Having a strong message that resonates with your target audience can make all the difference between success and failure. But how do you figure out what messaging will work best with your target audience? And how do you make sure it accurately represents your client’s experience? (Hint: If it doesn’t, you could be in big trouble!)
Tina Blake, a development consultant for vitalink® in Raleigh, joins the ranks of area leaders who have completed the Leadership Triangle program. Blake was named a Goodmon Fellow at the graduation ceremony on May 1. Leadership Triangle brings together current and future leaders to learn about opportunities and challenges facing the Triangle and develop strong networks of cohorts to build on these opportunities and find solutions to the challenges we face.
By Jeanne Frazer, President, vitalink
Developing a brand for a new concept can be much easier than creating a revitalized brand for an existing product, service, or organization. When you have an existing brand – even a brand no one loves – you usually have large numbers of stakeholders who all have opinions about what the brand should be! Getting the majority of stakeholders on board with the new concept can be a challenge.
Let’s admit up front the chance of everyone agreeing on the exact same thing is somewhere in the neighborhood of zero. Most people do not like change, and it can take them some time to warm up to the new brand. That said, there are ways you can engage with stakeholders and increase buy-in for the revitalized brand.
The brand revitalization process
Here are some ways you can improve your odds of getting buy-in for your updated brand:
- Identify your stakeholders. Who is your audience? If you are rebranding a university, for example, consider current and prospective students, alumni, faculty and staff, influencers (parents, clergy, guidance counselors), legislators, and the community. For a city or town, look to residents, business owners, visitors, transient workers, city/town team members, and elected officials.
- Determine how to best reach all audience groups. If you have an email list, you may assume that will be sufficient. It may not be inclusive and fully representative of your stakeholders.
- Engage your stakeholders. This might be done through online (or print) surveys, focus groups, public forums, or other means. Do you need to offer the survey or focus groups in multiple languages? Hold sessions outside of normal business hours? Make sure you ask relevant questions so you can analyze the response data by stakeholder group.
- Allow enough time for the process. We have found many people do not leave sufficient time to conduct all the research needed. This is especially true when surveys must be mailed out or notices published in print.
- Go beyond just showing the logo by itself. Consider providing examples of the logo in use on a mocked-up brochure or flyer, digital ad, business card, or a web page. For many people, seeing the logo “in action” can be the difference between being unsure or loving it.
- Have a plan to deal with haters. No matter what you do, there will be at least a few people who like the old logo better. They may question why money was spent to revitalize the brand when the old one “was perfectly good.” Put together talking points for everyone on your team that explains the “why” behind the change and (high level) the process you went through collecting detailed research, and the results from the stakeholder vote. They may not like it, but should accept the change if you can prove you’ve done your homework and there is a need.
Why not just leave the brand alone?
Brands get tired, and they often need to be refreshed (and sometimes totally reimagined) to stay current and competitive. The need for a change can result from external changes (new technology, marketing channels, or audience fatigue) or internal shifts (product changes, new ownership, or a new mission/vision for the company). When it’s time to revitalize or reimagine your brand, take the time to do it right. Engage your stakeholders and do your research. You’ll be glad you did.
"We are now a little more than a year out from the rebranding and have seen significant increases in client acquisition and referrals. We have now added estate planning in support of our family law clients. Last year, we were able to pay bonuses to the team - all as a result of the marketing."
~ D. Melissa Averett, Attorney at Law, Averett Family Law
Click to read the case study and learn more about our work with rebranding Averett Family Law.
The population of the United States is aging and the number of senior living communities in the U.S. is growing quickly to support these seniors. Indeed, the the population in these senior living communities is expected to double by the year 2030.
The SilverLife Marketing division of vitalink was created to help senior communities, elder law attorneys and other professionals focused on the senior living market stand out in an increasingly competitive market segment.
Does your business fall into these categories? See a list of our tools and how we might help you.
