,

Is Customer Loyalty Still A Thing?

Is customer loyalty still a thing? Like, is it dead or?

It depends on who you’re asking. Thanks to the ever-expanding presence of e-commerce, consumers are faced with more choices than they know what to do with.

This overabundance of choice has created a more knowledgeable and demanding consumer base. Because of this, there’s a divide among marketers and e-commerce consultants about whether or not customer loyalty is dead and what will rise/is rising to take its place.

It’s Time For A Brief History Lesson About Customer Loyalty

To better understand where customer loyalty is at today–and why it’s there–we have to go back in time and trace its journey up to this point:

With this new strategy of rewarding consumers for repeating behavior businesses of all kinds hopped on board–bakeries, hotels, auto repair shops, airlines–and soon after that the plastic cards that cluttered everyone’s keychains were replaced by apps on their smartphones.

But this type of strategy had an Achilles heel no one noticed until it was “too late”.

  • Constant discounts turn into bribing consumers who want bigger savings and better deals every time you try enticing them to come back
  • Everyone’s doing the same thing so consumers can download multiple apps from companies that are known competitors with each other and be “loyal” by obtaining discounts from everyone

This is when loyalty programs began to give way to membership programs.

Unlike traditional loyalty programs, which were free for customers to join, membership programs ask consumers to pay to receive discounts and special swag. Some examples you’re probably familiar with, or a member of yourself include:

All of which have been extremely successful because these companies are the best at providing value (i.e. attractive exchange) beyond special deals and discounts.

In-The-Traditional-Sense-Of-The-Term-Customer-Loyalty-Is-Dead

So, Yeah, In The Traditional Sense Of The Term, Customer Loyalty Is Dead…

but it ain’t dead as a doornail. A new form of customer loyalty program/strategy is emerging which focuses on engagement, emotion, and relevancy to create long-lasting relationships with customers.

At this point, everybody knows it costs more to acquire new customers than to keep old ones. Outpacing your competition depends on how loyal and happy your tribe of customers are at any given moment.

A quick Google search will return a variety of research that shows today’s customers prioritize receiving great service from the brands they deem worthy of their business.

According to this report by Bond Brand Loyalty, the percent of members satisfied with their membership program is 2.7X higher among members whose program reps make them feel special and recognized.

Businesses that focus on building strong relationships with customers, rather than focusing on just providing discounts, are the businesses that reap the rewards of customer loyalty. As the Bond Brand Loyalty report also pointed out:

  • 81% of consumers said loyalty programs that focus on relationship building make them more likely to continue doing business with the brand
  • 73% of consumers are more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programs
  • 75% of consumers say that loyalty programs are a big part of their relationship with brands

But don’t let these stats fool you. On average, consumers are members of at least 8 different loyalty programs. The real question you should be asking isn’t, “is customer loyalty dead,” but rather how do I build a reputation for developing amazing customer relationships?

Small Business Success Is Dependent on Satisfied Customers

Let’s be real here. As small business owners, we can’t beat the big boys when it comes to things like low prices and out of this world specials.

But we can beat them by providing a level of service to our customers they just can’t compete with.

Consumer data from a Peppers & Rogers study revealed that: 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering an excellent customer experience are outperforming their competition.

As marketer’s, we’re guilty of getting so wrapped up in lead conversion that we forget what happens next is more important than anything else. How we maintain our relationship with customers once they’re customers.

If you read our post, Explaining the Marketing Funnel and How It Works, you’ll remember that if you’re always looking to make the buyer’s journey as simple as possible for prospective buyers, you’ll convert those prospects into customers and you’ll be just fine.

That’s when your focus needs to shift to providing an ongoing top-notch experience. Because if you don’t somebody else will and you’ll never maintain the loyalty from customers we all need to survive.

,

Album Art You’d Have To Be Blind Not To Love

You have to create beauty to appreciate beauty.

Around here, we like to find the beauty in a lot of different things. Websites. Posters. Cars. Mexican food. Album covers.

Big emphasis on the album covers. We’ve mentioned it before and you can bet we’ll mention it again, but we dig music over here on the (Z) Coast.

Designing album art is a very different kind of design and we know when to take the time to appreciate something unique and inspiring. Albums represent a chapter in the artist’s life that often signals something worth remembering. It’s common courtesy, really.

