brand story engagement 4 phases

4 Phases of Brand Story Engagement

A good brand story is important… You only have one Brand Community. You understand who they are, what they want or need from you, where they are coming from, their motivations and where the best touchpoint is with each to be effective with your communications.

Each phase of your relationship with these people requires a different kind of storytelling. It’s the same brand story, because it has to be to be consistent and authentic, but it needs to be in a form that is appropriate for achieving the strategic goals of the phase you are in!

brand story engagement 4 phases


Phase #1: “First Contact” —
In the world of business communications, the current wisdom is that you have eight seconds or less to hook the interest of a prospect. So the first form that your story needs to take is distilling an aspect of the value you potentially offer a target group into a singular, resonate way.

  • Be disciplined: pick a single storyline that will make them want to know more and stick to it!
  • Keep it simple: At glance, most stories can be overwhelming, so don’t try to be too conceptual or “clever”.
  • Make it personal: Sharing something that feels intimate and familiar engages with folks on a better level.
  • Use images: As overused of a phrase as it may be, it’s true, “a picture tells a thousand words,” as long as the image helps tell the story rather than being simply an attention grabber.

Phase #2: “Reflect Their Needs” —
If you’re successful at first contact, then the next phase will determine if the prospect is driven to learn more about you and whether you will be in the consideration set in the future. Make sure your company website, social media profiles, presentations, and more, give them what they need.

  • Really show yourselves: Don’t be safe, be thrilling and unconventional!
  • Create brand filters: Make sure your content honors the brand position and story you have committed to.
  • Tell your story well: Is it easy for them to understand quickly what you do and what makes you different than your competition?
  • Create dialog: It’s essential at this stage to convert your company monolog, which websites and social media profiles and advertising tend to be, into a dialog where you are on the listening end.

Phase #3: “Make It Personal” —
It’s all about listening. But listening is just the start. Responding to the specific needs of the client or consumer makes them feel their thoughts are being heard.

  • Make your brand story theirs: As hard as it is to cede some ownership to others, building a truly community-driven story with everyone’s perspectives helps straighten your brand.
  • Guide and inspire: Inclusion doesn’t mean letting go of your story, it opens up a wealth of work related to guiding and inspiring people to tell your story well.
  • Engage respectfully: As much as I love some brands, they are not a primary relationship in my life. So make good use of the ever more sophisticated content management systems available.

Phase #4: “Stay In Touch” —
Once you complete the herculean task of building a healthy, sustainable brand community through great brand storytelling, make sure to keep the fires burning with your brand advocates.

  • Identify primary touchpoints: Make sure you are clear about the best way to stay in touch.
  • Manage the story flow: Make sure you are achieving your strategies by monitoring the type and frequency of your storytelling.
  • Constantly adjust: Use qualitative and quantitative insights to refine your storytelling to keep it relevant.
  • Keep the heat on: Every time you communicate is a new chance to engage, inspire and stimulate meaningful dialog

In the end, great brand storytelling is about being authentic, intentional, strategic and meaningful. The best way to ensure success is to make all storytelling relevant to the moment.

web design mistakes

3 Web Design Mistakes That Could Lead to Lost Revenue

So, you’ve started your own business. Congrats! You’ve put all your ideas out into the world and now you’re just waiting to hit the big time! But, are you seeing the results you were hoping for or has business been slower than expected? If it’s the latter then maybe you’ve made some crucial web design mistakes for your businesses that you may not be aware of. 

To help you stay focused on fully developing your businesses website and helping it reach its full potential in terms of web design, in this post, I’m laying out three common mistakes small businesses make quite often and showing you how to optimize your online strategy in order to reach your full potential.

web design mistakes


Simply having a ‘functioning’ website doesn’t cut it in today’s world; It’s simply the bare minimum your business will need to survive. You want to do more than survive, you want to thrive right? In order for this to happen, you’ll need to develop a website that’s responsive – meaning that whether individuals are viewing your site from their desktop, smartphone, or tablet, their experience will be an enjoyable one and the site will translate well on any screen size. How about some stats? Around 94% of users cited that unattractive web designs are the main reason they’ll reject a site altogether and 48% consider it to be the number one factor of determining a business’s credibility. Those are some pretty eye-opening stats, for sure.

