Tag Archives: inhouse design
15 Steps to Futureproofing Your Brand
The way we market ourselves in business is now more volatile than ever. We’ve seen monumental shifts in behaviours during the Covid pandemic and it’s created more pressure on businesses to ensure their brand remains in an optimum position as these changes occur.
One of the biggest causes of failure in business is brand negligence. Far too often, brand development is seen as a one-stop shop; a single visit process which can simply be ticked off, never to be reviewed again. The stark reality is that there are many contributing factors which prove it requires constant nurturing. The best advice we can give is to plan ahead. Think about where you want your business to be in 6, 12, 24 months and ensure that you position your brand to match your goals.
So, how do you go about doing this to meet these expectations? Here are 15 steps to ensure your brand is watertight for the future:
1. Review your goals and values
It’s important to regularly review your goals and values, to take stock of where you are. So, take some time to do some introspection on your brand journey to date. Are you clear about your brand values? What are your core values? Are your goals are aligned with the progress the business is making?
2. Identify your USP
What makes your business better than any other? Identifying your USP is vital for understanding the unique value that only you have to offer to your ideal audience, through your experience and expertise. What problem does your business solve differently or better than other businesses in your field? Focusing on what you do really well will help you to focus on your strategy.
3. Understand your audience
It’s important to get very specific with who needs your product or service and more importantly, where they live online. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know what strategies or media to choose, let alone what messages to give them or how to treat them once they become full-fledged customers. Find out what platforms your audience use, get into their mindsets and really tap into what’s going to make them tick.
4. Create a headline with impact
Create an impactful headline statement that includes who you are, what you do, how you do it and for whom. This shouldn’t be more than a sentence, it can then be used in your online profiles and as an introduction when meeting new people. This headline should clearly communicate your brand, so it’s worth putting your thinking cap on for this one.
5. Stay true to your brand story
A clear and distinctive brand is one that is tells a story that sticks in your mind and gives a company an advantage in the marketplace. What does your brand really mean to your organisation? Does it represent tangible assets with your logo on them? Is it your tone-of-voice? A brand must be the expression of the ‘authentic story’ behind your organisation.
6. Ensure your online profiles are up to date
Keeping all your profiles up to date online is important to ensure you and your brand are seen as current and professional. These channels are a form of branding, so invest in things like a professional headshot. Ensure that your profiles have up-to-date and accurate information about you and your brand, to represent yourself the way you want to be addressed.
7. Monitor your website search ranking
Start with a simple Google search with your name, then your brand name, then the keywords that would be associated with your name or brand. Make a note of where you rank on Google and what links show up for you first. This will help you to become aware of what others are seeing when they are trying to find you so that you can make the necessary changes or updates.
8. Be the master in a particular field
Have a think about what you want to be known for in your industry. What keywords would you want someone to use to find you online? If you had an opportunity to speak at an event, what would your ideal topic be? Figure out your niche and then get more specific with your offering, this will make it easier for the right people to find you. Become a master in your chosen field and excel in it.
9. Demonstrate your compassion
Brands today are no longer just about representing a transaction. Brands must demonstrate that they make a contribution, beyond mere product benefits. They need to be a force for good in our world. For example: improving communities, providing useful career paths for employees, supporting charities and worthy causes to give back to the community. You need to demonstrate this to your audience and make sure they know you care.
10. Create and share content
Content is key! Sharing useful, interesting and innovative content is a sure way to keep your brand top of mind. To make a start, write down the top 10 questions you get asked by your customers or clients. Use this as the starting point to creating content for your audience. Break down each question and decide on the best format, images, video and audio for your content.
11. Comment and collaborate
It’s key to be present and engaged on your social media channels. Comment, like, share and connect with people. Real connection can lead to real opportunities for collaboration that can quickly expand your reach and audience and grow your online community.
12. Focus on the platforms right for you
If you’re wondering what platforms are right for you, then the answer is wherever your ideal audience lives online. Find out where your people are hanging out and engaging online and meet them there. Get familiar with the platforms and start creating content that adds value to your community.