A lot of emotion, time, energy, and money go into recording an album so you better believe just as much emotion, time, and energy (we won’t get into the money debate today) go into the art that graces the cover.

Album art designers are faced with communicating via a single image what most listeners will forever associate with the entire collection of songs on the artist’s album.

It’s not an easy task and it’s kind of a big deal.

But we’d totally jump at the chance to design an album cover if anybody ever came knocking with a project.

So tonight, we’re taking the time to recognize some of our favorite album art. Art that we believe connects with its intended audience and relays a powerful message about the music waiting to be unleashed into our earbuds and change our lives forever.

We hope you enjoy the album covers below as much as we do. The music ain’t bad either.

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

Radiohead-A-Moon-Shaped-Pool

Ryan Monbleau – I Was Just Leaving (2017)

Ryan-Monbleau-I-Was-Just-Leaving

The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

The-Velvet-Underground-Nico-The-Velvet-Underground-Nico

Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love (2016)

Childish-Gambino-Awaken-My-Love

B.B. King – One Kind Favor (2008)

B-B-King-One-Kind-Favor

Milo Greene – Milo Greene (2012)

milo-greene-milo-greene

Zac Brown Band – Jekyll + Hyde (2015)

Zac-Brown-Band-Jekyll-Hyde

Lucius – Wildewomen (2014)

lucius-wildewoman

Eden – I Think You Think Too Much of Me (2016)

Eden-I-Think-You-Think-Too-Much-of-Me

Years And Years – Communion (2016)

years-and-years-communion

Music is the pulse our body craves to feel, touch, and generate art. Do you believe we love music yet? Good, because we would like to create your next album art, traffic-generating website, or marketing funnel. Z Coast Media is all about the vibes and in order to keep putting your sound out you need a plan to fund that adventure. Contact us today to reach your bands brand goals! 

 

,

How to Brand Your Band

We’re serious music fanatics over here at Z Coast and our taste is spread across multiple genres—we’re talking everything from  Marian Hill to Jessie Reyez to Eric Church to alt-J to Ed Sheeran. We like music, okay?

Speaking of which, feel free to check out our Spotify playlist and see what we’re listening to this week. Now back to our regularly scheduled writing…

While we appreciate these musical artists for the tunes they produce, the marketer’s in us can’t help but appreciate the brands they have established (and are establishing) for themselves.

All of the musicians we mentioned have something in common: they know what their unique identity is and they express it with authenticity, confidence, and consistency. These three things are what enable anyone, but especially musicians, to connect and engage with other people in a meaningful manner.

Authenticity, confidence, and consistency are also the key to a long-lasting career in the music industry. So we ask you, garage bands and solo artists of America who have yet to break into the industry (we know your time is coming!), are you comfortable in your musician’s skin?

Let that float around in your mind for a minute while we do you a favor. Below is a little advice for how to brand your band (or solo career). We hope you put it to good use and when you hit it big, remember us when you need that debut album cover designed *winks*.


How to Brand Your Band: Tip #1

Invest in storytelling. “Storytelling” is certainly overhyped these days but it’s also a marketing tool that isn’t used nearly enough for the amount of attention it gets. In the world of music and branding, storytelling is how you choose to focus the message you send out on a consistent basis.

Your story just gives people another reason to invest in you emotionally and financially. Sure, the music you’re producing is phenomenal, but it’s the story of your personal relationship with music and who you are artistically that gives you something to market.

Just look at Ed Sheeran and his latest album release ÷ (Divide).  The album has blown up across the globe since its release on March 3rd, 2017. Why? Because Sheeran tells a story people the world over relate to. ÷ (Divide) focuses on love, friendship, loss, family and Sheeran’s own personal struggles with fame.

It’s authentic. It’s credible. It’s raw and it’s real. It’s also on repeat while we assemble this post. Could we be any more in love with the man? Probably.

Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and your story flow. Who knows. You could be the next Ed Sheeran (we doubt it, but you could be).


How to Brand Your Band: Tip #2

Do some blogging. Seriously. Expanding on the storytelling tip here, another great place to promote your music and tell your story is a blog. Part of being a successful musician is keeping your audience captivated right?

