will engage your audience.

Whatever direction you decide to go, stick to the course and don’t give up. Allow this change to grow you and your business. You may have to switch up your online approach a few times before you find what works. Ultimately, you know your customers best.

As Helen Keller wrote, “a bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.”

 

Contact us if we can help you in your online business journey.
Why Invest In Professional Branding

Why Invest In Professional Branding

Is your brand communicating correctly? Are you leaving a positive, lasting impression?

Your brand is the most critical business asset because it represents how you look to your clients and associates.  Your business card, website, or social media page may be the only visual a prospect has of your business.

Whether you like it or not, how you represent your business in your branding can either excite or thwart your potential clients.

Say, for instance, a prospective client finds your website on Google and sees that the logo is pixelated and stretched out. Worse yet, the background is black, making the text a headache to read. You can be sure they will find another business prospect. By having an old site you communicate that you are an amateur and not committed to keeping up with the times. You could be attracting a client that is only interested in the cheapest rate!

Conversely, having a fresh & modern-looking brand will attract clients that appreciate quality service and are willing to compensate for it.

That first impression has a profound effect on human behaviour. It can make or break their decision to give your product or services a shot.

Consequently, it’s fair to say, your brand in the most important investment you can make for your company.

It’s not just extra fluff to consider buying after your business is a raging success. It is a precursor to that success. Invest in your brand now (among many other things) you will find that it will pay off now and in the years to come.


Here are 5 reasons you should invest in professional branding:

1. You appeal to the best customers

In brand research, you pinpoint who your customers are (personality, demographics, likes and dislikes) then determine how to reel them in using marketing that is specific to their needs and wants. Don’t try to market to everyone. That is a guaranteed fail.

Determine your target audience and you’ll find customers loyal to your brand that don’t need to shop around when everything they want is in front of them. They may even vouch for you, bringing in additional business to you as their connections about your amazing products or services.

2. Stay Competitive

Think about who your biggest competitors are. Chances are they have made a significant investment in their branding. They know it will yield a return on their business and understand the connection between strategic design and more sales. Got competitors with fugly marketing? Gain the upper edge and be the envy of your competition.

3. Save Time and $ on Marketing

When you take the time to develop a unified, strategic design, it makes those marketing campaigns much more effective. Instead of wasting money on multiple failed marketing attempts, nail your next marketing endeavour in one campaign as you appeal to your target audience.

Having a consistent brand brings brand loyalty. The brand becomes recognizable and memorable. In contrast, not having a consistent brand can result in wasted marketing dollars.

4. Look Credible

You’ve got a fantastic product or service. That’s a great start, but it is only the first step on your journey to business success! You also need a brand and marketing strategy that makes you look like an expert to the people you want to do business with. Sure, you can find someone to throw together a $5 cookie-cutter logo. You might be able to get by for a little while. On the other hand, having a well-crafted, custom design from the very beginning will ensure a much smoother pathway to success. A professional brand makes you look like a professional. Do you want to look like a phony or the real deal?

5. More Sales

Imagine you are a real estate agent trying to sell a lovely five-bedroom house with a massive porch overlooking the lake. Your client is excited about the gorgeous view, new appliances and open floorplan. Now imagine trying to sell a modest three-bedroom home built in the ’90s to that same client. It has a boxy layout, used appliances and a view of the neighbour’s yard. Not so much enthusiasm, eh? It’s the same concept as your brand. Having a clean, attractive brand that appeals to your target clients is going to create far more interest than a dull and outdated one.

Over time, brand designs change. Trends come and go. But a strategically planned logo is virtually unchanged. Consider the Coca-Cola logo, for instance. The original design from 130 years ago is strikingly similar to what it is today.

Think of some of the biggest name companies–Mercedes-Benz, Under Armor, Starbucks—to name a few. Do they sell the best products? Or, are they marking gurus that know precisely how appeal to their consumers, using the right words and the right graphics? We’ll let you decide.

Who is My Target Audience?

Who is My Target Audience?

Think You’re ready to launch your business? But have no clue who your target audience is? Slow down. You don’t want to miss this important, and overlooked step selling your products or services.
It should be one of the first things to consider when starting your biz.

“Defining your target market is one of a marketer’s most important tasks. It’s the foundation of all elements of your marketing strategy, from how you develop and name your products or services right through to the marketing channels you use to promote them.” Christina Newberry, Hootsuite.

