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Authenticity is at the root of the most successful brands. That’s why part of our branding process is a deep dive into your soul as a business owner. What are your values? Why do you do it all? Why is your company important to your customers?

It’s a word that gets thrown out a lot, but what is authenticity? We believe it means ignoring what others are doing (to an extent) and focusing on improving your offerings and relationships with customers in a way that makes sense to your business. We believe it means being in the long game. We believe it means showing your human side.

Mailchimp recently created a whole campaign around the concept of doing things your way. For them, that was to have a little fun with their name.

Why is this campaign successful? Beyond the insane good creative direction and execution, it’s successful because it shows businesses how to have fun with their brand. It also shows us how to be human. Mailchimp is a HUGE organization, that speaks to you like a friend. We are all people in the end. Whether a CEO or intern, we’re driven by emotion. I want to like who I’m partnering with, or buying services from, or investing in. And I can’t like them, if I don’t know them.

What does “authentic” look like to your business? Is there a possibility you could open up a bit more in your brand? Maybe you can dig a little deeper and share your companies values. Let your customers get to know your company more, and thus like you more. Baffled on how to start? We can help.

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So you need a logo? Awesome!

We have more questions. What is your company’s promise, the vision, the uniqueness factor? Once we have these (and many other) questions answered, we work to develop visuals that tell that brand’s story. Of course, a logo will be part of it. However, fonts, images, colors, textures, custom illustrations, messaging, tone of voice, delivery methods, even employee training, etc all contribute to the success of a brand. So, we think big picture!

Thinking big picture is the best way to create a strong brand.

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If you try to accomplish too much with the logo alone, it will end up busy and confusing your audience. Or worse, you’ll end up in the safe zone. You know, that place you land when you’re trying not to be too fun, or too stiff, or too lighthearted, etc. The safe zone usually involves committees, and ends in Helvetica, or Gotham, and often black and white. Not a good zone. Sure, it doesn’t offend anyone, but it also doesn’t ignite anyone.

So, instead, create a logo that is a clear, yet adaptable, tone-setter. You can build the rest of the story (lighthearted and youthful, professional yet small) with messaging, images and secondary graphics.

Final thought: Think of your logo like a good pair of jeans. Simple, iconic, fitting to your personality (hipster / mom / skater / cowboy) but also a blank canvas for an array of outfits depending on your mood. It’s the outfits, complete with accessories and shoes, etc. that tell the story, create the vibe, and attract the tribe.

Do you need a logo brand?

 

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From our work with an exciting new coworking space downtown, and our following of the soon to be open Public Square Coffee House right around the corner from our La Mesa office, it feels like the idea of “community” is surrounding me lately. The concept is an important one, as often studies and films have show it as a measure of happiness. It’s deep rooted in our physiological needs to be a part of a community where we feel safe, valued and connected: a place where we belong.

Good brands know this. When I was studying advertising, it was a one-directional conversation. It’s been so uplifting to see the industry shift over the years to less telling, and more discussing; less what, and more why. There’s more transparency and accountability. The shift has forced companies to think about what is important to them, and why that matters to their customers. Thanks to technology advances, we can get to know our customers better, to alter our behaviors and offerings to suit them. It’s not only more cost effective than large advertising campaigns, but it’s more impactful.

We will continue to encourage our clients to foster community in their own brands, from they way their employees work with customers, to how they promote themselves. It’s a simple idea, but a strong asset for growing companies.

 

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They say any PR is good PR, but if you aren’t getting high quality media outlets to present you in a positive tone, then you should be doing something to move the needle. We helped the founder of BAM Communications design a simple graph that she uses at her PR company to remind her team of the ideal quadrant to keep their clients in. Forbes ran it as well, calling it “A Graph Summing Up What You Need To Know About Public Relations”

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When you set out to brand your new company, or product, what should you focus on? What should your brand stand for and who should it attract? I always advise clients to avoid being too general. What I typically hear in response is, “but I don’t want to alienate potential customers.” Especially true of new and untested concepts, there is a fear that trying to attract a specific segment, or pushing a specific product or product feature, will hurt the potential for broad success in the market.

For product offerings, we’ve seen just the opposite is true. Dollar shave club, Groupon, Google, Timbuk2, and many other current success stories started offering one thing done right, then they expanded.

It’s true of the brand and messaging as well. Offer one solid promise, to one specific segment of the market. It will preferably be a promise that isn’t offered in the current landscape, and deliver on that promise. Once you have the trust of your loyal followers, then you can broaden your approach if it makes sense.

Laura Ries wrote an article for Entrepreneur.com, where she suggests that branding starts, grows and wins in the mind of the prospect. In this article she asks, “How can we focus on one thing we can own in the mind?” The main takeaway overall of this article is “own the mind” in a category, and be first in that category. But she also offers a suggestion for when you aren’t first to launch, and are competing with others in the space. Her suggestion speaks to my point about being specific.

“Narrow your focus. BMW narrowed its focus to “driving” and became the largest-selling luxury-vehicle brand in the world. Subaru narrowed its focus to “four-wheel drive” and became the most successful automobile brand on the American market, in terms of market-share increases. Subaru even outsold Volkswagen in 2015 by 40 percent.”

By narrowing your brand’s focus, you can win in the mind of your prospects.

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One of our favorite, and most delicious, clients Kensington Brewing Company has opened a tasting room. Come taste what they are brewing!

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Formally Jen Derks Design, we’ve got a new name and new look. We feel this change will allow room for growth and a high caliber team to support your projects. We are very excited about this change and we’d love to hear your feedback! Let us know what you think at chat@fourfincreative.com

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An informative flow chart for PR hopefuls that we created for BAM communications was recently published on FastCompany.com. Do you have anything worthy of Media Coverage?

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