What better way to grab their attention—besides via your music of course—than to tell your fans what an awesome time you had at your last gig all thanks to them? Blogging is a great way to connect with people and help them feel like they’re getting something a little extra from you in return for all of their undying adoration.

Blogging about all your events also opens up the opportunity for you to start a newsletter that can be delivered directly to fan inboxes. And *boom* you’ve instantly created two new ways for people to learn about who you are and check out your music.

But just like learning to play the electric guitar, it takes time and practice to develop the skills necessary to put together a successful blog post.

Don’t let that intimidate you. However, if you’d rather focus your efforts more on writing new songs than blog posts, you know where to find us


How to Brand Your Band: Tip #3

Be consistent, boys and girls. This is very important. Especially when it comes to things like your social media accounts and marketing materials. It’s great to be creative, but throwing every idea and photo you’ve ever taken out there on the internet isn’t going to help you much. In fact, it might hurt you.

Marketers and branding experts in any industry will talk to you for hours about how your Facebook fan page needs to match your website, which needs to match Twitter, which needs to match your ReverbNation account, which needs to match anywhere else you put yourself and your music online.

They ain’t lying. It’s important.

Here’s a helpful list of things you need to keep consistent with your band branding across things like your website, social media accounts, emails and gig posters:

  • Language (voice/tone)
  • Color Schemes
  • Fonts
  • Images

Why is this important, you ask? Because you want to be easily identifiable. A big reason you should want to brand your band (or brand yourself as a solo musician, we know you’re reading too) is because you want to be easily recognized. You want people to know who you are.

Maintaining consistency throughout all your media and marketing materials is a super easy way to achieve that. So do yourself a favor, sit down for a few minutes and hammer out the message you want to send to people.


How to Brand Your Band: Tip #4

Interact with fans on social media. This goes with that whole “be consistent and authentic” thing we mentioned at the beginning of the post and in Tip #3. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all wonderful tools for branding your band.

Social media platforms give you a grand opportunity to establish your voice and connect with new people. Connecting with new people is great for your music because it widens the potential audience your music can reach.

Social media also gives you an opportunity to listen to your fans. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all make it easy for you quickly learn what’s entertaining your fans and what isn’t. You should always stay true to yourself and your brand, but it doesn’t hurt to keep your ear to the ground either.

People won’t invest energy and money into you if they don’t feel connected with you. And in order for people to feel connected to you, you have to make the effort to connect with them. It doesn’t hurt to slip in some nicely branded merch giveaways every once in awhile either.


How to Brand Your Band: Tip #5

Be selective. Let’s say you’ve already got your message down and you’ve created some really sick posters, a couple of blog posts, some social media accounts, and a newsletter to promote your upcoming gigs and new set list.

That’s awesome. But what sets you apart from the hundreds of thousands of other bands and musicians out there? How will you rise above the noise? There’s a fine line between promoting yourself and being desperate for someone to know you.

When and how often should you be sending all this stuff out? If you’re tweeting 30 times per day, booking as many gigs as your rickety old van can get you to, and emailing novel length newsletters to everybody and their mom because you think they might be interested, you’re going to have a lot of people start covering their ears real fast.

If you want to brand your band and be good at promoting it, you have to learn to be selective. Focus on writing the best music you possibly can and then clearly and selectively communicate it to your fans.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with throwing together a quick blog post about how stoked you are to release the 3 new songs you just perfected, but you’re going to get on people’s nerves if you’re blowing up their social feeds and inboxes every few hours with “updates” about the verse you just rhymed.

Good marketers and branding professionals know that timing is everything. Think of it like a beat you want to keep.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it for you, developing your own brand and voice as a musical artist is hard. And it’s neverending. How you choose to brand your band is something you’ll have to keep up with for the entire length of your career.

As music fans ourselves, we want to see you succeed. We also know how tough it can be to get started. If you have questions about branding your band and all it entails—like setting up a website and designing epic posters—don’t be afraid to reach out. We’d probably totally fangirl over the opportunity to work on a design project with you. No shame.

,

Logos We Love: Atlanta Falcons Edition

We’re thinking about starting something new here at Z Coast where we feature a logo we love in an extra blog post every other week or so. And what better way to kick off our new logo series than to start with something local, right?