You wouldn’t fire a gun without aiming at your target. It’s the same way with distinguishing your target audience. It’s impossible to appeal to everyone, and if you try to please everyone, you’ll waste valuable time and money.
Invest some time honing in on who you think would be your typical customer using your products or services. As you get a clearer picture of who your target audience is, you’ll find an increase in your conversion rate.

So how do I determine who my target audience is?

Break it down to these demographics:

  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Job description
  • Location

For example, say you are a massage therapist, consider a typical client. A middle-aged (40-50 age range) divorced woman who works full time as an RN, has grown children, loves to scrapbook and lives in the suburbs of Toronto.
Get super detailed about these characteristics. The more you know your audience, the better you will be in tailoring your marketing campaigns to appeal to them.

Once you’ve established these characteristics, identify his or her pain points.

There’s a good chance she deals with pressure and emotional stress working in the medical field. She works long hours, is on her feet all day and suffers from back pain with the constant bending over and lifting she does for her patients.
She would be the perfect candidate for a 60-minute deep tissue massage.

The next step is determining what will convince this person to buy from you.

This middle-aged nurse, we’ll call her Diana, already has a massage therapist she has been going to for years. What do you have to offer that the current massage therapist lacks? Your competitor is a massage therapist who works at a spa, 10 miles away from Diana’s house. Diana often misses her massage appointments with her busy schedule. But you provide in-home massages at an affordable price. Diana saves both time and money by choosing you to meet her therapy needs. This scenario is one specific example of your target audience. You may have many niche markets. Now that you know your individual strengths, your next step is getting them in front of you.

Determine what marketing strategies you will use to persuade people to try your services.

Maybe you will send out coupon mailers, build a following on your Facebook business page, or focus on an effective landing page with a compelling call to action. There are many approaches to reach your customers and you will likely use many facets of marketing. Let’s say you are targeting college students. You may find more success in focusing on digital marketing efforts like your website or social media versus a mailer that is trashed at first glance.

Like any successful business, it’s trial and error that will lead you to the best methods. But by identifying your target audience ahead of time, it will narrow down those approaches to what is appropriate for your future consumers.

Starting A Blog

Starting A Blog

Starting A Blog

A blog is a site run by a person or group written to evoke conversation and education its audience.

Before the term “blog” was created, a blog was referred to as a “web log.” A web log is essentially an online diary of information organized chronologically with the latest “logs” appearing at the top of the page. Blogs became more prevalent in the late ’90s and were used by many businesses and individuals to promote products, provide reviews and disperse information on a wide variety of topics.

Since blogs are written from an individual perspective, it immediately creates a connection between the blogger and the reader. Comment sections are often seen below the blog post, opening the door to further contact.

This casual, open dialogue is one of the most significant benefits of starting a blog. You can bounce ideas back and forth with others and connect with those who share the same interests. Your readers will likely trust you more, seeing you as a person and not just a business. More trust leads to more potential sales, whether it be your services, an affiliate lead or product.

Anyone with a computer and a web host can start a blog. The start-up cost is minimal, and if you learn how to do it right, you’ll make your money back in no time.

At first glance, starting a blog can seem overwhelming. But breaking it down one by one, it’s not so difficult. Here are 5 steps to help you walk through this process seamlessly.

How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps

  1. Choose a name for your blog. Check  the availability of potential domain names here
  2. Get your blog online. Choose a hosting provider and purchase the domain name. Check out this article about GreenGeeks and why we recommend them.
  3. Set up your blog setup on WordPress.
    If you are using GreenGeeks, click here are step by step directions
  4. Choose a theme (free or paid).
    A theme is the basic design of your site (layout, fonts, background colour, etc). Click the blue ‘activate’ button and you’re ready to start designing!
  5. Write your first Blog!

You’ve got your website set up—now start writing!

On the left menu panel, click “Posts.” A default post will appear.

Add the title of your blog in the top text box.

Type up your blog post content in the main text box.

To the right of the window, you’ll find a place to add categories and tags. Use these to organize your posts. Create your own unique categories and tags, which appear in the sidebar or below the blog title.

At the very bottom is the featured image link. Click this and it will pull up your media library. Select an image and it will appear on the main blog post feed as well as the blog post itself.

Once you complete the blog post, go ahead and click publish! And just like magic, your post will appear at the top of your website.

You can schedule the blog to be posted at a specific time if you’d like. Want to add to it or fix a typo? You can edit it at any time. Now get ready to write your next blog post!