#2. — READILY AVAILABLE CTA (calls to action)

When it comes to this, you need to start asking “why”. Why are you developing a website for your small business? Do you want visitors to book an appointment, request a quote or sign up for your newsletter? Then lead them to this desired action! Depending on your main conversion goal, there should be appropriate calls-to-action throughout your website.

Your website should be able to direct users to the next step that should be taken once they have arrived. This allows for users to immediately be able to get further information on the business without any hassle of browsing the website any more than they need to.


The main reason businesses develop websites is to further their reach and gain additional clients and/or customers. For this reason, it’s imperative that you make it easy for visitors to contact you; they shouldn’t have to sift through 6 tabs of your website to find your phone number. Consider the use of big, bold buttons that lead to a contact page, and, it’s usually a good idea to include at least some primary (or main) contact info in the footer of your site. This ensures that it is visible on all pages.

To sum it all up…

These days, consumers have very high expectations when visiting a website, so, you need to make sure you deliver a seamless UX (user experience), accessible and clearly defined contact information, and attention-grabbing calls-to-action (when appropriate) throughout your company’s site. Ensuring these three crucial features will lead to increased conversions, happier customers/clients, and overall better brand loyalty for your business.


rebranding evolution

Pros & Cons of Rebranding: What You Should Know

Rebranding a company is no longer as simple as tweaking your logo and slapping the new version onto your website. With so many online marketing channels available today, the process of rebranding your company image has become much more complex.

In addition to updating your logo on your website, you will likely have to update it on several different online applications, and that is only the beginning. There is a long list of additional and tedious updates that must be completed across all of your online facing applications. These updates must also be completed in a timely manner, and must be communicated clearly to existing and potential customers so as to avoid any confusion or inconsistency.


With all of that being said; there are definitely times when rebranding is needed. With a comprehensive rebranding strategy and the help of experienced brand strategists, the rebranding process can be quite smooth and efficient. However, it’s important to understand the many pros and cons of rebranding. It’s also important to recognize the importance of having a carefully developed rebranding strategy, in addition to having a well-organized timeline for implanting the rebranding process. In this article, we will look specifically on the Cons of rebranding and how you can try t minimize the downsides of the process.

rebranding evolution


One of the most difficult parts about rebranding your company is that it involves a lot of change all at once. That is never easy for a company, its employees, or its customers. When things don’t exactly go as planned, there are a few possible issues that could result:

1. Confusion can bring chaos.

Change is scary, mainly because no one knows for sure what the end result will be. People can become easily confused and/or frustrated whenever change occurs. By publishing press releases, posting announcements to social media, sending email newsletters, etc., you can keep everyone aware of what’s going on, and what’s coming down the pike. Communication is crucial!

2. You may lose a few customers.

If a proper rebranding strategy is not built and implemented the right way, you risk losing some of your existing customers. Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, there is still a possibility that you could lose customers. Why? People don’t like change.

3. Be prepared to spend some money.

Going through a complete rebrand is NOT cheap. Be prepared to spend money on developing a creative rebranding strategy, new content, graphic design, as well as marketing and advertising campaigns to support your project. While there are ways to save money during a rebrand, it is definitely worth investing some money to ensure that it is done effectively!

Let’s take a look at a recent example, from my alma mater, Virginia Tech, that had sparked mixed reviews and a lot of negative input:

rebranding virginia tech

Many alumni and students at the university were/are pretty angry about this. “Why fix something that’s not broken?”, “why did we waste $1 million on rebranding? Couldn’t that money have been used for better purposes?!” and things of that nature have been communicated throughout social media. But, The university had a specific reason in mind. Again, as we said earlier in this article, people do not like change. I have to admit, I did not like this at all when I first saw it a few days ago, but, I’m coming around.

Although I am sure that Virginia Tech did not get all of the glowing reviews and 100% positive input on the new rebranding effort they were looking for, it may take time, but, folk will eventually come along to the new brand identity. When looking at the three listed possible cons of a rebranding effort, the only one that seems to stick out is the money issue. Other than that, people just are not very receptive to change, and it takes time for them to warm up to a major change. This is perhaps one of the biggest pitfalls of rebranding, but, it is one that usually dies down over a short time-frame and doesn’t necessarily lead to and significant lingering negative effects to a brand or company.