In honor of Superbowl Weekend—and since our hometown team is playing for it all on Sunday—we thought we’d shine the spotlight on something both designers and football fans can appreciate: The Atlanta Falcons logo.

A proud bird of prey, the Atlanta Falcons logo features a fiendish combination of red and black as its primary colors with silver accents.

Paired together, these three colors incite feelings of aggression, boldness and power. The hidden letter “F” is also worth noting too. (Do you see it?)

The design is flat and some may argue not the best choice for showcasing a bird in flight, but we think Verlander Design did our Dirty Birds proud when they created the logo in 2003.

Then again, maybe we’re biased. But it’s our blog and the Atlanta Falcons are our football team and we do what we want.

Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a Super Bowl LI party to prep for.

Rise Up!

,

A Short and Sweet Guide for Finding Your Brand’s Voice

Your voice—the things you talk about and how you talk about them—is the most important part of your brand. It doesn’t matter what you do and it doesn’t matter what media channels you use to broadcast it. Your voice is the most important part of your brand.

Why does it matter so much? Because your voice is what communicates your values and informs your audience and most importantly, it’s how your audience recognizes you. The whole point of establishing your branding voice is so that people will recognize the things you put out no matter what.

So, how do you go about molding your brand’s tone of voice to communicate your brand message effectively? Use the short and sweet guide for finding your brand’s voice below.

 

Start With a Strong Foundation

  • Establish what your brand stands for:

    • Here are some ideas to help get your wheels turning: fun community luxury excitement progress adventure
  • Establish your key message to the world:

    • To take the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful (Google)
    • To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world (Nike)
    • To make it easy for people to do themselves some good (Innocent Smoothies)

Want some help figuring this out? We’ve got you covered.

 

Find Some Inspiration

  • Look for inspiration outside the walls of your office:

    • Ask team members for opinions of what they think your company values should be
    • Hold a meeting where you ask people to list words, phrases they associate with your company, and phrases they don’t associate with the company
  • Asking for help establishing brand voice can have a big impact on the loyalty of your customers:

    • 66% of millennials have abandoned what had been their brand of choice because the brand no longer fit their identity (Source)
    • The most important driver of brand loyalty for millennials is a great product at 77%, followed closely by brand recognition and trust at 69% (Source)
    • 73% of consumers cite value as the leading factor that determines brand loyalty (Source)

 

Address Your Target Audience

  • Decide how you’re going to say what  you want to say to whoever you want to say it to:

    • Should your voice be formal? stiff authoritative serious
    • Should your voice be informal? fun distinctive characterful
  • It all comes down to target audience because if your brand voice doesn’t appeal to them:

    • 81% of consumers have un-liked a brand’s Facebook page if they felt the brand’s voice no longer resonated with them (Source)
    • 41% have unfollowed a brand’s Twitter handle (Source)
    • 97% have marked an email message as spam (Source)

Take your cues from your audience!

 

Find Your Funny Bone…Just Be Yourself

  • Consider if humor fits into your brand’s voice. If humor is part of your brand voice, remember to:

    • Stay humble – it’s better to laugh at yourself rather than your customer
    • Be subtle – in most cases, gentle humor is the way to go for lighter copy
    • Go with your gut – if you’re ever in doubt, leave your joke out
  • Humorous or not, the most important things you can do when establishing your brand’s voice is:

    • Build trust – 54% of people don’t trust brands. Ouch. (Source)
    • Be authentic – 80% of consumers say authenticity is the most influential factor in their decision to follow a brand (Source)
    • Meet needs – 48% of consumers expect brands to know them and help them discover products and services that meet their needs (Source)

45% of a brands image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it. Your brand is your promise, what you say you do, how you say you do it, and how it’s done. Make sure your company delivers on what you say you do with a well-established brand voice.

Are you ready to find your brand’s voice? Talk to us today and let’s establish the message that sets you apart from your competition.

,

It’s Time To Focus On Building Your Company Culture


Company culture. It’s a term you hear thrown around pretty often these days. But, what is it exactly? How do you define it and why is it important?

If you ask us, company culture is the personality of a business from an employee’s perspective. It includes the mission and expectations of the business in addition to the atmosphere.  It’s a giant blend of the values, beliefs, and symbols that businesses develop over time.

