Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Extreme Web Makeover IV: Music & Memory

Monday, November 26th, 2012

If you have any experience with a loved one who struggles with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, you know the great challenges and sense of loss for all involved. But what if there were a medication-free way to help your loved one reawaken to the world?

It turns out there’s a simple and elegant solution: personalized music playlists. Hearing personal favorites on a device like an iPod can tap deep emotional memories and enable many of those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s and other cognitive challenges reconnect socially and feel more energized and upbeat.

I’ve learned all about this amazing process from Music & Memory, a non-profit based in metro New York that trains nursing home professionals how to set up and manage a comprehensive personalized music program for those in their care. For the past three months, I’ve been helping their great team revamp their website and create a professional, easy-to-navigate user interface designed to boost donations and subscriptions to their webinar training series. The new site went live on November 19.

Capitalizing on a Viral Video

Music & Memory’s challenge was an enviable dilemma: Last April, a video clip from a documentary about their work went viral. The clip told the story of Henry, a 94-year-old with dementia, who is non-communicative and doesn’t recognize his daughter. But as soon as he listens to his Cab Calloway favorites on his iPod, he awakens to his surroundings and can express himself quite effectively.

Nearly 7 million people have viewed the video, which has aroused tremendous interest in Music & Memory’s great work. The non-profit has sought and enjoyed extensive media coverage from major news outlets, including the New York Times, NPR and CNN, among others.

Converting from an Organically Grown Website to Strategic Web Content and User-Friendly Design

But Music & Memory’s website was a jumble of information and calls-to-action that did not effectively represent or explain the quality of their program. The site had grown organically, using a free template. Content was written from the organization’s point of view, rather than the user’s. Benefits were not clearly articulated. Navigation was cluttered and confusing. In addition, Music & Memory was in the process of switching over to Salesforce, a sophisticated contact management system that required a better web platform.

Working with the Music & Memory team and web developer Ed Booth of Insight Dezign, I took these steps to upgrade the site:

  • Defined key target audiences and established a hierarchy of calls-to-action, with donations and enrollments in M&M’s webinar training series at the top of the list.
  • Researched keywords that would boost search; salted these keywords throughout the site, in text, title tags, tabs, headlines and subheads, urls, ALT tags, search result descriptions and keyword tags.
  • Revised and wrote new content for the entire site, creating a conversational, unified tone throughout.
  • Reorganized content into a logical site navigation.
  • Selected the StudioPress Streamline theme template as the starting point for the new design; this template includes options for a hierarchy of multiple calls-to-action, essential for the site.
  • Selected images from Music & Memory’s documentary stills for the featured image within each main section of the site.
  • Laid out all page content within the template, unifying styles.
  • Integrated testimonial quotes throughout the site, including a rotating sidebar widget, a main Testimonials page and forms.
  • Using the Premise plug-in, wrote and designed a vertical sales page for the webinar series to expand the inquiry pool for this important revenue stream.
  • Wrote three Resource Guides—how to run an iPod donation drive, a guide for elder care professionals who wish to bring Music & Memory to their facility, and a guide to creating a personalized playlist for a loved one at home—that serve as free lead-generation downloads.
  • Served as project manager of the site build, in coordination with Ed Booth and Music & Memory staff. Oversaw completion of all details for the site visitor interface.

Ed built the site and added in many modifications to the template, enabling Music & Memory to fully realize their vision. Working closely with M&M tech pro Melody Ward, he integrated all forms with Salesforce. As always, he worked his magic on every technical challenge and request for greater functionality that we threw at him. He also patiently fixed whatever broke or jammed, all the inevitable problems that arise in a complex site build and launch.

Promoting the New and Improved Website

Whenever a site goes live, it’s always a thrill to see it in action. We coordinated the site launch with a year-end appeal letter that is scheduled to arrive in people’s homes today, November 26. Next steps for Music & Memory include an emailed site launch announcement tied to the annual appeal and a targeted email campaign to drive elder care professionals to the webinar training landing page. We’ll be following Google Analytics results to see how the site performs and making any needed modifications in the weeks and months to come.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity to help such a great organization strengthen their ability to attract more donors and reach many more people who can benefit from this affordable, uplifting form of personal care.

Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your great work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.

Should You Invest in a Logo for Your Small Business?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

If you’re updating your website or creating a new one, you’ve probably wondered whether you should invest in a professionally designed logo. When you’re a small business professional, you’re watching every dollar and may not have the means, or may think you don’t have the means, to invest in branding.

 

And, what’s the point, anyway? You’re not Nike or Starbucks.

Consider this: You don’t have to see the name of either of those brands to connect the swash with great athletic shoes or the sea maiden with great coffee.

