Feeling Out Your Brand

Feeling Out Your Brand

I keep hearing about Branding, but what is it, and why do I need a Brand?

Branding is ultimately the way that your business effects the senses of the public. It is your message, your personality, the vision, your experience, your feel, your smell, your “sound”; The way the business “tastes” to your prospects and clients. It is the words, the emotions, the colors, the flow, the information, the layout, the vendors you work with, the clients you represent, and the life of your business. It is you, in business form – like your heartbeat & your dreams into a living being. It is what creates a memory and recall of your business, the connection and attachment that builds loyalty. It is how you’re recognized. Your branding is your “special sauce”.

Your products, your online presence, the way you answer the phone, how your office looks, how your sales department interacts, how you email clients, your packing and delivery, your mailers and promotions, the events you host, your URL, your writing style on your blog, your workflow, how many clients you take on, any special programs you run, even your pricing structure … it is all a part of your branding. Your branding builds the expectation of the experience with you.

Branding has to be authentic and realistic … so don’t over-promise and under deliver. Hold yourself to the standard of your brand – every decision you make for your business will effect it.  Whenever you make a decision for your business, ask yourself, “Does this help or hurt the brand?”

What if I really don’t have a brand (or I don’t think I do)?

There are a lot of things to think about when you’re branding your business. To keep yourself organized, I recommend starting with a branding board. From there, you can place things into the branding binders and put things into action. Use magazines, pinterest, everything you can and cut out or print out things you love. Put them on the board under different headings.

One of the first steps in defining a brand is recognizing the culture of your business. What are the core values of not only the business itself, but the staff? Are they aligned? If not this should be your first thing to address. From culture grows a strong brand. Your culture is ultimately the heart of your branding message.

Once you’ve defined your culture, your core values, and your mission, you can now dig in to the way your brand looks to the world.

What are the main parts of a brand to consider? 
  • Name
  • Colors
  • Graphics
  • Words (I do this through something called a word bank)
  • Visual
  • Design (simple or detailed)
  • Smells
  • Experience
  • Business Model
  • Fonts
  • Specific Target Market (age, spending style, where they shop, what they love, who they are)
  • Marketing avenues (twitter, fb, g+, linkedin, blog, website,  print, events, other offline avenues – how often, and what). Side Note:  a balanced marketing mix that includes both offline and online approaches is key to success. Embrace both and make them talk to eachother. 
  • Vendors or Partners that represent your brand well

So now what? What do I do with all that?
Start creating your brand collateral:

  •  Logo
  • Tag Line (not a necessity anymore, but if you need inspiration pull from your mission statement)
  • Social Media URLs (should be the same, like ours, printingbig) and designs
  • Website Url and design
  •  Blog Url and design
  •  Offline Promotional Pieces: banners, signage, handouts, business cards, etc.
  • Pricing and Sales Process
  • Events and Special Promotions
  • Office Space (including use of Wall, Floor, Ceiling graphics and murals)
  •  Product Line
  •  Email Marketing & General Communications
  •  Checks and Credit Cards
  •  Policies (staff and client – make sure they’re brand right)
  •  Customer Retention Program
  •  Workflow process created
  • Packaging and enclosures/gifts

Remember to keep your visual design elements cohesive. I should be able to visit any of your online presences and hold up a printed offline piece and know that I’m at the right place.  The same goes for language. If I’m on your blog, reading your printed pieces, and talking to you (or your staff) in person, the language should be consistent.

Branding is a journey, and journeys take time. Don’t expect this to come to you overnight, in a week, or even in a month. This is your permanent, forever face to the world and your industry. Invest in it – with time, money, and creativity. Make sure you can live this, and that your staff can too.

Ready to get started? We’d love to help you create the print and offline marketing pieces for your brand! Just give us a call 800-511-185

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How’s Your Merchandising?

There is something about walking past a storefront that is beautiful that just hits us and makes go “WOW”.  Even if you don’t like to shop, you can’t stop but to admire it. As long as it’s not overpowering you with a million bottles of over-sprayed teen cologne (*cough cough*) or jammed with too many racks of disorganized clothes once you get inside, that visual merchandising can make you stop for a moment and really fall in love.
Retail Display 1

What makes the merchandising of a retail store so effective? 