Whether you have it written down or symbolized in the business logo, culture is what determines an environment. For example, one company and work culture that we admire a lot around here is Google.

 

what-determines-your-companys-culture

What Determines Your Company’s Culture?

Google employs 61,000+ people and yet the people who work there consistently describe it as having a small company feel. Google believes that it’s the people who make the company and that’s something that we believe very strongly in as well.

In our culture at Z Coast Media, we strive to maintain an open and hands-on feel where everyone feels comfortable sharing opinions and ideas. We encourage teamwork, solo projects, good conversation, and having a life outside of work.

Each work culture has different tactics and unique qualities. But, universally, like Google says, it’s all about the people in your company and making sure they have a fun and productive work environment.

 

why-does-having-a-rich-work-culture-matter

Why Does Having A Rich Work Culture Matter?

The simple answer: Better moods = better performance.

Boring and/or hostile work environments are not sustainable and the workplace shouldn’t be something people dread every day. Employees should look forward to doing their jobs and while work may be hard sometimes, company culture shouldn’t add stress to the work.

You want your employees  to be happy because happiness means more productivity. In fact, businesses with happy and engaged employees:

  • Outperform the competition by 202% (Source)
  • Experience an 18% higher customer retention rate (Source)
  • Have 37% less absenteeism and 41% fewer quality defects (Source)

When you make it a priority to build and sustain a rich, healthy company culture, your whole business will benefit from it. The guiding principles that define your work culture will help you make tough decisions, keep everyone on the same page and for all intents and purposes, serve as the glue that holds your business together.

 

how-to-buildyour-company-culture

How to Build Your Company Culture

If building up your company culture isn’t already a priority, it should be.  Here’s how you can get started:

  • Be original. As much as we admire companies like Google, Nike, Zappos and whoever else’s culture you can think of that rocks, we are not any of those companies and neither are you. If you want to establish a winning work culture you have to be authentic and keep your brand consistent. What works for one business’ may not work for yours. Company culture thrives on originality.
  • Take the time to outline the type of people you want your business to grow with. Defining the type of people you would like to be a part of your business—their skills and personalities—is essential to building your company culture. As tempting as it can be to hire people who think and act exactly like you do, it’s diversity that will help accelerate your company’s growth. Embrace individuality and different personalities.
  • Put people first. You want to be successful and have a company culture that entices people to come work for you? Build your company around life—the things that make us human—instead of asking employees to build their lives around work. Your people, your employees, are your most valuable resource and deserve to be treated as such. When people feel valued and supported, they’re more inspired to achieve great things.

Whether your company is well-established or you’re just starting up, it’s never too late to focus on what you want your unique company culture to look and feel like.

, ,

14 Amazing Idea Generation Techniques & Resources Just For You

I was following a #bufferchat on Twitter earlier this month about idea generation and it got me thinking about my own idea generation process, where we go for creative inspiration, and why it’s important to free ourselves from the mundane thoughts that hog our brain space the majority of the time.

Side note: If you’re not familiar with #bufferchat you really should get involved. Buffer hosts weekly “chats” on Twitter that center around specific topics and anybody can participate in the discussion. It’s pretty cool.  

As creative entrepreneur’s, we’re always on the lookout for inspiration. Ideas themselves come and go pretty frequently but you can’t ever predict when something will inspire a great idea.

We read books and blogs, watch movies, listen to podcasts, and follow YouTube playlists hoping something will spark the flame of creativity when we’re stuck because generating ideas on demand isn’t always easy. And that’s why I loved the idea generation topic on #bufferchat a couple of weeks ago.

The whole point of the chat was to share ideas, inspirational resources and encourage fellow creatives on their innovative idea journey. The whole chat inspired this post and gave us the idea to share the 14 most amazing idea generation techniques and resources we could put together. Thanks, Buffer!

 

use-these-7-techniques-to-jumpstart-your-creativity

Use These 7 Techniques to Jumpstart Your Creativity

We hope these tips spark some innovative ideas for you no matter what you’re working on today.

  • Brainstorming. I know, I know, this isn’t anything you haven’t heard before but it’s a tried and true method for inspiring new ideas. The point of brainstorming is so people can speak freely about their ideas. There’s no assessing anything so there’s no fear of criticism when sharing thoughts. Even the weird ones. Taming your thoughts is a lot easier than expanding your mind.

