10 steps to rebrand your successful business

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In today’s dynamic global market space, competing on price and quality will never be a game changer. Businesses today are looking to create a brand that speaks their story, that packages their USP and expounds to  the world why they are so good. They need a visual depiction of their offering that emotionally connects their business to the consumers, sets them apart from the competition clearly and helps them stand head to head with large multi national firms that are coming into the economy at an alarming pace.

These simple 10 steps are important to know when you embark on the journey of rebranding your successful business.

1.Know your USP and differentiate clearly

The first step in a branding process is to know your strengths and understand what sets you apart. To look inside and see what attributes have lent themselves to your success. Basis this a clear DNA for your company will evolve and this is what has to be communicated in your brand and visual language to your prospective consumers.

2.Involve the full team

Rebranding is also an immense opportunity to install change management within the organisation. Communicating to your team that the company has ambitious goals and expect the team to also be involved in the facelift. The process is a catalyst to gear the entire team for the next innings of the organisation. It helps to involve the team in the initial briefing, brainstorming and presentations and be part of the rejuvenation of the organisation.

3.Speak to customers

During the rebranding, it always helps to speak to your consumers and key clients and see what they think of you. To ask them what keywords come to mind when they describe you, why they do business with you and what they feel is the DNA of your organisation.

4.Branding is not just about a logo

Most companies make the mistake of thinking that a brand is a logo. Its not. A brand is your voice and soul and its the emotional connect with your key stakeholders. A brand is a sum total of all the interactions with your business. Besides the visual aspects, your customer service, tone of voice, product or service and even small elements all add up to reinforce your brand values.

5.Think 10 years ahead

While doing a rebranding, its paramount to project the company 10 years ahead and think of expansion plans, diversification, acquisitions, geographies and even your exit strategy so the new brand stays relevant. If a firm currently manufactures food packaging and creates a brand that reflects that and later diversifies into logistics for example, the new brand will again be irrelevant.

 

6.Work with professionals

Many companies make the mistake of working with a freelancer, a relative or even the printer to save costs. They usually turn out as a disaster and the exercise is never strategic in nature but purely a visual depiction. An experienced branding expert will bring years of experience and will play a large role as a strategist and spend time understanding your vision, competition, benchmarks, limitations and marketing plan before they go to the drawing board.

7.Celebrate and announce your new avatar

When the rebranding is done and ready for a roll out, its a great marketing opportunity to connect with old customers, prospects and other stakeholders. Inform them proudly with your new look and share your new vision for the future. It builds new found confidence and respect and translates into business in the near future.

8.Follow the guidelines

After the branding is done and the initial roll out is achieved, many companies make the mess of tinkering and changing the look. Leaving it open for interpretations and short cuts will diffuse the impact of the brand. Make sure the DNA is respected and visual guidelines are adhered to.

9.Remember it’s an investment

The brand value is the largest asset in the balance sheer for almost all the the largest companies in the world today. A well brand that redefines your image will over the years convert into closed orders, goodwill,  set you apart form your competitors and help rapidly grow the organisation. Don’t see it as an expense but an investment for the future of the business.

10.Be ambitious 

A rebranding process is a great opportunity to think big and envision the future with lofty goals and aspirations. Its a time for the organisation to think big and see that the business will be able to compete and outrun large multinationals and competitors. Ensure your brand embraces this ambition and represents the image accordingly.

Sajith is the founder and CEO of Idea Spice, a branding firm that has helped create over 1200 brands around the world.

10 Innovative marketing  techniques for todays business landscape

This article appeared in Arabian Business-Start Up Magazine in Dubai May issue. Here is the article in text form.

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The current business landscape calls for a rethink of your marketing strategy. As CFOs tighten budgets and question marketing spends, CMOs have to still meet targets and ensure the organisation is continuing to grow. Marketeers are faced with the quandary of continuing efforts in increasing the visibility of their brand and staying top of mind with their consumers while working with reduced marketing budgets. Reduce your marketing efforts and you face the threat of losing market share or helplessly watch a new entrant capture mind share of your consumers immediately.

Given this scenario, marketing today requires a blend of innovation and imagination. The key is to take on the challenge and find new ways to create demand and interest in your product or service. Here are 10 innovative methods that can help businesses market their business, connect with prospects without increasing marketing spend.

1.Word of mouth

“Do what you do so well, that people cant resist telling others about you”

-Walt Disney

Word of mouth is one of most powerful mediums of marketing because it comes from happy customers. Creating evangelists for your business needs to be engineered right across every department of the company. If the goal of the organisation is to deliver a customer experience thats so spectacular that it surpasses the client expectation by a mile. A delighted customer will shout your name from rooftops. Mapping the customer experience step by step of the buying process and studying ways to wow them at every interaction ensures this. Do the unexpected and don’t just meet their expectations- shock and awe them with delight. Apple has customers who are evangelists converting everyone they know into the fold and will never ever move brands regardless of whatever option comes their way.