Think about the sensory effect when you walk past the store in the mall. This is a 15 second marketing message in which a company introduces a prospect to the brand, its message and it’s product and knows that they are about to make a choice. They invest in this 15 second impression more than almost any other part of their process because this impacts every other experience that client will then have with their brand. Merchandising is key because they have taken the time to invest in their brand and the presentation of it to their clients – not just the ones that they are trying to get, but the ones that they already have as well.

They impale your senses from every direction and take no chances on that “call to action”. They want to make sure that there was nothing they could have done better or said in a different way that could have changed your decision, if you are their target market, right? When you walk past that store, it shines with their message. You can see plainly what their brand is, what the current trend or sale is. You see, smell, touch, hear, and sometimes even taste it. They’ve researched this, they make sure they get it right.

Merchandising elicits emotion. It creates connection, reaction, and interaction with a brand. I know that with the recent changes in our beloved {hated} social media, it’s become harder and harder to do so – but I challenge you that maybe it’s just that we need to get more involved in our merchandising strategies. Did you know that most (read: pretty much ALL) retailers have look books in which they outline their specific merchandising all the way down so that it is unified all the way across the board for every campaign they run?

I’m here to tell you, you can do this, but merchandising over social media needs to be strategic and cannot be accomplished with a one and done mentality. It is complex, planned, and integral to an actual marketing tactic. You need to put a strong marketing message in place, and then create ways to deliver the message to appeal to the range of senses over the course of a week at a time. Focus on a sensory appeal for the day, and make sure to hit it with strength. And then back it up with a powerful offline message on print to truly get that emotional touchpoint.

Let’s Analyze! How are your displays? When you’re building your posts on social media or in print, are you considering the senses? The 5 seconds (if that – your time is shorter on social. This is why having an offline print element is so important) that you have of their attention to give them an introduction to your brand and message? How will you hit them hard and make them WANT to know more, to do more, to share more about you? This is about the click, the like, the share, the post. We need to generate movement. This is something you need to take the time and invest in. Your clients want to be invested in – they want to be important enough to you to be invested in.

First, create your action plan. Think about the stores your target market shops at. Research online and look at their visual merchandising, their window displays. Do Google image searches, look at their websites. Read the words they use, look at their social media campaigns, see what their Facebook pages look like, how they tweet, what print marketing they’re using. How do they interact with their clients? Take notes. Write down things that appeal to you. Can you make this work for your brand? Do you know how to do this for your business? What are they doing that is so different from you? Better yet – go shopping! Go to the mall and check it out (the store fronts, not the merchandise!) Don’t forget that those storefronts are PRINT. These brands know they need a complete strategy.

Retail Display 2

Now, how to translate it. This is something you’ll want to plan out as a campaign for things like Facebook and Twitter. With the Blog and Website it can take on more of an actual floor-set mode. I’ll explain that in a minute. Let’s get to starting your “look books”.

Facebook and Twitter Campaigning/Merchandising Style: 

  • With Facebook and Twitter you’ll want to identify a message to communicate for an entire week, but spread it out incrementally over the full week. Make a daily plan. Write out your message for that day and what elements you’ll use to share it (photos, video, blog, etc). Choose the time of day, and then share it throughout the day.
  • You’re giving out pieces, sneak peeks, parts of the design throughout the whole week so that the audience needs to interact the full week to get the full experience. Build excitement, let them know there is more.
  • The point of a campaign is to get reach across the brand. It could stretch into photos, videos, your blog, a tab, questions, your website, an event, a download – as long as it’s something in it for them in the end and not just a win for you. 
  • Ask people to share your posts/photos, etc with their friends. You don’t get what you don’t ask for.
  • Another key is do not cross post from FB to Twitter. Yes, its easier, but people on Twitter want different information. Give them different tidbits. Shorter info, different links. Take them to different photos, different tabs, different exclusive content. Make them feel a different kind of special. Ask them to RT (retweet it), and use hashtags (#) – even better if they’re branded.
  • Use a different medium each day. Don’t just hit a single sensory contact each day, try for a mix – and don’t miss a day. Try vision/hearing, etc.