The millennials are currently the largest generation group consisting of approximately 80 million people. Which answers the question of why it is important to be able to effectively market to this generation of people. There are a couple of values that most millennials hold true; understanding these values will help to understand them better, as well as allowing you to market to them more effectively.
These are two important values to keep in mind while marketing to millennials.
Raleigh, NC – Jeanne Frazer, president of vitalink®, today welcomed Tina Blake to the team. Tina’s background includes strategic marketing, product rollout and business development experience across medical and pharma, senior services, and politics.
“We’re so excited to have Tina on board,” says Frazer. “I met her several years ago and was impressed with her background and strategic approach. When the opportunity came up to get Tina on our team, I jumped at it! We know our clients will enjoy working with Tina.” Tina is a graduate of East Carolina University. She handled the product rollout of the Alzheimer’s drug, Namenda, as well as that of the Da Vinci robotic surgical device. Tina has been active in politics, and has run campaigns for several candidates. Her most recent position was as a consultant at Bartlett Reserve Senior Resort Living in Durham.
Do you make major marketing decisions based on research? If not, you can end up headed in the wrong direction or spending more than you should. We recently did some research for a client that was considering a name change (an expensive proposition, if you’ve ever done it!). They felt the current business name didn’t represent who they are and were leaning toward changing the name. The client asked vitalink to do find out what the market perception of the business was and recommend next steps. After completing our research, the research came back in favor of keeping the current name and simply tweaking the brand and messaging.
Here are some things to consider before you make major marketing expenditures:
- What are your goals – both from a high level for the organization and your immediate goals for a specific marketing effort? You want to be sure each marketing campaign or outreach effort supports the ultimate goals of the organization. It’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of the end goal, so using a checklist each time you plan a campaign is a good strategy.
- Have you defined your target audience? Marketing is part art and part science. It’s important to understand who your target audience is, where they spend their time (how to reach them), and what message is most likely to resonate.
- How will you measure the results of your marketing efforts? If your goal is brand awareness, it’s harder to measure than a specific promotional effort (i.e., a 20% off coupon code).
- Are there outside influences that might impact your marketing? You may positively impact your efforts by tying in with a relevant event (i.e., promoting your new local cheese products before and after National Grilled Cheese Day!). Conversely, outside events may negatively impact your efforts; for example, a natural disaster in your target area might mean you want to put efforts on pause or shift your focus to your support of disaster victims.
In short, research is an important part of marketing. While we don’t recommend worrying overly much about doing research on a $100 local team sponsorship, you do want to make sure everything you do is in line with your goals. Your research efforts should also be commensurate with the dollars you will spend. Questions? Just ask us!
Raleigh, NC – Jeanne Frazer, president of vitalink®, and Jeff Nischwitz, “reformed” attorney and president of the Nischwitz Group, will present a three-part Innovation Lab series aimed at attorneys and professionals. The first 90-minute session, Forget Balance: Finding Peace in the Practice of Law, is scheduled for August 31 at the Renaissance Hotel in North Hills.
Whether designing a website yourself or through an agency, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of trying to please ourselves (or our boss) and forget that a successful website needs human visitors who use it, enjoy it, and buy from it. But unless your best customer is you, you’ll need to turn your focus away from what you like in a website design, and towards what your users need and want.
UX expert Zoltan Gocza says:
“When designing a website, it’s easy to assume that everybody is like you. However, this leads to a strong bias and often ends in an inefficient design.
If you’re 40 years old or older and I ask you what’s most famous about the 1980 Olympics, you will immediately say “the U.S.A. hockey team beat the Soviets and won the gold medal.” Likewise, if you’re 50 or older, you can probably recite where you were when you watched the U.S.A. vs. U.S.S.R. game (which was actually the semi-final game) and the way you celebrated as Al Michaels shouted out his famous phrase, "Do you believe in miracles?”