2.Increase conversion rate

“If content is king, then conversion is queen”

-Jon Munsell

Time needs to be invested to relook at the complete process of client acquisition. What steps can be put in place to double the current conversion? If you are at 25%, can your big hairy audacious goal be 50%? Its a good time to relook at your website, what you say, your SEO, first meeting, marketing presentations, quotes, pricing, negotiation strategy and even what rituals can help build trust. Mapping the clients decision process in detail and juxtaposing what you can do the influence the decision your way can help. Think out of the box, think funny, think values, think persuasion and go ahead and implement it immediately!

3.Social media

“Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards “

-Jay Baer

Social media today has democratised marketing and client engagement. It means that the person with the best ideas and client engagement wins and not the one with the biggest ad spend. Even the smallest companies can easily create compelling viral content that can interact and emotionally attract a consumer. Its not about the number of fans and paid followers, its about the engagement and building brand loyalty and eventually converting to a sale. Social media is the most cost effective way to reach out and seek to your consumers on a one to one basis. Once the brand DNA is established, the brand needs to be humanised to connect. Based on your demographic and target there is a right medium or a combination of social media platforms that reach out and build bridges with consumers. Social media is also a double edged sword where customers will shout from the rooftops if they are unhappy and a company needs to have a clear and authentic method to combat and resolve issues immediately.

4.Existing and Past Clients

“Customer service should not be a department, it should be the entire company”

-Tony Hsieh

Acquiring a new client is 7 times more expensive than retaining an existing client. It’s even more important today to ensure that your existing clients stay forever. Calculating the lifetime value of a client to the company and then focussing all efforts to retaining them. Every department should know the importance of an existing client and alarm bells should sound if you lose even one. Reconnecting with clients who have done business with you in the past is another way to focus on a target segment and win business with someone who already knows you. Make those phone calls, dust that rolodex and reconnect. Ensure you have a drip marketing system in place to inform your past clients or your current achievements and activities without reaching them spam or junk mail.

5.Get out of the office!

“The magic to a great meeting is all of the work thats done beforehand”

-Bill Rusell

The best way to increase conversion is to meet more clients. Increasing the number of clients you meet is directly proportional to the number of new client acquisitions. Plan meetings closer to each other so you can do more in a day. Create systems to reach out and meet prospects. All your marketing efforts should be engineered to connecting with your target clientele.

6.Public Relation

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on Public relation”

-Bill Gates

PR tells your story and instead of you professing your strengths, this allows other people to speak about you. Having a clear strategy on what strengths and stories you want your consumer to hear is the first step. Listing which mediums you want to be heard in and what stories can enhance your expertise is the next. Engaging with a specialist company ensures a clear strategy and a consistent effort which is long term. Many companies make the mistake of expecting immediate results. PR is brand building over a long term and will not result in an immediate sale.

7.New geographies

“If Opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”

-Milton Berle

When the going gets tough, looking at markets which still have demand and a growing consumer base is a great idea. This is a tougher and a more expensive prospect but it balances your risks. Investing in new and emerging markets bears fruit in the future. New markets which don’t have long flying hours, that don’t have much competition, have low set up costs and have potential demand for your product or service are good parameters for selection.

8.Networking

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing”

-Tom Fishburne

Connecting with potential customers and partners on an ongoing basis is critical to grow your influence as an entrepreneur. Join business networks, industry associations and conferences to grow your bandwidth of contacts.

9.Showcase industry expertise

“You must become an expert on a product, service or anything you write about to really be effective”

-Joseph Sugarman

Speak at conferences, write articles, blog, lecture and position yourself and your organisation as an expert in your field. Assume expertise in your subject and ensure you are one too. Educate yourself, keep track of trends and devour information on your subject field. Become and influencer and a voice for your industry and this will convert to business eventually.

10.Reposition the brand

“Its time to reset, rethink, reposition…”

-Hunter Hayes

A challenging business scenario is a good time to relook and rethink what your company is, what your weaknesses and strengths are, questioning if you really have a USP or an edge over your competition. This is the time to get better at what you do, improve and look within. This is a good time to rebrand, redo your image and express your differentiated strength clearly to your consumer and target clientele.

“Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs”

-Peter Drucker

The author Sajith Ansar, is the founder and CEO of Idea Spice, a branding firm that has helped 1000s of brands innovate and market themselves internationally.

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What a beautiful and inspiring quote by George Bernard Shaw 

  

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. 

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.