Website, Blog and Print /Floorset Mode:
First, I’ll explain what a floor-set is. A floor-set is kind of like a map that retail managers are given when they need to lay out the design of a store’s merchandising displays to maximize the sales and the displays of merchandise. It helps plan where the merchandise should go based on sales projections, planning, goals, basic merchandising structures, store layouts, marketing plans, and business structure. It’s built around the brand and helps guide the business to make the right decisions about how to plan the layout of their marketing and sales decisions from the design on up to really maximize their profit for the upcoming season. Obviously, this is used in stores with actual space, but for right now, your space is your website, your blog, and your print pieces – and you need to make sure you maximize it wisely!

This is a lot about basic branding, but it’s also about content and making sure that your merchandising is well thought out and all of the elements are in line with the impression of your brand and your experience. When you look back on the research you did or even through the images on this post, what was the impression you had of these brands? Would you shop there? What would people think of your business if they saw your website or your blog? What would they think if they read your blog posts? Is there a lot of fluff and junk that isn’t selling you? Are you hiding your message or not showing the best of the best? Are you creating true connection through content and inspiring engagement?

You’ve only got a few moments of your clients time when they first enter your site to hit them with your Visual Merchandising to make that impact decision of “do I stay, or do I go?” This is why you do not want to skimp on this.  Focus on your visual merchandising of your blog and website just as much as you do your Facebook and other social media.

Are your blog posts engaging, well written, and not overwhelming? Do they show only the best few images? Are you being selective and speaking to both your current clients and prospects or are you posting just to post? This is your voice to your clients (past, present and future), how does it sound?

And just like the outside, the inside (offline) interactions are dripping with merchandising as well. Your print pieces have the opportunity to create a reward for the touch senses of your target market. Even the most simple sign or banner can create a trust-worthy level of tangibility that you can’t get with online marketing efforts. Visual Merchandising is incomplete without it – that’s why retailers have beautiful, impactful and large print pieces at the center of their merchandising displays.

Emulate the best. Enhance your merchandising with print. Create a piece that allows buy in with the opening – that makes it a journey to get involved in. Give a reward to their senses using print.

How does your Merchandising stack up? If you need to revisit it, do it now! It’s all about the first impression.

We can help! Call us today: 800-511-1859

This is a reblog from an original post by KG on StudioTrainer.

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You’re Invited | 12th Man Banner

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Friday, December 27 we will unveil our new 12th man banner on our building. This 8′ x 10′ banner was printed on the Seiko roll-to-roll, and can withstand the weather. The banner features the names of many of the Seahawks 2013 players roster and coaching team.

If you’re local to Redmond, you’re invited to stop by anytime this afternoon or weekend to check it out! Our shop address is 9449 151st Ave NE, Redmond, WA.

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UV Printed Image Wooden Boxes

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In our line of work, we get to meet with – and create for – incredible artists. Their visions are so unique, that we are instantly drawn to a project. This was one of those times.

These boxes were imaged using a UV Flatbed directly onto the wood surfaces. With our flatbed technology, we’re able to open the world of  print up to an imaginative use of medias – and wood is one of our favorites!

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Do you have a vision or idea, and just can’t quite seem to imagine how to bring it to life with print? Give Bob Jr a call at 800-511-1859 and let’s create magic, together!

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A Wish From Us

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

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Signage: Why, and How? | Signs, Banners, and Graphics in the Pacific Northwest

A Business Without A Sign

Sign : Any medium, including its structural and component parts, which is used or intended to be used to attract attention to the subject matter for advertising, identification or informative purposes.

Why Signage?

As you’re setting up shop, you become increasingly aware of all of the tiny expenses it takes to run a business. Especially when it comes to your branding.

Branding is more than just the logo and colors you choose, branding is ultimately the way that your business effects the senses of the public. It is your message, your personality, the vision, your experience, your feel, your smell, your “sound”, the way the business “tastes” to your prospects and clients. It is the words, the emotions, the colors, the flow, the information, the layout, the vendors you work with, the clients you represent, and the life of your business. It is you, in business form – like your heartbeat, your dreams into a living being. It is what creates their memory and recall of your business, the connection and attachment that builds loyalty. It is how you’re recognized. Your branding is your “special sauce”.

And branding is your signage. Your signage, whether it’s in your windows, on your shop, on the road, or in the community, is your first face to your potential clients.  Beyond the obvious statement of “This is where my business is located”, your signage can be that 2 second impression that can make or break the sale. Is it compelling enough to get them through the door?

If you’re debating signage for your business, remember the saying above – “A Business Without a Sign is a Sign of No Business.” This can be a large part of your marketing plan.