When done right, rebranding a company is absolutely worth it. However, it’s important to be clear about what you hope to accomplish before you begin, and to be as transparent as possible throughout the transition. Your customers will want to hear how it’s going, so be sure to keep them in the loop. This will ensure communication remains a priority and people are not “shocked” by a sudden, complete change. Especially if your rebrand will include more than just a couple simple tweaks.

5 digital marketing mistakes

5 Digital Marketing Mistakes Brands Should Avoid Making

Digital marketing mistakes are easy to make. We all know that digital marketing moves fast, and because of that, there’s a tendency to always look towards the next best thing and focus less on the lessons of the past.

But developing an awareness and understanding of past mistakes is one of the best ways to pave a path to future success. When we look at how brands have run their digital marketing campaigns in the past, we’ve noticed many of the same issues coming up time and time again. Being aware of the most common digital marketing mistakes can help ensure your brand avoids them in the future, so with that in mind, here are some of the biggest missteps brands routinely make.

1 – Failing to set goals

Before you jump into executing your digital marketing campaigns, you need to establish what your objectives are and outline a set of measurable goals that support each objective. Without goals, you’ll never be able to measure your success or identify areas where your campaigns need additional support or require a shift in strategy. It will also be difficult to justify future digital marketing investment if you can’t demonstrate progress against a set of goals.

2 – Not paying attention to your analytics

When it comes to digital marketing, there’s no such thing as “set it and forget it”. Campaigns require constant maintenance and oversight, and that means checking in regularly to measure performance. That’s not to say you need to sweat every single day-to-day change in your website visitor metrics, but you should be paying attention to macro trends. It’s important to focus on the whole picture when it comes to campaign and channel performance. For example, the channel that provides the highest volume of traffic may provide the lowest quality of leads, so looking just at referring traffic won’t give you a holistic understanding of performance.

5 digital marketing mistakes

3 – Failing to test

Many of us leap to conclusions about why something is or isn’t performing without doing the proper legwork to find out for sure. Leaping to conclusions about what works and what doesn’t is a  mistake that can have serious ramifications for the success of campaigns. Making testing a priority is the best way to ensure marketing spends are put to good use and campaigns are given the best chance to thrive.

4 – Jumping on every hot new trend

In digital marketing, there’s always a delicate balance between staying current and jumping on the bandwagon. Staying on top of the trends and changes in the industry is an absolute necessity if you want to be successful in digital marketing.

That said, one mistake many brands make is to assume that just because a certain platform or technology is trendy, they should automatically add it to their marketing mix. The truth is that it’s a bad idea to blindly follow the latest trends without first gaining an understanding of how implementing a new idea or technology will benefit your brand. Be aware of the latest news in digital marketing, but don’t jump on a trend before you get a sense of how it will impact your strategy.

5 – Targeting the wrong audience

You have to spend time getting to know the audience you’re speaking to. What are their pain points? What types of language appeals to them? What words do they use to describe what they’re looking for? Knowing the answers to these questions is key to designing campaigns that will appeal to the people you’re trying to reach.

Click here to view the full article via! — Article originally published on by Gabriel Shaoolian

marketing and advertising opioid epidemic

The Opioid Epidemic: When Marketing & Advertising Turn Deadly

You may have heard about a big problem currently facing our country. It’s called the Opioid Epidemic, and it’s a deadly problem. In 2015, opioid overdose deaths surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in our country, officially climbing past the 30,000 mark. But how did we get to this point? Let’s take a look.

There are a lot of things that share the blame in this. Overprescribing, crooked doctors, societal attitudes, lack of education on the issue, and things like genetics all play a role. But, one of the main factors behind this epidemic lies in the advertising and marketing practices drug makes used to sell and promote their products.

A bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country are investigating the role that pharmaceutical companies played in creating and prolonging the opioid epidemic. The probe, which is led by AG offices in Washington D.C. and Tennessee and includes the majority of states, will focus on whether the marketing and sale of prescription painkillers was unlawful.

