Archives for July 2014

Choosing the Right Colors for Your Website

Designing a website that works well and appeals to your audience can be a difficult task if you don’t know where to begin. There are so many schools of thought about what the right color is for a particular type of website. Colors evoke emotions, and you want to be careful about which emotions you evoke. The look and feel of your site is almost as important as the content you publish.

Colors Evoke Emotions

When choosing colors you have to let go of what you think you like, and stick with conventional wisdom. Many people who are new to web design want to pick their own favorite colors, and while sometimes it may be a good choice, more often than not it’s just wrong for the audience. Therefore you need to go through some thought before choosing the color scheme for your new website.

Choose Contrasting Colors

The first and most important rule of thumb is to choose contrasting colors for the background and text. Typically it is better if the text is darker than the background. Even online, black text on a light background is the most preferable for online reading, just like it is for offline reading. If you choose to go the opposite route, double check for issues of readability because for many people, reading light colored text on a dark background hurts their eyes.

Use Natural Colors

Lime green and bright glowing orange aren’t really natural colors and can look quite harsh on a computer monitor. You can use toned down versions of these colors as contrasting colors if you’re careful about how you arrange them. But psychedelic colors are best left to posters, and not used online due to the eye strain they can cause. You’ve probably clicked away from a website due to the immediate pain brought to your eyes due to harsh color combinations.

Use No More than 3 or 4 Colors

A good example of a nice color palette can be found on paint samples. You’ll see that they’ll go from light to dark of the same color. Going with the same idea that you’d use to paint your house or your office, choosing a color palette of no more than 3 or 4 colors will work well for your purposes. These complementary colors, along with judicial use of white space, will make your website look professional and well thought out.

Remember Issues with Disabilities

One of the things often forgotten is that people with disabilities, including vision issues, also use the web. You’ll need to know who your audience is to know if this plays a factor, but having an accessible website should be as important to you as having an accessible store front. Your website is your store front in many cases, you don’t want to exclude people due to lack of attention to this detail. You can learn more about web standards for people with disabilities by reading the about it here at the w3schools.com website.

Your Audience Comes First

Like with most things marketing, it’s all about them. Your website isn’t about you at all. It’s about how you can best represent your products and or services to your customer in a way that pleases them. Men, women, elderly, and even different nations and cultures view color differently. Women don’t necessarily like pink, for example, so be sure to study your audience so that you can get an idea of their preferences.

Understand the Emotional Meaning

behind Color

For many individuals, a particular color will bring to mind emotional connotations that cannot be controlled. For instance red, in most cases can bring to mind feelings of high energy or anger depending on the audience. It’s important to pay attention to how your audience reacts to color and how the color of your website might bring to mind certain emotions. The shade of the color can matter a lot too, so choose wisely.

  • Red – High energy, passion, anger
  • Blue – Trust, sadness, loyalty
  • Green – Nature, wealth, health
  • Yellow – Joy, happiness

Once you start mixing these colors to create other colors, you’ll get entirely new and different emotions.

Online Tools You Can Use

You can create exciting palettes by using an online palette with this Color Scheme Designer. Once you pick the colors with the software, you can see a preview of what your website might look like. You can also download the RGB colors to use, in order to get the most accurate colors possible for your website.

Another really great tool to try is the Color Palette Generator. You can copy the URL of any image to get a color palette generated from the image. This is very useful if you already have a logo, and other marketing collateral and you want to match it to the business image you already have. While this system generates five colors per image remember to not use all five, try to stick to three and no more than 4 colors.

Choosing the colors for your websites is just one of many decisions you’ll need to make for your business. But it’s an important decision to make, so give it some thought while considering the meaning behind the colors, as well as how the colors affect your customer’s choices and vision. You only have a few seconds to get any new visitor to stay and read.

Appearing To Do The Right Thing is The Wrong Thing in Branding

confusedHow many companies can you think of that tout customer service, great pricing, guarantees and transparency? They supposedly embrace social media and pretend to get the benefit of the web. They absolutely want their customers to know they love them. They expend a great deal of time and money trying to convince the great unwashed that they are the genuine article. They appear to be doing all the right things. The tricky word here is “appear.”

