How do you create a consistent brand? Try Electric Hair!

What does having electric hair have to do with creating a consistent brand for your business?

Electric Hair was set up by Mark Woolley, whose aim is for the business to become known as the best hair dressing brand in the UK. With salons in London, Brighton and Reading, the Oxford salon was opened earlier this year. As with all the other salons, the building has been bought by the business, which means it can be done up in a similar way to the other salons. When you walk in, you recognise the slick, modern decor of the other salons.

The team at Oxford have been handpicked and is lead by Louise, who used to work at the Reading salon; she lives and breathes the essence of Electric. Under her guidance, her staff are welcoming – you get a drink on arrival and a consultation, to discuss what you need. Like Mark, Louise is keen to develop her staff and help them achieve their goals. Her goal was to run a salon and with Mark’s support, she’s now doing it. If any of her team wants the same, she’ll inspire them to get there.

Does it matter if your hair is washed the same way each time to go to the hairdresser? Maybe not to everyone, but it is nice to know what you’re going to get. With Electric you know that you’ll get a great haircut (that looks better for longer than your previous hairdresser managed!) You know that you won’t get silly ideas about hair styles that don’t suit you, or outrageous colours you don’t like. You know that you’ll be treated as an individual and given the time you need, with personal care and interest in you. You’ll get the same treatment if you walk into any of the salons.

Creating a consistent brand is not about putting your logo on everything. It’s much bigger than that. It’s about treating your customers the way they want to be treated and about always treating them the same way, so that they know what they will get from you, each time they have any contact with them.

What can you do to create a consistent brand and give your clients the best experience you can?

Web-attractiveness isn’t necessarily good design

Alice

Reading through the LinkedIn Groups a question grabbed my attention. It was a lady who was obsessed with setting up a series of fancy designed monetized blogs. As well as wavering on which kind of blogging platform to use, she was very concerned about the design, as well as keen to start making money.

Unfortunately the thing about monetized blogs is that they take some time before they start to yield decent results. They need to be attractive to readers in order to build up a suitable following that would respond to the advertising, and they need to be visited regularly before there will be enough readers tempted to click on.

And web-attractiveness doesn’t mean a fancy template, it means good, varied, consistent and practical content. Plenty of websites have spent a fortune on the design, only to be sorely lacking in the information they contain, especially if it is out of date. Large corporates waste money thinking that by redesigning their website it will enhance its performance, but most visitors don’t notice, only caring about the information they need and want. OK, cleverly designed buttons that encourage a mouse-click may be successful, but what about the stuff they lead on to?

What makes a website or blog successful is good content, coupled with excellent navigation that guides the visitor in the right direction. Visitors should enjoy their experience, be easily gratified by finding what they are looking for, benefit from the information gleaned and be suitably impressed to bookmark, subscribe and regularly return for more.

When a visitor lands on your website or blog, they immediately want to establish this is the right kind of website they are looking for, without stopping to admire the fancy graphics and beautiful colours. A good design enables readers to immediately find what they want, and doesn’t hinder or distract them from their purpose. The overall result should be readable, legible, uncluttered and easy to use.

And the content should also encourage a desire to return, react to the call to actions and succumb to the sign up forms. Although an excellently written book may be read many times, it can’t compare to a blog that is regularly updated with new content, satisfying both its human readers as well as the search engine robots, who play such a necessary part in promoting your content throughout the web.

Watch out for our new website

Chantal

We’re building a brand new website for Appletree, so I thought I’d let you know how we’re doing it and how we do it for clients.

The first thing we did was to ask ourselves lots of questions about how we want our new site to look. We looked other websites that we really like and worked out what we like about them. Our own blog is one site that we like, especially the line of bright apples at the top. While there’s a lot on the page, it’s all balanced, unlike our existing website which has lots of white space at the top and sections that don’t flow together. The apples and our logo don’t go together very well.

We also talked about the structure of our new website – what pages we’re going to include and all the elements we want to show on the home page. These include a sign up form for Scribbles, our email newsletter and sections were we can promote our new products and services. This new site is going to be very dynamic with lots going on and lots of news and fresh resources being added.

Alice took all the notes we made and worked her magic on the first draft of the design – here’s how it looked.

It’s great start – cleaner and more modern that our existing site. However, I’d like the colours of the new site to match the row of apples because they’re much brighter. No more pale green background, please Alice!

We also thought the new home page was a bit busy, so we’re taking the background boxes off the section titles in the columns and changing the text from white to bright green. Below is the next version. Much better!

What do you think of our proposed new website?

Why boring adverts don’t work

Alice

Advertising is having a difficult time at the moment, as there is a ‘rumour’ going about that it doesn’t work. Well, that is true if your advert is rubbish, and believe me, there are plenty of rubbish adverts out there!

Chantal gave me one to comment on yesterday, which was particularly bad. For starters it was jam-packed full of words in a tiny font. Why do companies have the urge to stuff practically everything in to the ads that they think is important? After all, that’s what websites are for, and your advert should direct interested parties to a well-written landing page that is relevant to that particular advert.

Adverts should concentrate on a specific area of your business that you think your customers need or want the most. Do some research to find out what the biggest problem your clients have, and then tailor one of your solutions so it is ‘ad-worthy’, and base your ad-copy around that. The idea is to relate to your customers’ pain by empathising with them, provide a solution to attract their attention, and incentivise them take action to go to your landing webpage and make contact to find out more.

If you’re worried about not promoting the rest of the things your company does, that doesn’t matter. Once you’ve got the customer across your threshhold, both virtually or physically, then you can practice your sales patter to direct their attention to what else you have to offer.

As well as the tiny boring text within this advert, there were these unpromising aspects:

  • a particularly uninspiring headline – why not pose a question or statement that is attractive to a potential customers based around their problem?
  • unrelenting large blocks of writing – alleviate this by breaking the text up with bullet points for more emphasis; it can also aid those that quickly scan adverts as it highlights the most important elements.
  • don’t conform with a picture of a smiling lady, that is so passé it almost has the opposite effect it is intended for; that concept went out with the last century – good layout is better than inappropriate imagery.
  • stuffing a tiny unnoticeable version of your logo at the bottom – the position good, but make it larger and combine it with an equally large URL of your landing page with the incentivised call to action; giving your customers something to do as well as read all your advert will ensure a much larger response rate.

Don’t use WordArt in your PowerPoint presentations

Chantal

Quite a few years ago, when people discovered PowerPoint and how useful it was for creating presentations, there was a trend for throwing as much into a presentation as possible. In went the bullet points that whizzed in from left and right. In went the images that spiralled round until they settled in the right place. And in went the WordArt – a way of emphasising a key word and phrases by giving them colour, stretching them sideways and making them 3D. Funky stuff!

But WordArt actually makes it harder to read the words you want to emphasise because it’s too easy to stretch and distort them. It’s too simple to put them into colours that don’t tie in with the rest of your presentation.

If it’s hard to read on a computer screen, just think how difficult it will be for someone seeing it on a projector screen from the back of the room.

When Microsoft launched Office 2007 they came up with some clever new features that mean we don’t have to rely on the old stuff anymore; and they sensibly relegated WordArt to a tiny button that’s quite hard to find.

So the next time you’re putting together a PowerPoint presentation, leave out the WordArt. If you need highlight key messages, just put them in big, bold letters on a slide all on their own. If you need colour and graphics, think about using your own logo and branding to bring your slides to life.

Much better, isn’t it?