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Tag Archives: brand

Drop the goldfish

goldfish shoal

As cliches go, it’s top of our list. We’ve got nothing against goldfish, (in fact, we used to like them) but they make pretty boring pets and equally dull pictures on your website.

Over recent years they’ve come to represent ‘we’re different’ in a very samey way, particularly in the consultancy space where we have lots of clients. Now, whenever we see goldfish on a website, we don’t think, ‘they’re refreshingly original,’ we think, ‘zzzzzzzz.’

Goldfish aren’t the only offenders. Other visual snooze buttons include:

Jigsaw pieces to represent ‘we make connections/we’re a crucial part of a bigger whole.’

Molecules to represent ‘what we do is technical/scientific/so complicated to explain that we won’t even try.’

Chain
to represent ‘we’re the missing link between x and y’

Handshake to represent ‘we are as good as our word.’

Stock shots of offices that aren’t your own to represent ‘we work in an office.’

Magnifying glasses on newspapers
to represent ‘we pay attention to detail/your news page.’

Hands on a computer keyboard to represent ‘we work on computers/we’re up to date technology-wise.’

This list goes on. We’re sure you’ve got your own un-favourites, please do share them below.

The serious point to this is that design and content need to work together. The right words can explain exactly how you are original and different far better than a hackneyed visual cliche. Clever design engages and makes connections so you really can drop the goldfish.

And just like a good writer has an extended vocabulary, good designers look beyond page one of the stock shots to find arresting and relevant ways to illustrate your message. It means a longer thinking phase, with writer and designer working together to find new metaphors to illustrate your proposition, but that’s good news for you and your business. Thought and collaboration creates stronger brands and smarter websites – and that’s got to be good.

At Valuable Content we work closely with excellent designers. If you’d like us to help with your web project, call me on 07985 015300

More articles to help you with your website:

Seven signs you website needs spring cleaning

How to make your homepage a hit

Five ways to make me leave your website immediately

How to write your About Us page

Five things your newsletter needs

dustbin

A good newsletter is a great communication tool. A dull one goes straight into the trash. Here’s how to make yours stand out.

Think about why you’re producing the newsletter. If it’s just because you think you ought to, the chances are it won’t succeed. Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with customers, reward clients, share knowledge, demonstrate expertise, convert warm leads into sales….so make up your mind what your goal is before you start.

Having a clear aim in sight makes it much easier to create relevant content that targets your readership and makes a real connection.

Authenticity

Chances are your business isn’t the only one offering your services. True uniqueness is rare. But it will have qualities that make you different from your competitors, and these need to shine through in your newsletter. Create content that spotlights the way your service is different. Demonstrate how your particular focus helps your clients.

Voice

Write it well, in a voice that reflects your brand guidelines. In practice this probably means finding a designated person in your business to write it every month, or outsourcing it to a good copywriter. (What is doesn’t mean is passing it round the office so that everyone can write their bit.) Consistency, accuracy and style count.

Brand

Newsletters have a privileged position in your communications toolbox. Your clients have signed up for it, they’re already interested in you. But just because you’re preaching to the converted it doesn’t mean you can churn out any old sermon. Treat the newsletter with as much attention to your brand values as you would your website, or special marketing campaign.

Design

Invest in design – just because they’ve signed up for it doesn’t mean they’ll read it. A good designer will work with your writer to make the content engaging, accessible, and easy to navigate They’ll work together to create headlines that draw people in, and make sure the page is balanced and reader-friendly.

I can help you get started with your newsletter. A new perspective is often helpful when you’re trying to define goals and identify brand strengths. Or I can write it for you. Do call if you think I can help – 07985 015300

Writing for new business start ups

cutting the ribbon on a new venture

Sometimes you can be too close to a great idea to see how to market it. Your unique selling point can become buried under everything else that goes with starting out on a new venture.

It’s all about communication. Expressing your idea in language that speaks to your potential clients.

Often less is more. One great image can often say more than a page of explanation. Like distilling, branding concentrates the essence of your proposition into something truly potent.

I can help you define your offer, and capture it in compelling marketing material, sales letters, web copy and brochures.

Five ways to get people loving your links…

I love Twitter. You can pack lots into 140 characters, but what if you want to say more? Here are my top five ways for making the most of your link articles and blog pieces.

  1. Be relevant. Tell people something they want to hear. A big point of social media is brand building, but it’s not enough just to be there and shout a lot. Think about how your brand connects with people, and tell the stories that reinforce those connections.
    Consider what would be interesting for your audience, and tailor your stories to fit.
  2. Be precise, (and deliver). Have a point and get to it. Give useful information concisely. I hate it when I click on a link that promises to tell me something, and then five paragraphs on I’m no closer to knowing. Twitter offers access limitless knowledge, but it disappoints when the piece you thought was going to be useful meanders into nothing. Be one of the good guys, and deliver exactly what you say you will.
  3. Be fast. Twitter is quick-fire stuff. Users interact with it differently from other medium. Once you’ve squeezed the essence of your message into a zesty 140 characters, don’t let up the pace and let the link be wishy-washy. If I’m posting a link on Twitter I imagine an impatient reader, with potentially more interesting reads circling them like planes over Heathrow. Make your point quickly and move on.
  4. Be numerate. Pace again, busy lives. No points for originality, but breaking it down into bite-sized chunks and putting it in a numbered list gets Twitter hits. Top tens are memorable, and easily grasped. Top Fives are even quicker. It’s the promise of learning something quickly that Twitter does so well, so use it to your advantage.
  5. Be original. Develop your own voice. Find a different angle. Be clearer than the rest. Or bolder. Or more empathetic. And remember, just because it seems obvious to you, it won’t be obvious to everyone else. Your perspective is unique. Your followers want to know more about you, so share your ideas.