We often talk about other people’s perception of your brand. In an ideal world, your brand would be so clearly focused that perception matched reality. In the real world, that seldom happens! If perception and reality are very close, your brand may be highly effective. If there are disconnects, you may need to tweak or revitalize your brand.
There is one major common denominator I have found in my career coaching clients that I talked about heavily in my recent Keynote speech for a national health conference for Virginia Tech. It is called the desire for fulfillment. I personally believe the lack of fulfillment and the depression that sets in is one of our biggest health issues today.
The Expert Speakers' Karin Cross talks about how gratitude can make a big difference in our lives.
Many people equate a logo with their company’s brand. But branding is so much more than the brand mark or word mark. Your brand represents who you are and sets expectations for consumers—it is your promise to the consumer. The brand must be well defined and carry through to all touchpoints. Your logo, store design, website, and even your tone of voice when communicating—both verbally and in writing—must all represent your brand. First impressions are critical; whether the consumer calls you, emails, receives a direct mail piece or checks your website, your brand must shine through to show the best of your business.
Raleigh, NC – Jeanne Frazer, president of vitalink®, will be recognized as a 2016 Treasure Her Legacy of Elegance Award Honoree at the 4th Annual Treasure Her Elegance Grand Tea™ benefiting The SISI. The theme of this year’s event is Treasuring the Selfless Sacrifice of the Caregiver.
“I am so honored to have been chosen as a Treasure Her Legacy Honoree,” says Frazer. “The other Honorees are all accomplished professionals and I proud to be recognized among them. As a cancer survivor, I’m very aware of how difficult it can be for patients to go through the cancer ‘journey’ and how important the caregivers are in the process. The SISI is a fabulous organization that helps cancer patients have one less worry by giving back in the form of transportation assistance. This is a great cause!” The SISI is a 501(c)3 public charity whose mission is "Transportation Assistance Across the Colors of Cancer." They help cancer patients get transportation assistance to medical appointments, chemo and radiation toward survivorship without regard for cancer type, ethnicity, age or gender.
The 4th Annual Treasure Her Elegance Grand Tea will be held on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. at the Grand Marquise Ballroom in Garner, NC. This is a hats, gloves and PEARLS event, open to both men and women. Stephanie Glance, Executive Director of The Kay Yow Cancer Fund will be the Keynote Speaker, and Toni Mozingo will host the event. This year’s event will focus on the role of caregivers in the cancer journey. Tickets may be purchased online at www.treasureherelegance.com. Questions may be directed to Terry W. Spicer, Founder & Executive Director at 919-801-4842. The Grand Tea is The SISI’s primary fundraiser.
vitalink (www.vitalinkweb.com) is a branding + strategic marketing think tank based in Raleigh, North Carolina, with offices in Huntington, West Virginia. Founded in 1996, vitalink partners with colleges + universities, non-profits, membership organizations, law firms, small businesses and other types of companies to vitalize their brands. vitalink and its team members give back to the community on a regular basis.
If you are a legitimate non-profit or a university looking to grow your donor base, it’s important to understand how potential donors see you, i.e., do you look credible? what value will they get from supporting your cause?
We recommend stepping back on a regular basis to take an honest look at your organization. Do some research and find out if your perception is the same as potential donors, clients and volunteers outside the organization. Here are a few things to consider:
A graphic designer will start by asking you what you like, what colors you want to use and gather some additional basic information about your company and preferred style. They will then come up with a few designs for you to choose from and call it done.
Branding takes the design to the next level and flows it out through your entire organization. Your brand should represent who you truly are. It takes some research to get to this level, and works best when you have input from outside stakeholders. We don’t always see ourselves the way others do, and that disconnect can sabotage your brand.
Non-profits (and small businesses!) start off with limited funding. Paid staff members and volunteers may all work separately to get the word out. Brand quality and consistency often suffer during these early days, and it can be a challenge to go back and adjust that first impression of the brand.
Here are three reasons branding is so important for non-profits, and what you can do to carry your brand throughout your efforts: