Category Archives: Branding

The psychology of colour in marketing and branding

The psychology of colour as it relates to persuasion is one of the most interesting – and most controversial – aspects of marketing.

Yellow is psychologically the happiest colour in the spectrum

Ever wondered what attracts you to an advert/poster? The first thing that will draw your attention will be the colour.

According to, “colour has an enormous effect on our attitudes and emotions because when our eyes take in colour they communicate with a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which sends a message to the pituitary gland and sets off an emotion.”

It claimed that colour has a powerful psychological influence on the human brain, mentally, physically, consciously and subconsciously. These responses to colour can be used to the advantage of marketeers to illicit the desired response to their marketing campaigns.

“The affects of colour on our well-being are well documented,” it said. “Red and Green, ‘society and nature’ have been wired so deeply into our subconscious that no two other colours have such opposing meanings. The most obvious example of this is traffic lights – this combination is used worldwide. Sometimes the connection is not so obvious, but red is often used to reject, disagree, remove, close and cancel. On the other hand, green is a positive colour associated with yes, accept, go, add and agree. Words often just clarify the meaning.”

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Colours are also considered to have a temperature. Warm colours often consist of pale green through yellows to deep red, and cool colours from dark purple, blues to dark green.

“Understanding how the mind works is an important integral part of marketing,” maintained “Consequently, it’s extremely important that you consider the colour palette of your brand before printing your corporate brand material whether that’s internal newsletters or company letterheads.”

Top colour tips

1) Investigate your industry’s colours

When you look at the business cards and websites of different companies you’ll begin to notice that businesses which operate within the same field of industry utilise similar colour schemes. This is no coincidence; business leaders opt for particular colours because they invoke certain feelings for customers.

For instance, blue is the predominant colour used by social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, due to its subconscious associations with logic, calm and communication. As Karen Haller, a business colour and branding expert stated, “blue relates to the mind, so consumers associate it with logic and communication. It’s also serene, like the ocean, and calming to look at”.

Consequently, before designing your printed material you should investigate the predominant colour schemes associated with your industry and incorporate these tones within your design.

2) Use primary colours for calls to action

A study by Kissmetrics revealed that the highest converting colours for calls to action are bright primary and secondary colours such as red, yellow, orange and green. Due to the fact that these vibrant colours attract attention, it’s useful to incorporate them within your business card design and website calls to action in order to capture the interest of your key consumers – and to encourage them to investigate your brand in greater depth.

3) Be consistent

From your business card printing to your company website, it’s important to promote cohesion and unity with all aspects of your brand’s overall design. For example, when you’re designing your business cards, you should aim to incorporate colour schemes and design traits that currently exist within your company website’s graphic design.

By doing so, you can begin to establish your brand’s reputation and its subconscious colour associations within the minds of your key consumers. Although this may seem like a minor aspect of your direct mail and digital branding strategies, over time it could earn you the loyalty, recommendations and return custom of a broad consumer base.

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Posted by on September 4, 2015 in Artwork Design, Branding


10 ways to improve your brand image

Before we start it’s very important that you realize one thing: You have to be brutally honest with yourself. Or rather, with your brand.

You will probably read through these 10 points and think: “Yes, I’m actually doing all those things so I should be fine.” In fact, most of our new clients that we speak to think the same. Until we ask them to apply their reasoning honestly and all of a sudden the cracks start to appear.

In order to get the most of these tips we always suggest that you look at your brand or business from an outside perspective. Pretend you are a potential customer and you’re looking for a particular product or service that your company happens to offer. The big question is: Compared to your competitors, would you buy from you or from them?

We’d also suggest that you take on a professional agency to help you with your brand image. You’ll have to spend the money but if the design agency or brand consultancy you choose is only half decent at what they do you’ll have spent your money very wisely. Also keep in mind that if it’s done properly you’ll only have to spend your money once and should be set up for a long time and it will make future rebrands a lot easier and cost-effective.


1. First impressions are paramount

An age-old statement, we know, but it’s so true. Without trying to bore you, scientific evidence can even back this statement up. For example, in a particular experiment people were shown a number of websites for just a split second and based on what they saw in that very limited amount of time were asked to note down which sites they would like to explore further. The number of ‘good looking’ sites that came out on top was overwhelming. Next they were given the opportunity to spend a whole 10 minutes looking at each website again and were asked to make a choice as to which company they would most likely end up working with. Interestingly, most of them went with their initial split second choice, even when the information, services or products being offered were not as good as the other ‘less-good-looking’ websites. This is called the Halo effect. Simply speaking, human nature dictates that people don’t like being wrong and will often substantiate their first decision or impression by focusing on the positives and even overriding or blocking out any negative points Now, this is all a bit technical so the way we tend to explain this point to our clients is that you wouldn’t wear a pair of flowery shorts to an important business meeting would you? So why would you allow your brand to do that? Just because you or your company are extremely good (or even the best) at what you do doesn’t necessarily mean that potential customers can see that by looking at you.