    Next time you’re stuck, get together with at least one other person and bounce ideas off of each other. When you’re brainstorming, 1+1=3 so you’re allowed to think outside of the box.
  • SCAMPER. This one is a personal favorite because SCAMPER is an idea generation technique that uses action verbs to stimulate your imagination. It’s a technique that was developed by Bob Eberie.

    SCAMPER is also an acronym. Each letter stands for an action verb which in turn serves as a prompt for creative ideas:

    S – Substitute
    C – Combine
    A – Adapt
    M -Modify
    P – Put to another use
    E – Eliminate
    R – Reverse
  • Storyboarding. Storyboarding is fun! If you’ve never created a storyboard before you should try it. When you storyboard, you develop a visual story to explain and explore ideas. Storyboards are especially helpful when you need to represent information you gathered while researching a topic.

    To create a storyboard all you need is a whiteboard or corkboard, whichever you prefer. Pictures, quotes, and other pertinent information is useful as well because that’s what you use to stand for scenarios and assist with comprehending the relationships between all of your ideas.
  • Attribute Listing. Attribute listing is more of an analytical approach used to recognize new forms of a product or system and identify areas that need improvement. Basically, you break something completely down, like a blog post, for example, note all of the different directions it could take, and see whether any change or combination to the topic idea would improve it or make it a complete flop.
  • Visualization. Visualization is an idea generation technique that gets you to think about challenges visually in an effort to better comprehend them. Nick does this all the time so we promise that it works.

    Picture prompts are particularly helpful when you’re using the visualization technique to solve a problem. Drawing things out or looking up literal pictures help your brain establish connections as well as surface emotions, feelings, and intuitions.

    Bryan Mattimore suggests that you use images that are visually interesting, portray a multiplicity of subject matter, and depict people in varied kinds of relationships and interactions. It also helps to tailor the photos to the character of the problem you’re trying to solve.
  • Daydreaming. Seriously. Let your mind wander from time to time. Daydreaming is a great way to trigger innovative ideas. Just keep a notebook nearby or download an app like Keep or Evernote so you can quickly jot down ideas when they come to you.
  • Brainwriting. Similar to brainstorming, brainwriting is an idea generation technique that has you set a timer (like 5 minutes) and jot down as many ideas, thoughts, or questions relative to your perplexing topic. This particular technique works best with a group of 3+ people.

    After time’s up, everybody passes their paper to the person on their right (or however you choose to do it) and then you add more ideas to the list you received. Once everybody in your group has added on to everyone else’s ideas, collect the sheets and open up discussion in the group.

    It’s almost impossible not to generate some creative ideas to act on when using this technique.

 

7-websites-for-creative-inspiration

7 Websites for Creative Inspiration

The techniques above are great for generating ideas with a team but sometimes you  just need some personal creative inspiration. We don’t want to make this list obnoxiously long so we’ll just share 7 of our go to places when we need some creative inspiration:  

  1. Creative Bloq. Creative Bloq is full of fresh thinking, expert tips, and tutorials guaranteed to help flex your creative muscles. They’re great at providing creative inspiration for creative people.
  2. SitePoint. Well-known among web designers and developers, SitePoint is the perfect place to learn things like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and more. The community is rich and engaging too, so you’re bound to stumble upon some words of inspiration every time you visit.
  3. JUST Creative. Technically, JUST Creative is the design portfolio of Jacob Cass but it’s also a pretty inspiring blog to keep up with. Cass specializes in logo design and brand identity so his posts are always full of inspiring info about topics like typography, SEO and web design, and storytelling techniques to name a few.
  4. Red Lemon Club. Red Lemon Club was founded in 2009 by Alex Mathers. It’s a great website that regularly showcases tips about branding, productivity, and business and it’s a great resource when you’re stuck on a project.
  5. Awwwards. If you’re ever in need of a little design inspiration, go to Awwwards. Awwwards is an organization that recognizes and promotes the talents of the best web designers, web developers, and web design agencies around the world.
  6. Speckyboy. Speckyboy is an online magazine for web designers. The mag focuses on exploring new techniques for inspiration and highlights a lot of cool and interesting resources for you to use.
  7. Ultralinx. They’re one of the best online magazines out there. Ultralinx covers high-quality tech, art, design, gadgets, and photography. At the time of this post, Ultralinx is my favorite go-to inspirational resource and they’ll probably stay that way for a long time. Highly recommended.