According to a Wall Street Journal articleabout the investigation, “The multi-state effort is months in the making, according to people familiar with the matter, and subpoenas have already been issued against some targets. The probe is in the investigatory stage and could lead to litigation, though such investigations can be protracted and don’t necessarily lead to lawsuits in every instance.” 

Public health experts have long blamed today’s widespread addiction to opioids—including painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl—on overzealous marketing and liberal prescribing of opioid painkillers, starting with the introduction of OxyContin in the mid-90s.

marketing and advertising opioid epidemic

This is far from the first type of investigation looking into this or similar matters, and it certainly won’t be the last. Just last month, the state of Ohio sued five pharmaceutical companies,—including Purdue Pharma (maker of OxyContin), Endo Health Services (Percoset, Opana), and Johnson & Johnson (Duragesic)—accusing them of misleading doctors and patients about the dangers of painkiller addiction. As a recent Bloomberg article noted, over the past year alone, more than 20 US states, counties, and cities have sued opioid manufacturers claiming that their deceptive marketing contributed to today’s public health crisis.

The drugs used to only be used primarily for acute, or short-term pain (such as post-op pain, broken bones, etc…), but over the last two decades, doctors have increasingly prescribed them to treat chronic pain, giving them to patients for months or years at a stretch — Even decades. Drug makers promoted that change, spending “millions of dollars on promotional activities and materials that falsely deny or trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain.”

Pharmaceutical companies surely aren’t the only ones to blame for this mess, but, they played a big role in it. If taking a look at the advertising, marketing, and promotional techniques that were being used is what it takes to make some changes, then so be it. If drug companies willingly misled practitioners and the general public on the dangers and addictive potential of these medications, they need to be held accountable. 

For marketers and advertisers, this is a stark reminder of just how powerful messaging can be. It’s also a grim reminder that in the wrong hands, these tools and trades can be used for evil. We must always be cognizant of the possible repercussions that our advertising and marketing techniques may have, and the possible negative consequences that can come from it.

what is brand identity?

What is Brand Identity? And How to Develop a Great One

Just like your personal identity makes you uniquely you, your brand identity is what sets you apart from every other company or organization on the block. Your brand identity design is what shapes your company!

But what exactly is brand identity? How do you shape a strong brand identity that takes your business to the next level?

The terms “brand,” “branding,” and “brand identity” are sometimes treated as interchangeable, but that’s not always the case.

  • Brand is the perception of the company in the eyes of the world.

  • Branding involves the marketing practice of actively shaping a distinctive brand.

  • Brand identity is the collection of all brand elements that the company creates to portray the right image of itself to the consumer.

brand identity system

Let’s say you are a middle school student. As an awkward pre-adolescent, you want to be perceived as cool and get invited to sit at the best table in the cafeteria. But you can’t just force other people to have that image of you. In order to develop this brand, you need to do some work.

Maybe you start shaping up on your free throw skills, then you start working on a hilarious impression of Mrs. Smith, your history teacher. These actions are the work you’re putting towards developing your desired image; your branding.

Last but not least, you need to make sure you look the part. You save up your money to buy the newest hot basketball shoes everyone wants. You get a new hairstyle. You try out for (and join) the schools hottest sports team. Those tangible elements—the shoes, the hair style, the sports team membership— all of that is your brand identity.

Your brand identity is what makes you instantly recognizable to your customers. Your audience will associate your brand identity with your product or service, and that identity is what forges the connection between you and your customers, builds customer loyalty, and determines how your customers will perceive your brand.

So, how do you develop a strong brand identity? — Know who you are.

Before you know what tangible elements you want to make up your brand identity, you need to know who you are as a brand. This made up of a few key elements:

1. Your mission (the “why?”)

2. Your values (what beliefs or belief systems drive you?)

3. Your “brand voice” (how would your brand talk if it were an actual, human person)

4. Your brand personality (if your brand was a person, what would their personality be like?)

All of these things combined are what define your brand, and before you start building on your brand identity, it’s important you have a clear understanding of each of them.

Once you’ve locked in who you are as a brand, it’s time to build the identity that will bring your brand to life and show who you are to the people who matter most: your customers. The next step in the process is brand design, and putting together a brand style guide, but that’s a blog for another time. Stay tuned!