2. What emotions are you selling?

It is however very important to differentiate between a brand that just looks very good or striking and a brand that looks like it can deliver what it promises. And it’s the latter that you should really focus on. In short, your brand image should be based on what your customer expects or wants to see and not necessarily what you would like to see. Just because you personally really like the colour green doesn’t mean it works for your type of business. Your brand should not convey your own personal feelings or likes but should speak to your market in a way that they like to be spoken to. It’s also very important that you think beyond the actual services / products you’re offering and think about the emotion your clients are buying in to. For example, if you’re in the construction business your customers aren’t just buying a building from you, they’re buying reliability, solidity and strength. Similarly, if you’re running a medical centre your clients aren’t just looking for a medical professional but are looking for ease of mind, care, trust and cleanliness. This may sound pretty obvious but we come across a surprisingly large number of clients who have not applied this kind of thinking to their company’s image. Once you have defined your brand’s ‘emotions’ you can look at ways to portray these. Think about fonts (which ones look clean, strong or professional). Or which colours would best correspond with a certain feeling? What kind of logo shape appears to make you feel a certain way? All these little things together will create a highly successful brand image for you.


3. Big yourself up

Always aim to make your company appear bigger than you really are. Customers are generally attracted to companies that look like they’ve been in business for years, have gained extensive knowledge in their particular field and look like they have a solid workforce or infrastructure in place. You may own a company which only employs 5 people. And these 5 people may be the absolute best at what they do and may even provide a much better service than your competitor who employs 25 staff. But when a customer has to make a choice between your 5-man company or your 25 strong competitor, chances are they won’t come knocking on your door. Why? Because compared to them you don’t look big enough to handle a job. The idea here is that you don’t actually have to lie but simply create a smoke and mirrors effect in order to make the customer feel that they’re dealing with a larger company and make them trust you before they’ve even spoken to you. Think about using certain types on your website and brochures or add strategic partners to your website.


4. Brand values

Creating a predefined set of values is extremely important in getting your brand to work across the entire business spectrum. It informs both your clients as well as your staff of the way things are done in the business and creates a uniform platform from which everyone in the business can do their job. Decide which values apply first and foremost to your business. i.e. professionalism, integrity, easy going, friendly, high standards, pride, etc. and then work them into three or four separate sentences. These should instantly be able to convey to your clients how you operate and what they can expect from a working relationship.


5. A strapline

Encapsulating your entire business offering into a single, short line can be quite a difficult process and may take some time but once you’ve cracked it it’ll do absolute wonders for the brand. Cheesy as some of them may are, we could rattle off 10 different strap lines of big brands and guaranteed you’ll know who they are instantly. So not only is it one of the quickest ways to inform customers about what you do or what you stand for but more importantly it will make them remember the brand. When devising a strap line you’ll have to try and think creatively and again try to focus not on the actual service you’re offering but more on the result of this service as that’s what your customer is really buying off you. I.e. If you sell top of the range lawn-mowers, you actual sell beautifully cut lawns. If you’re an accountant you’re providing financial freedom. If you own a gym you’re offering physical wellbeing, if you sell stationery you sell ‘the little things that keep a business running’. Etc etc.


6. The message

What are you actually trying to say to potential customers? This is the first, but probably the most important, of many sales hurdles you have to overcome in order to get a client to buy into your business or services. If you don’t reel them in at this point you’re very unlikely to get any further so you must get this right. Keep your main sales messaging as short and concise as possible and try to avoid any technical terms or specific industry terminology that ordinary people won’t understand. Remember, once they’re interested they can always find out more about the intricate details of your service offering. Also think again about the emotions you’re selling (point 2) and your brand values and try to work these into your message.