They appear to be doing all the right things.

Like any brand, it’s not enough to “appear” to be doing anything. To do so would be a HUGE injustice to your stakeholders. I can’t tell you the number of companies who tell me they’re on Linkedin but haven’t the faintest idea what to do there. They’re there because, “everybody told them they’ve got to be there.” They tout customer service because that’s what everyone wants right? Sure – but ask them what they do to facilitate great customer service and the real truth is, it’s written on the website and brochure but there are no systems in place to deliver.
Saying it seems to be enough. Ask anyone what differentiates them and most will say, “our customer service.” I’ve experienced this first hand. Being a branding guy, you can appreciate this is one of the first things I want to know about when first exposed to a new company in a networking situation or some other venue.

My favourite was one guy who had a guarantee on his marketing. His tout was, “Great service – guaranteed!” Wow! Two promises in one line. I asked him what was the guarantee if he failed to deliver great service. He said in all seriousness, “They can go somewhere else.” Now that’s shallow. That’s what you get if he fails!? Maybe he should reword his position and tell the truth – Satisfaction guaranteed or you can go somewhere else.” Are you sold? This guy wasn’t trying to be a smart ass. He genuinely believed that his guarantee was justified.

It “appeared” to do the right thing. No risk, no expectation to sacrifice should he fail at his promise to deliver. Thank heavens for the brand. Since it’s your reputation, the brand indirectly protects the public from less than ethical businesses. It’s no wonder most purchases are made on the recommendation of friends and colleagues. It’s one of the reasons why social media is so effective at defending and advocating great brands. Screw up and suffer the wrath of social media. “Appearing” be embracing social media shows a major weakness with this scenario.

If you want your brand to flourish and stand for more than what you do, it’s time to stop appearing to do something and start participating in it. Have a brand strategy that uses all channels to push your brand. This is taking control of your brand. Seems like an obvious statement doesn’t it? It’s a simple statement that’s for sure, but it comes with a large commitment. To control your brand you must put out a ton of effort. Sometimes it’s going to feel thankless. It will absolutely define your brand. There is an alternative however – and that’s to “appear” to be doing something. Nobody but your competition will thank you for that move.

Your competition LOVES to define what your brand stands for. They’ll thank you and all they ask in return is a little market share.

It appears to be you move.

Your Brand Is More Than The Obvious

A brand is a far reaching thing. It involves more than just the obvious. A good many businesses have brands that are less than they ought to be. They’re not the kind of company to take bold moves and create a unique experience. I am quite frustrated when I see companies play loose with their visual brands. Take the accompanying photograph. When this business took over the building and removed the old lettering, they took the cheap way out and failed to bother re-surfacing the facade. What you have is what looks like the building was sprayed with bullets. Ironic that it’s a legal office.

photoThe proper move would have been to resurface then apply the new signage. MUCH more professional. This is just sloppy and lazy. Is their legal advice any better? Who knows, but their street level visuals is saying exactly that. The few bucks they saved may have cost them business. Something so basic can and does damage brands. If you were to ask them if they run a tight ship, no doubt they’d think they are first class operation.

Is there an aspect of your business that could show better than it does today? It might not be a visual thing but an experience perhaps. If you have service as one of your brand values but it is common practice to leave a customer on hold or put them through voice mail hell, that speak as negatively of your brand as the unsurfaced facade. Uninspired sales teams – same thing.

I constantly try and add value to my brand service. It’s a practice what you preach philosophy.
Imagine the message I’d be sending if I let mediocrity rule my brand. What you even consider retaining my services? All of us must walk the walk. Too much effort goes into doing what we do to make a living to risk it’s value as a brand.

Capitalize on 4th of July Merriment with These Five Marketing Incentives

Capitalize on 4th of July

Marketing is nothing without opportunity. Every business — even the largest and most recognizable brands — are marketing at every chance they get, and holidays are one of the best ways to capitalize on a great opportunity. Everyone from big-box retailers like Best Buy to your local car dealership is known for having great sales on weekends surrounding Columbus Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day and the like. So, for the upcoming July 4th holiday, use it to your business’ best advantage. Learn how you can capitalize on 4th of July merriment with these simple marketing incentives.

Many people associate July 4th with fireworks and barbecues, but there’s more to it than that. This year especially, July 4th can be a great marketing opportunity because it’s attached to a weekend; once the fireworks have ended, it’s a great long weekend where people likely have the opportunity to “catch up” on things they’ve been meaning to do. Here are a few reasons why it can be beneficial to use a splashy incentive for the July 4th holiday:

Utilize the season

July 4th is the “official” beginning of summer. By creating a limited-time offer to encourage a customer to buy now, you can capitalize on 4th of July merriment and that early-summer momentum. Especially if the product or service that you’re offering is something that can be tied to the summer months, let your customers know that the offer won’t last forever so they need your product now in order to get the most use out of it during the summer that they can. If you miss that “window” of opportunity, the summer goes by too fast — by August 1st, retailers are advertising back-to-school sales and you can no longer use the summer as your incentive.

Social Media

Email and social media can be your best advertising technique when it comes to holidays, especially 4th of July. If your brand already has a solid social media following, use it to your advantage. It seems counter intuitive to assume that people will be trolling Facebook and Instagram when the days are long and outdoor activities are plentiful, but the “me-centric” culture that abounds on social media these days is your best asset. Everyone wants to show their friends just how much fun they’re having… whether they’re posting photos of their legs tanning on the beach, or “checking in” at some fun destination, they are broadcasting to the whole world what they’re doing this summer — the flip side is that they also want to see where their friends are and what they’re doing. That includes YOU! If you’re having a July 4th sale or special event, share it on social media as far as you can reach. Include some beachy-looking photos to catch the user’s eye (even if perhaps they’re unrelated to what they’re selling). Chances are high that lots of people won’t be spending a holiday weekend watching TV or reading the paper, but they will be checking their social media accounts. It’s a great time to increase your brand’s social following, capitalize on 4th of July merriment, and activities by joining the party online.

Be Memorable

Have your brand do something unique. Having a July4th sale? Go the extra mile to bring customers into your store. The best thing you can do for your brand is to build customer loyalty that will last year-round. Throw a party — especially if your business is in the center of a town or walkable area, find out whether you can put on some music and perhaps set up a grill. If every customer who walks through the door is greeted with a free hot dog and soda, it will make the experience memorable and that customer is more likely to come back to you, rather than the big-box retailer, the next time around.

Be Patriotic

Capitalize on 4th of July merriment by being patriotic and showing some red, white, and blue. Americans love holidays where they can show their American pride. July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day are unique in that they are great times to really let a business show its all-American roots, and when people are most likely to be feeling that patriotic pull. Even if all that means is adding some red, white and blue to your storefront’s décor. Whether it’s a sign, a flag, or even some balloons, it’s an easy way to put people in that patriotic, warm-hearted mindset. This is especially helpful when you have customers who really do prefer to support small businesses, but who will shop online or at the big-box retailers simply for convenience. When you do something, however small, to remind them that your brand is all-American, local and patriotic, it might make them go the extra mile to seek out your products or services in the future.

Relationship

Maintain the relationship. Depending on the nature of your business, maintaining the relationship with an existing customer by creating a method of post-sale follow-up could be a practice that you employ all year. If your business is small, but caters to higher-end products, following up after a July 4th (or any) sale is the perfect opportunity to build customer loyalty. As customers enter your store, encourage them to sign a guest book that includes their name, email address and phone number. Whether or not you close a sale at that time, a phone call the following week might be just the personal touch that the customer craves. If a sale was made, inquire as to how the customer is enjoying the product and if there’s anything further that s/he needs. If you didn’t close a sale, let the customer know that you’re happy to answer questions about any of your products and that you always have new inventory becoming available.

Especially for the small business, what will keep you in business is building customer loyalty. In this society, where retail is ubiquitous and you can get almost anything you need online, your customers can find what they want with a click of a mouse. What will keep them coming to you, whether your business is online or brick and mortar, is the customer service experience and that little “something special” that draws them in.

July 4th is a great opportunity to capitalize on not just patriotism, but the whole feeling of summer. Set your business apart from the rest by using this holiday (and others) as an opportunity to do some “out-of-the-box” marketing.

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