Signage can be your first form of merchandising, and one of the most important. It’s always working for you, a constant visual reminder of your business’ presence.

Simple Signage

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What makes a great Sign?

1. Remember to Keep It Simple. 
Be concise. The best signs communicates its message in the shortest amount of words.

2.  Color Consideration. 
If you have a specific target client, or product that your sign is advertising, the colors you use can play a big part in it’s effectiveness.
We also often forget that some color combinations can be hard to read. General rule of thumb, stick to contrasting colors.

3. Keep it Positive, and On Brand. 
You want people to think the best of your business, so put the best out there. Use words you want associated with your business.

4. Design Elements
Choosing the right fonts, graphic elements, and even material for your signs can improve it’s effectiveness. Signs that can easily be read from the road, or are visible at night are successful; Signage that can continuously look new and to be able to withstand changing weather conditions with minimal maintenance is important, too.

Hanging Banners

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Maintaining Your Signage

A-Boards/Most Outdoor Signage
Cleaning your signage will largely depend on the media you’ve chosen. Most can be wiped down with water and a mild liquid detergent, then dry thoroughly.

Many sign codes already require that A-Boards be brought in during off hours or in snow emergencies; This also helps maintain the life of your board. Store in a dry place away from heat sources, bright lighting and areas of high humidity.

Banners
Again, this will depend on the media chosen, and how it was finish-treated. Banners can be cleaned using water, or a water-diluted liquid detergent. Make sure to completely dry your banner before storing. Roll your banner image side out, and store in a tube. As with most printed products, store away from heat sources and bright lighting, and areas of high-humidity (or with risk of leaks). Whatever you do, just don’t fold your banner. Those creases may never come out!

While displaying your banner, clean it regularly using a soft cloth to help maintain the color, vibrancy and luster of it’s design.

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What Kinds of Signs are there?

A-Boards (sandwich boards), banners, wall graphics, wall murals, barricade graphics, billboards, campaign and yard signs, floor graphics, point-of-sale graphics (just to name a few!) are forms of signage you can utilize to market your business.

Barricade sign

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Important Information about Signage

Most cities have sign ordinances or codes, and permitting procedures. Before designing and ordering your signage, make sure you research what applies in your area. We’ve put together a few local resources for sign code:

Redmond, WA

Bellevue, WA

Kirkland, WA

Woodinville, WA

Everett, WA

Seattle, WA

Washington State Sign Control

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Ready to Order your Signage?

We can help you with design, choosing colors & materials, even finding the right words to convey your message. Whether you’re looking for something simple, or something completely out of the box, give us a call. We’d love to work with you on your next project. 800-511-1859, or email us now.

ImageVisit us on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Tumblr, Instagram, or LinkedIN.

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Our Biggest Thanks…

Our biggest thanks goes to our Clients. Whether you’re new to us, or a longtime loyal fan, we are so grateful for your continued support, belief in us, your amazing ideas, and for being our champions every day.

We are lucky to be able to work with some of the smartest, most innovative, creative businesses in the area. You’ve blessed us with your friendship, and we look forward to a lifetime of fun alongside you.

Thank you for making our everyday something worth looking forward to.

We hope that you all had a Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours!

— The Washington Graphics Team!

Happy Thanksgiving from Washington Graphics!

Happy Thanksgiving from Washington Graphics!

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New Team Member | Kate Gansneder

VP of Marketing and Culture

VP of Marketing and Culture

Washington Graphics is excited to announce that Kate Gansneder is now our Vice President of Marketing & Culture.

Over the last week or so, you may have noticed an increase in our posts and presence online – with much more planned in the future.

Kate’s background of over 15 years in business management, marketing, and photography will bring a unique perspective to us as a whole. She’s committed to bringing our brand to life both inside the shop, and in our marketing.

 

We’re definitely ready to look ahead to incredible things in 2014 with the team we have!

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New Team Member | David Jimenez

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We’re proud to announce that David Jimenez has joined the Washington Graphics team as the Vice President of Operations.

If you’ve been to our shop lately, David is the driving force behind the new and improved floor – and he’s just getting started. We’re well on our way from Operational Greatness to Operational Excellence!

David brings us over 20 years of experience in the printing industry, and is committed to helping us provide the amazing product and service that Washington Graphics clients have come to love.

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5th Avenue Theatre’s Oliver | Pacific Place Installation

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