7. Benefits

Always aim to highlight the benefits that your products/services can offer clients and put them on the forefront of any marketing materials. Ultimately this is what they’re most interested in. How will spending money with you benefit my business. THIS IS ALL THEY ARE INTERESTED IN. What do you do, who have you done it for before and what was the impact. If you do anything DO THIS. It is vital to attracting new business. If you get it right it will also dis-empower your competition, create the buying criteria and show potential clients why they should use YOU above all others. This will mean that getting involved in a cost war shouldn’t occur as you have set out why they should use you and therefore why they should pay your prices. This part of the process should take time and make you work hard but when you come out the other end you should have more reasons than ‘We are nice people’.


8. Continuity

It’s vital that customers have the same brand experience regardless of at what point they deal with your company, especially in a business to business environment. This ensures a consistent and reliable business experience meaning customers will always know what to expect from your business. You are creating an important trust between you and your clients and will ultimately make them feel comfortable enough to recommend you to other businesses without the potential fear of putting themselves in a bad light by referring them to an unreliable supplier. Lose this trust and you have a problem. Keep in mind though that brand continuity goes far beyond the look of your website or other sales materials. Think about the way your staff dress or answer the phone, the manner in which your business sends out or chases up on invoices, the place in which you receive clients or have your meetings or the way in which you keep your clients updated with new developments in your industry.


9. Grow with the business

The time will (hopefully) come where your business grows to a size where your brand image no longer accurately reflects how much your business has grown or expanded. At this point it’s worth looking at re-branding. Don’t misunderstand us, we don’t mean starting from scratch again (it’s taken you long enough to create a recognisable brand that people can trust) but look for example at updating your logo, website, stationery and sales materials to make them more contemporary and fit in line with your current developments. Sometimes this simply means changing the images on your website or updating your company fonts a touch. Or it could be that your company colours just need to be brightened up a bit.


10. Don’t stray!

One of the most frustrating and biggest problems we come across is when clients have spent a large amount of time, effort and money on branding or rebranding their business and five or six months down the line have started using different fonts here and there, putting their logo in a different place or have introduced new imagery or colours that do not remotely comply with their own brand guidelines. In effect, they’ve wasted a huge amount of effort and more importantly money on creating a specific brand image only to then change it when they see fit. This defeats the whole exercise. It may appear that setting up corporate/brand guidelines is a rigid structure but in all honesty it needs to be if you want to get the most out of it. Having worked in the advertising industry for a number of years we have worked to such specific guidelines for some of the bigger companies. We can’t name any of these companies as such information is kept confidential but one of the larger software companies have a 400 page document in place for this!




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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Branding



7 Principles to Build a Powerful Brand

The word “brand” is derived from the Old Norse word, “brandr,” which means “to burn.” It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (or brand) onto their products. When some people think about branding, they harken back to the old Wild West days when ranchers branded their cattle. This process still happens today, because it helps both the owner and the public identify whose cattle belongs to whom. Using a hot brand to sear the ranch’s logo onto the side of a cow leaves a lasting mark that everyone can see and remember. Fortunately, building a brand for your book, business, or non-profit isn’t as painful, but it creates the same helpful benefits. Since everyone has a finite brain, people can’t remember everything that they encounter. The average person’s brain is swirling with so much information that they can’t keep track of all the ideas, products, and services around them. So, a brand acts as your ally by creating a mental shortcut that makes you easier to remember. Use the following seven principles to help create a memorable brand that keeps you in the mind of your readers, customers, or donors:

1. You already have a brand whether you like it or not, and it’s usually negative unless you proactively control it. People are branding you everyday, because we all have finite brains and we need a quick way to recall everything around us. Thus, a brand taps into the mental function of remembering things. If you let other people brand you, the outcome will usually be negative, because people don’t fully know who you are. Therefore, you must actively manage your brand to create a perception among leaders of your uniqueness, value, and expertise. Don’t assume that people’s perception of you is positive. It may not be.

2. A great brand should make you stand-out from the myriad of other options. Otherwise, there’s no point in having a brand. This may sound obvious, but many people still overlook this fact. You need a brand that is catchy, memorable, and easy for people to say to someone else. I recommend that you keep your brand tagline to no more than six words. For instance, the brand tagline that I created for my consulting company, WildFire Marketing, is five words: “Spread Your Message Like Wildfire.”

3. A great brand generates a sense of appealing curiosity. Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act. Your brand should generate a positive emotional connection. If you can’t make readers and leaders feel a magnetic attraction, then your brand is bland.