13. Keep it fresh and relevant
Regular content, well written and distributed, continually reinforces your brand voice while delivering value to your customers. Thought leadership is also important, the ideas, concepts and vision your company can own and act upon to influence your industry. This showcases your strengths, your capabilities and your authority and keeps content fresh and relevant.
14. Never stand still
A brand does not stand still. People are continually looking to improve their lives in some way and brands that light the way forward through new ideas, resonate with a hungry public. The market will always change, and your brand will always have to adapt. To future-proof your brand, you must constantly evaluate your environment and think several steps ahead. How quickly and flexibly can you adapt to industry changes and shifting customer needs? Managing your brand is a continuous process, with the aim of continuing to optimise brand experiences and brand values.
15. Get the right expertise
To ensure that your brand is always future proof, you need the right expertise on hand. You can develop this expertise within your own talent pool, but it’s also wise to use external help, especially when your brand planning changes. You might work on the brand with a lot of people within your organisation, but think about who is responsible for your brand when it comes to strategy and design? Experts can provide unique points of view and innovative ideas, to compliment and synergise with your own in-house teams.
Agencies are often hired when it comes to brand strategy and design. By working with us at Creative Fire, you’ll be adding heavy weight skill sets to your team in marketing, design, communications, printing and digital publishing. To find out more, contact the Creative Fire team today.
Turning to a design agency for your marketing will yield significant rewards. Not only will you get the benefit of professional designs, but you’ll get the expertise of an experienced team who will help you navigate the marketing and branding elements of your business. At Creative Fire, our ground-breaking Creative Time package will also ensure that you get the most value from your investment. Let’s explore the benefits of working with a design agency.
Get your time back
When it comes to running a business, time is money. Some business owners or managers might like the idea of adding ‘designer’ to their list of jobs, but design is time consuming and if you aren’t a trained professional, ‘having a go’ at logos and branding will take valuable time away from your other tasks. A professional design agency can take the task of design off your hands completely and thus free up your time. Working with a team of experts will allow you to focus more time on your business and the things you’re good at. Not only that, but a team of graphic designers gives you more resources, knowledge, and support than you’d get from going it alone.
Decades of experience
Did you know that an external design team will have far more experience (on average 10+ years) compared to 1-3 years for an in-house hire? Essentially, a design agency provides decades of experience, at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. Training up internal staff is commendable, but a design agency will give you access to years of talent and expertise. Creatives from a design agency will be highly skilled and come from a host of different design backgrounds, disciplines, and industries, offering a wide range of design expertise to ensure professional and high-quality work.
Marketing when you need it
If you hire an in-house design team, you’ll need to keep them busy every working day of the year and this often won’t be cost effective. Outsourcing to a design agency means you’ll only need to pay when you have a project to work on. At Creative Fire, Creative Time is our structured design package to provide you with the solution your business needs to drive it forward. It offers all the benefits of having an in-house designer, but with flexibility. This isn’t like a usual ‘retainer’ package, we’ll work to your timetable, not ours. So, if you don’t use all your allocated Creative Time hours, we will roll them over for you and you’ll get the very best value for your money. Traditional retainer packages mean that if you don’t use the time allocated, you lose it.
Our ground breaking monthly subscription
We understand how important the creative input to your branding and communications is. If you constantly nurture your brand, the results will be beyond anything you could ever have imagined. That’s why we see our client relationships as long term, we want to build a relationship with you, immerse ourselves in your brand and partner with you for the long haul so we can strategize. That way, you get the most out of your investment. We believe this works far better than ad hoc projects.
At Creative Fire, we know first-hand the pain points of dealing with big agencies, so we’ve taken out the middleman, meaning you speak directly to your creative partner, from brief through to delivery. This ensures direct, fully transparent communication.
Our fully cloud-based, integrated project planner provides complete transparency, so that you know the status of each project, along with how much time has been allocated and spent. We have super-fast response times, and our client portal facilitates real-time project tracking and efficient response to your requests.