A Professionally Designed Logo is a Competitive Advantage
Your logo is a mnemonic device that helps potential customers think of your business and pick you out from the crowd. It’s also a visual expression of who you are and what distinguishes your product or service. The Nike swash, like a jazzy checkmark, embodies speed and choice. The Starbucks siren, with her open arms and smile, conveys a sense of welcome and intrigue, as well as Starbuck’s Seattle maritime roots.

Capturing your brand’s essence in a memorable visual is a complex design challenge. That’s why big businesses pay big bucks for their logos. You undoubtedly can’t afford a million dollar design team, but you should think carefully about a logo and visual branding and consider investing in quality, to the best of your ability. With logos, you get what you pay for.

Here are six factors to keep in mind as you evaluate logos for your business:

1) Clean and Simple
The less visual clutter, the better. Don’t mix a lot of colors and typefaces. Your logo may be paired with a tag line, but it should be able to stand on its own to convey your unique brand identity. Think of Apple’s logo—simple, sleek (like their products), inviting—as easy and pleasurable to use as biting an apple.

2) Memorable
Just because you’re a lawyer, don’t feel you need to include the scales of justice in your logo. Avoid visual clichés and strive for a design that is precise and unique, as well as conceptually easy to grasp. Pair it with a typeface that expresses your values and personal aesthetics.

3) Works in Black-and-White
You may utilize print marketing strategies that don’t use color, such as newspaper ads or business-card-sized ads in a program book. Be sure that your logo works in all print formats.

4) Scaleable
Your logo needs to look good as a small thumbprint as well as on an outdoor sign, if you have one. Understand how your logo will be used and be sure that it works in all visual formats, electronic and print.

5) Necessary
Sometimes, a good type treatment of your business name can be as effective as a logo. Not all businesses require a logo. If you go the type treatment route, as I have for Herwitz Associates, pick distinctive, quality typefaces that express the essence of your business. For me, the red cursive typeface in Herwitz Associates projects the elegance and personal touch that I bring to all my projects.

6) Professional
We respond to quality design, whether we recognize it or not. Chances are, if you have a well-designed logo and your competitor does not, a potential client choosing between you will lean toward your business. When you look like a professional, your engender trust. When you look like you just slapped some visual elements together, you raise questions about how serious you are in your work.

Once again, with logos and visual design for your website and other business collateral, you get what you pay for. Here are a few more resources about best practices in logo design, to help you make an informed decision:

The Fundamentals & Best Practices of Logo Design Mashable Tech

Vital Tips for Effective Logo Design Smashing Magazine

Creating or Updating Your Logo? Learn These Five Fundamentals Before You Start Sixty Second Marketer

Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your great work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.

Marketing 101: A Great Message Starts with a Great Product and Great Service

Monday, April 25th, 2011

I learned to sew when I was 13, and I’ve been sewing my own clothes, on and off, ever since. As any sewing enthusiast knows, there is nothing like discovering an excellent fabric store. With the Internet, a vast selection of fabric is just a mouse-click away. But no web gallery can compete with the delight of sifting through fabric bolts, fingering texture and drape, immersing in a rich array of colors.

So, it was with great pleasure that I recently discovered Sawyer Brook Fabric’s outlet store in Clinton, Mass., a scenic drive from my home. Sawyer Brook has a website and is primarily an online fabric retailer. But they also operate a small store—up a creaky staircase, at the end of a long, dark corridor lined with antique furniture, on the second floor of an old brick wire mill.

Kindred Spirits Behind the Counter
Not the most likely setting. But once inside, I met three women who are devoted to sewing and fabric arts, who know their inventory of mostly designer end-lots like their own wardrobes, who delight in helping you to find just the right fabric and notions for your project, and who can tell you that the exquisite button you’ve selected is made from coconut shell.

I left feeling ecstatic—excited to sew my new pants out of a beautiful oatmeal linen-cotton blend, happy to have met kindred spirits who were such a great help, pleased that I bought quality materials for a very good price, and ready to tell friends who sew that they must visit the Sawyer Brook store.

Best Marketing Practices
There is no better marketing message than word-of-mouth referrals from people you trust, who share your passion for a particular product or service. And there’s no better way to get those referrals than to thoroughly understand your market and to provide a quality product and outstanding service for the right price.

It doesn’t matter if you work in an upscale office complex or an old wire mill, in Midtown Manhattan or the middle of nowhere. In today’s wired world, what really counts is providing an excellent product and great, personal service to meet your target audience’s needs.

Of course, a good, search-optimized website and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter amplify and accelerate word-of-mouth marketing. Share what you offer and what you know to help your audience achieve their goals via honest, clear, attractive, accessible web content and a strategic media mix, and your customers will find you—even at the end of a long, dark corridor.