4. A great brand communicates the kind of results you produce for others. It’s not enough to simply have a clever catch-phrase or tagline. Your brand must express how you make other people’s lives better. In the corporate world, top brands achieve this goal. For example, Wal-Mart’s brand is “Save Money…Live Better.” This phrase tells me that my life will better, because I’ll be saving money. Home Depot says, “You can do it. We can help.” Do you see the implied result? Consider the value-laden expression in these brand taglines that I’ve created for some of my clients: “The Stress-Buster,” “Love Wise,” “Storm-Proof Your Life,” and “Strength for the Soul.” The taglines are memorable, and they reflect results.

5. A great brand establishes you as the best choice, such as the “Cadillac” or “Nordstroms” of the industry. Besides being unique, your brand should position you as the best option. When your brand becomes synonymous with quality, then you’ve got a powerful marketing force acting on your behalf.

6. A great brand must reflect your own passion. That’s because you will be solely responsible to get it in front of everyone. No one else can market your brand better than you. It’s like trying on a new dress or a suit. You buy the one that best fits you and makes you feel confident. When you create your brand, you must feel comfortable, positive, and excited to share it with the public.

7. Your brand must appeal primarily to people who have the decision-making power and money to work with you. If your brand appeals to leaders, then you’re on the right track. If not, then it will hinder the growth of your business. Remember that your brand does NOT have to please everyone, including your friends – because your friends don’t hire you for major projects, speaking engagements, or business deals. When you create a powerful brand, you position yourself as the go-to option for a specific need, genre, or interest. This recognition helps separate you from the pack, stay in people’s minds, and stand out in a crowded marketplace. Don’t be bland. Use these seven principles to build an unforgettable brand.


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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Branding


The Ten Principles Of Building Great Products

The best product people have learned through trial and error, have years of experience, are passionate about design, obsessed with the user experience and always on top of the latest tools and technologies

1. Build the right product before you think of building the product right. Don’t waste time in the details of the product features, on the intricacies of the technology you will be using, or on fixing the small issues before you are certain that what you are building is what the market needs.

2. Intuition is important but it is not enough. No matter how good your intuition is even when you are an experienced product designer or manager  you should seek to take advantage of the data available in the market, provided by customers, and available through your competitors. Define a plan of action to iteratively refine and validate your intuition and thesis. There is always a method and a process behind the genius.

3. Understand your product’s value proposition from the outset. How is it going to be different from what already exists in the market? What are the alternatives? How big is the opportunity for your product in its market? Is the timing for your product right? Marty Cagan, in SVPG’s blog lays out ten fundamental questions you can ask to do a useful product opportunity assessment.

4. Ask the customer if he or she would use your product not just if he or she could use it. The Lean Startup Methodology recommends that we ask ourselves  ”should this product be built?” instead of “can this product be built?” We should extend that to the customer. There are a multitude of reasons why someone could use a product but would choose not to because of price, habit, switching costs or any other reason.

5. Prototype your findings in order to be able to interact with customers as well as with internal stakeholders. Your initial goal should be to build a Minimum Viable Product that is good enough to put in front of customers. You must then iterate on it based on testing, measurements and learnings. This is not only a lower cost but also a quicker way to building the right product. Making small measurable changes, testing them quickly and refining the product accordingly is much more effective than making big changes that are more time consuming to build, more difficult to test and more challenging to get rid of if they don’t work.

6. Talk to customers. Yes, that means meet with them, call them, and ask them questions about their habits and needs. Observe them using your competitors’ products and yours at various stages of development. This takes time, but is extremely valuable as you design your product. There are also many tools available to enable you to continue your customer research in a more systematic way, from surveys, to analytics and behaviour tracking, as well as smart customer support and feedback tools.

7. What you remove is as important as what you add. It is critical to learn the “power of saying no” as Tony Fadell, the godfather of the iPod and founder of Nest recently said in an interview. Remember the beauty of the iPod was its simplicity. When you go on the Google homepage, the only thing you can do is search. The strength of the Amazon checkout process is its ease of use and speed. It is the power of simplification.

8. But don’t listen to your customers if it is going to compromise your brand. This is something that I was again reminded of recently at a lunch with the founder of The White Company, Chrissie Rucker, as she was recounting one of the keys to the success of her company, which she built from the ground up and is now worth hundreds of millions. She had received this same advice from Angela Ahrendts while she was the CEO of Burberry.

9. To achieve all of the above, you must build a strong product organization. You need the right people in the right roles in order to conduct your user testing, measure the data, define the features, iterate on development and coordinate the process. Take the time to find these people, train them and design the right processes to be used.

10. Finally, your product should tell a clear, simple and compelling story. People engage with stories not with facts and features. David Rowan, editor of Wired Magazine in the UK, illustrates the impact of great storytelling across various products very well in his talk on why founders need to be storytellers. Think about DeBeers and what they did for the diamond industry by telling the story that the commitment of a man to his wife is represented by the diamond she wears on her finger.

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Branding


5 Tips to Conquer Your Local Market

Now, more than ever, local SEO needs to be a key focus of a local company’s marketing plan. As the number of mobile searches continues to increase, so does the importance of being found through those mobile searches in addition to local searches performed on personal computers.

The search engines are constantly introducing updates and making algorithm changes to bring their users the most accurate and relevant results pertaining to their search. For example, if a consumer located in Los Angeles, California is looking for a dentist and types “Los Angeles dentist” into their smartphone’s search engine, it makes perfect sense that all of the results are dentist offices located in the Los Angeles area, right? Dentist offices located down I-710 in Long Beach aren’t going to be convenient to the consumer.

So, what can those dentists in Los Angeles, and local businesses all over do to get their business at the top of local search results? They can start by following these 5 local SEO tips:

1. Intelligent Keyword Research & Onsite Optimization

Selecting the correct keywords is an important part of the local search engine optimization process. Each business needs to identify the search terms that will result in providing the highest quality visitors to their website or business listing.

Common sense along with keyword research will help uncover the best terms to target. Let’s use a lawyer in Chicago whose main practice area is DUI defense as an example. The term “Chicago lawyer” has a higher monthly search volume than the keyword “Chicago DUI lawyer” but that doesn’t necessarily make it the smart choice. Consumers that search for the terms specific to the practice area are higher quality visitors and have a higher likelihood to turn into a phone call, a consultation, or a client.

Once the best keyword(s) are selected it is time to make sure that the website is properly optimized for them. For the best results the keyword(s) should be used naturally in the title tags, meta description, header tags, and page content. Do not just jam the keyword(s) all over thinking that is going to work. Using the same example as above we will focus on the title tag. An acceptable title tag that includes the main keyword would be “(Lawyers Name): Your Chicago DUI Lawyer | (Site URL),” as it uses the main keyword in a natural and non-spammy way.

2. Complete Local Places Pages

It is no secret that Google+ Places, Yahoo Local, and Bing Places are three of the most important local business directory listings. These are the results that show at the top of the search engine results. If you are a local business then you want to make sure that your business is listed within these results. While many businesses do have these profiles set up, a majority of them do not have them optimized correctly.

When setting up these local business profiles, it is important to fill out all of the information. Do not leave any sections empty or incomplete. Taking the extra time to fully complete the listings will do wonders for long-term local SEO results. Upload videos, images, write a detailed business description making sure to use your keyword(s), and make sure that all of the contact details mirror those on your websites contact page. Also, don’t forget to verify the listings as instructed.

3. Encourage Online Reviews

The local business pages listed above all allow customers to leave detailed reviews, and it is important to encourage your customers to do so. Positive reviews on these pages along with other sites such as play a major role in local SEO.

Don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave a review. If you provided a great experience and or service then most of the time they will be happy to do this. The odds of them doing this are increased if you make it easy for them to find these review websites.

A simple example: Let’s pretend that you own a restaurant and want to make your customers aware of the review sites. At the end of their dining experience have the servers include a little business card sized note along with the customers copy of his or her credit card receipt and bill that simply says, “We hope you enjoyed your time with us today! We would love to hear about your experience!” along with links to the review sites.

4. Accurate Citations & Business Directory Listings

When the search engine discovers a business name, address and phone number on additional business directories, it will begin to assign more authority to that local listing. Do not spam your business details across low quality directories. The name of the game here is quality and authority.

Focus on listing your business on the major directories, making sure to use the same exact format across them all. This is where paying attention to details will reward you.

5. Links & Social Signals

When it comes time to build links to your website remember that this is not a numbers game. The best kind of link is a natural link, and content marketing is a great way to get those. Create a blog on your website and keep it updated constantly. Provide your readers useful information and they will naturally spread it across the web for you. When they begin to share your information on Facebook and Twitter, it creates strong social signals that the search engines love.

Using these easy-to-implement tips can help your business increase its website traffic from local searches. Local SEO takes time and the search engines reward high quality websites that offer a valuable user experience so always keep that in mind. Far too many times businesses will focus more on building a massive amount of links to the website and put the “quality” on the back burner. Focus on creating a website for your customers and use the above tips to optimize it for the search engines.


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Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Branding

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