What else does our Creative Time package offer you?
- On call creative support whenever you need it.
- Discounted rates compared to our ad-hoc service.
- Automated payment setup so that you don’t need to worry about payments.
- A 1 hour review call every 2-3 weeks.
- Access to our project management interface, where you can review, comment and upload content.
- Monthly time reports to show your current usage in live time.
By working with us at Creative Fire, you’ll be adding heavy weight skill sets to your
team in marketing, design, communications, printing and digital publishing. To find out more, contact the Creative Fire team today.
Designing marketing material for your business is a hugely important process. However, companies often try to find the cheapest option when it comes to graphic design. So, what will get you the best result? Let’s explore the various options, from DIY design to using an external design agency.
When it comes to designing marketing material, the idea of doing it yourself can be tempting. After all, you know your brand inside out. You wouldn’t have to spend much money doing it yourself, plus you’d have full control and instant approval.
That said, it’s not an easy task to create a logo without any design knowledge. Your marketing material is critical for your brand identity, if you get it wrong, it will have a hugely detrimental effect on your business.
Don’t forget that design also takes time. Professional designers spend countless hours on company logos. Have you got the time to refine a logo properly? There is also a danger of your design looking amateurish, without the tools of a professional designer. Only someone experienced in designing a professional logo can make it look truly professional.
Outsourcing to Freelancers
Sites like Upwork and Fiverr host plenty of freelancers who will be happy to help with producing designs. For small projects at a lower cost, you could achieve some success utilising a freelancer. You’ll also likely receive an overwhelming number of responses to your requests, which is a positive in terms of easily accessible help, but negative in that you’ll have ideas flying round left, right and centre with no clear strategy.
Your freelancer may also have limited resources, as they aren’t coming from a design agency, and a limited skillset if they are still learning the ropes, so a freelancer gives no guarantee in terms of professional design or reliability and remains a bit of a gamble.
Crowdsourcing is sometimes a cost-effective way of getting a particular design for your brand. The process involves getting multiple designers to send in designs for you to review. You then work through these examples and pay for the design closest to what you want. Whilst you could get lucky and receive some good ideas for your spend, a public call for designs involves working through a lot of submissions from inexperienced designers.
Part of the process of design is also collaboration. You might like the font of one design and the colour of another, and a professional designer can weave these two elements together to come up with your ideal design. Crowdsource designers are unlikely to want to collaborate with other designers, they’ll produce the work, take payment, and move on to the next project.
In-house Design Team
An in-house team would bring you in designers who could give their full-time dedication and attention to your brand only. Having all your design needs in one place can be convenient and if you hire correctly, you can create a passionate team.
That said, the cost and practicalities of this may not work for your business in terms of the salary and benefits you’d need to offer, depending on their level of expertise, and the time it takes to assemble a skilled design team.
An external design team will have far more experience, on average 10+ years compared to 1-3 years for an in-house hire. In-house teams can also prove expensive, particularly for periods of down time.
Working With a Design Agency
Companies often turn to some of the options above because they want to cut costs, but if you work with a trustworthy design agency, it can be a lot more cost-effective in the long run. This is because of the relationship you’ll build, the expertise and the unique, polished results you’ll get first time round.
Design agencies are reliable, you won’t have to deal with the rookie errors of freelancers or your own mistakes. An experienced graphic design agency will get to know your business and tailor designs to your target market, putting design at the centre of the ethos, with a clear strategy to drive things. With hugely talented teams, knowledge and design tools at their fingertips, designs will be professional and impressive.
The teams at design agencies will bring with them years of talent and experience. Designers know the common design crutches and specifications, which enable them to create something memorable, yet functional. This expertise won’t be found with a freelancer or by giving it a go yourself.
At Creative Fire, we like get to know you and become familiar with your business, values and goals. We’ll work together to create high quality designs, first time round, taking the task off your hands whilst you focus on other areas of your business. For consistency, professional designs and high level expertise, contact the Creative Fire team today.