What are some of your favorite idea generation techniques or go-to resources? Let’s inspire each other and talk about them in the comments!

 

,

Personal Branding Is Hard: How to Make It Easier

It’s easy to only think of branding in the sense of big businesses and multi-million dollar companies. But the truth is, brands are so much more than that.

Barry Feldman said it best in a blog post where he offered up some personal branding tips too:

 

You, my friend, are a brand.

I’m a brand. You’re a brand. The Orange Walls are a brand. They’re also a popular roots-rock/jam band in Atlanta who put on killer live shows (and no, we aren’t being paid to blog that)…

Back to the topic here.

 

What Is Personal Branding?

Personal branding is all about telling your story, in your voice, in your own unique way. It’s about managing and optimizing the way you present yourself. So, in order to make your personal brand successful, you have to craft and define your own identity.

This is because even though businesses and companies are often built around ideas, they’re ultimately represented by the people who work for them.

Crafting and defining your own identity isn’t a cakewalk. But once you hit your stride and figure out what makes you stand out, it will open the doors to countless opportunities.

 

PERSONAL-BRANDING-IS-HARD-HOW-TO-MAKE-IT-EASIER-2

How Do You Define Your Personal Brand?

Defining your personal brand is an opportunity to learn more about yourself. It’s a chance to take a look in the mirror and identify your unique skills, strengths, and talents. Easier said than done though, right?

Agreed. But as one swell guy we know by the name of President Theodore Roosevelt once put it, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”

So what can you do to start defining your personal brand and make it a little easier on yourself? Answer the following question:

What are you passionate about?

Don’t rush it. Take your time and really think about what you enjoy doing most in this world. People with strong personal brands are clear about who they are and what they’re good at.

They take advantage of their strengths and utilize them every day. If you’re having trouble making a list don’t be shy about asking a friend or coworker what they think you’re good at or what they admire most about you. If you’re really stumped just ask your mom. Mom’s can always find something to praise you for.

For example, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post right now if our mom’s never encouraged us to pursue what we’re good at (shoutout to Michele and Patsy!).

 

Improve Your Brand, Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

Okay, you know what you’re good at but what do you suck at doing? Be honest with yourself here.

Even Superman had his Kryptonite. Once you’ve established what  you’re passionate about and what you’re good at, you have to take inventory of the things you’re not so good at.

Nobody can be good at everything. Not even us. However, we realize that and have a gameplan in place to make sure we don’t let those weaknesses hold us back.

Want to know what the secret is? It’s not some fancy list of personal branding tips or a magic recipe that will give you overnight success; sorry. Here’s the secret. We:

  • Reduce the impact of our weaknesses by choosing projects that play to our strengths
  • Acknowledge those weaknesses as weaknesses and something we can improve on
  • Seize opportunities to build new skills that will serve us well and turn our weaknesses into strengths

And you can too! But you don’t have to do it alone. If you need help, don’t be shy about asking for it. That’s kind of why we’re here.

 

PERSONAL-BRANDING-IS-HARD-HOW-TO-MAKE-IT-EASIER-3

Use Your Personal Brand to Make an Impact

Of course, in order to use your personal brand to make an impact you also need to:

  • Tap into your values and find out what directs the choices you make. For example, what’s more important to you: Wealth or charity? Control or teamwork? Flexibility or punctuality?
  • Explore your purpose and have a clear vision of the things you would like to achieve.
  • Build your brand around your passion, strengths, values, and vision.

Clarifying your passions, strengths, values, and vision is what will make your personal brand successful. But how can you use your personal brand to make an impact?  

You market yourself. You create an amazing career that reflects who you are and who you strive to be day in and day out. You can even use a personal branding agency to help you get started.

It’s up to you how you go about establishing your personal brand. Afterall, it’s your brand and you’re the one who’s ultimately responsible for what you do with it.

Are there any killer examples of personal brands out there you really admire? Let us know about them in the comments! We’re always up for good discussion.