-George Bernard Shaw 

What a beautiful thought and a clear philosophy to live your life by. I chanced upon this in a Robin Sharma video and was mesmerized by the words and it’s call to action. 

Life is about burning brightly each day. Robin Sharma in his video asks in a similar vein, what would you do if it was the last year of your life? 
How can we make each day epic and burn so brightly and own each minute as a magical gift. To be completely in the moment and be a beacon of energy and positivity doing what we love with unending passion and fun. 

Great thoughts…

  

5 ideas to make a life changing vision board 

  

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. 

Jonathan Swift

A vision board is a tool that has time and again helped me create a road map and clarify my own picture of where I want to be in the future and become a catalyst to achieve the dreams. I have scoured articles and books to know more about the effectiveness of a vision board. I have changed and tinkered with my goals and pictures over and over and what I want with my vision has organically evolved each time I created a new board. 

When I look back at all the road maps I set out for myself it’s amazing how different each one is and how easily I have floated towards achieving them soon after I made them. My initial vision boards were skewed towards material aspects and studded with manifestation of only wealth. Eventually there’s been a journey towards balance, health, family, happiness, work excellence, laurels and charity. Balance of work life and everyday happiness became the primary goal of achievement eventually. 

I have made and remade many vision maps and boards and found some that worked and many more that didn’t. Here’s 5 secrets on making a vision board that’s transformational. 

1. Know what you want

  

It is so important to know what you want for yourself. Close your eyes, project to the future and ask yourself what you really want. Then ask yourself what do I want this for? What will this give me? Why  is that goal is part of your dream? 

Make a list of your asks and categorize them once they pass your questions. Ensure every aspect of your vision resonates deep down within. 
This is an opportunity to truly introspect your ideal life 5 and 10 years later and have a crystal clear idea of what it looks like. 
2.Transport yourself to the future and live the moment 

  

What I learnt over the years and through discussions and reading is that the more clear you are of your vision the higher the possibility of achieving it. It’s important to be able to close your eyes and see yourself in an already achieved state. 

Be able to see the surrounding, smell the ambience, feel the textures, hear the sounds and play the movie in your head of yourself being there. For example if you are visualizing your dream home, every detail should be accessible in your mind. The walls, the furniture, the sounds, smell and the moments. See your emotions when you have achieved your vision, interact with the dream and it will increase the confidence in arriving at the destination. 

Even writing your dreams from an already achieved state  and with specifics helps accentuate the clarity of the vision. For example instead of saying “I want to publish a book by 2018” write down “By June 31st 2018, I have published my book titled ‘start up failures’ and 100,000 copies have been sold in the first year”. 

3.Create detailed visual boards across sections

 
Make vision boards for each category of your life and populate them with pictures of your dream. I have a few sections which I have evolved over time. 

Health, family time, travel, office and work, awards and accolades, hobbies, friends, dream home, dream office, dream clients and team, money, investments, friends and mentors, spirituality, toys and gadgets (car, brands, clothes, electronics etc). 

Creating vision boards across these categories have helped getting clarity under each section and makes sure the vision is complete. Involving the family and getting their buy in also helps cement these visions and enlist them as catalysts. 

It helps further to get yourself in as many pictures of the vision board. For example, if it’s a dream home or a car, go to the house and get a picture in front of the porch or seated inside your dream car doing a test drive. 
To make these vision boards, varied tools can be used. The easiest is to do the old scrap book method of cutting pictures and pasting on a board. Otherwise, Pinterest can be an amazing tool, PowerPoint or keynote your vision board. Once they are done, make them into a poster you can place somewhere that you can see every day is the best method to help actualising the dreams. Maybe on your bathroom mirror or as a poster in your office or bedroom. 

4.Make action steps for each board to achieve the same 

  

Often we make the mistake of making a vision board and expecting it to work magically for us. Detailing action steps to achieving some of these hairy audacious goals goes a long way in making them come true and giving it steps to reality. 

For example, if your vision is to write a book, your action steps would be:

a.finalise subjects in the next 3 months

b.start writing and keep aside an hour every weekend towards this from December 

c.Find an editor to work with

d. Attend the literary festival and find a mentor 
This should be applied across as many categories with tangible steps to achieve your 5 or 10 year vision board in bite size chunks. The trick is to dream without boundaries and make them big hairy audacious goals and then to break them down into practical steps to get there. 

5.Rewire your deep rooted relation  with success and prepare for receiving 

  

The biggest stumbling block to achieving success and our dreams are our deep rooted relation with the concept of success and money. We are all brought up with phrases we hear in our youth from family and friends. “Rich people are corrupt”, “you can’t be successful without hard work”, “money is evil” and many more thoughts and advice that slow us down without us realizing them. 
It’s important to work on being ready internally for the success that will come and prepare ourselves to embrace the future.  Our self fulfilling prophecy is engineered deep in the mind and every preparation will fail if we don’t believe or desire success within. 

Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.

-Henry David Thoreau

Connected minds 

Once in a while, I let the monk get away from his solitude and mediate with others. The energy of connected silence i find visually and emotionally uplifting. 
In life too, we come across people who suddenly cross our paths, where you can immediately sense their aura, their positive energy and shared intent. Suddenly, there’s a connection like you knew them from a lifetime ago. People always carry their energy around them and this speaks way before they even utter a word.   

    
 

Depicting clarity 

I am exploring  ways to depict meditation and self knowledge. I found a few metaphors that align with my interpretation of the process. 

I am using building forms to depict the outside world and symbolize the noise of everyday life. The energy lines around the monk attempt to describe the changes and the aura that permeates from self realization and The winged eye is awareness and enlightenment. I also explored adding movement or wind as a metaphor of the positive feeling of change. I wanted the monk to have a sense of calmness, stillness and equanimity too. 
What’s wonderful is that the process of drawing is transferring this sense of calm to me. 

  

    
   

Everyone meditates differently 

Meditation is best defined as a state where the mind is silent, completely still and without distraction.  The mind is clear, relaxed, and focused inward. We aspire to achieve a state where the mind is silent and no longer distracts. 

Every individual will have their own process to get to this state of being. It’s not necessary to attain the state of inner clarity only through traditional methods.  Some may find it being lost in a pure state of bliss within their craft, or work, or music, at a concert or the opera, sitting by a brook, trekking or as a whirling Sufi dervish. It’s about switching off into a zone where every external distraction switches off one by one till you are left in a state of pure balance. 

For me this state is when I sketch. I find myself at peace and being able to blank every bit of information that wants to catch my mind. I find myself enveloped in a place of complete inner focus and stillness. 
This sketch is both my moment of being completely still and also depicting how each individual has their own mediation process. 
 

Having fun sketching! 

I am managing to take out precious time every day to sketch. Still exploring quotes and concepts that inspire. The addition of using water color pens has allowed a add a dash of color to bring alive these ideas. I am also having a blast with the ribbon style 3D typography that’s allowing the words to look fluid and free. 

   
         

Letting go

To be in a place where you can mould your self without the baggage of the past. To be able to access, be aware of and then let go of everything which doesn’t sit well with our values. To be able to simply be in a state of equanimity and see situations and moments for what they are. 

To reach a place of equanimity, we need to let go. And for that that to happen we need to know ourselves. 

This sketch is a simplified depiction of the pursuit of letting go and telling ourselves that its that easy. Just let go.  

 

Depicting meditation 

An illustration I made over coffee yesterday where I attempted to depict what meditation is for me. 

Meditation is to spend time in quiet thought where the mind is an empty vessel. The mind learns to form a ring that keeps external chatter completely away and slowly submerge into a space of complete inner silence. 
This is the space where we uncover the purest form of who we really are.  

 

The monks are back

My sketchbook is filled with monks now. It is fast evolving into my own meditation space. I blank my mind completely and let the pen do its work letting things evolve on their own. Finding kanji for values which resonate with me is exciting. The pictures tend to depict these values and then I seek the kanji.

I am loving the meditative process of drawing meditating monks in front of mountains. 🙂

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Sketches in a Singapore coffee shop

While Travelling to Singapore, I did a few sketches at a Starbucks on orchard street. It was midnight and raining outside.

While I was sketching people around me, I suddenly realised that on each table sat groups of friends busy with their phones. They were hanging out but not conversing or acknowledging each other. Smiling into their devices wrapped in its glow they hardly looked up at each other. Then they paid the bill and left.

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Here’s another page that’s an ode to coffee!

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And here’s one more exploration from my monk series that’s an attempt to add more color to my illustrations and also attempt a much larger format. It explores the meaning of equanimity.

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I haven’t been documenting everyday moments much while exploring hand lettering or doodling funny animals or monks.

Note to self: carry sketch book around and explore interesting snippets of every day life on paper.

20 Quotes every designer will love!!

 

Here’s a collection of wisdom converted into visuals. These are curated mainly from Pinterest and I don’t know the source for most. Each of them inspire and sympathise.Many of the visual quotes/ phrases connect and summarise the thoughts of a creative individual. Have fun browsing and add your list to them.

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The definition of business simplified in one line!

Danny Myers has set up some of the best restaurant chains in the world including shake shack. In his book “setting the table”, he defines business so beautifully. Within these words is an ocean of ideas. In essence, this is all an entrepreneur should ever care about.

He says:

“Business, like life, is about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”

Wow!! Superb, simple and all encompassing.

Read the book. It’s an eye opener even for people outside th F&B industry.

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