We are so happy to have Sara Conte (joining our Latino Startup Week as a judge. Sara is co-founder of PrestoBox, the world’s first automated branding agency. Sara’s resume is impressive: she is has earned experience in many industries (including venture capital and e-commerce), she sits on the board of many organizations and she is a prominent fixture in the Portland startup community. Her background helped to prepare her for her current challenge of running her own startup – where she learns new lessons each day about sales, customer service, analytics, technology, SEO, social media and the art of partnerships.
Don’t miss the opportunity to get valuable insights from people like Sara. See you at Startup Weekend Latino!
Q. What are you passionate about?
A. I’m passionate about building businesses – especially ones that utilize technology in new ways to solve problems and create value. Also super passionate about raising smart, healthy girls.
Q. If you could give advice to your 10 year old self today, what would you say?
A. I am living with my 11 year old self – my mini me daughter Hannah! I tell her to have fun, work hard and be kind.
Q. What’s the best advice you ever received?
A. My parents taught me to keep reaching for the stars – and enjoy the journey.
Q. What is your personal mission statement?
A. Have fun, work hard and be kind.
REGARDING STARTUP WEEKEND LATINO:
Q. What compelled you to participate in Startup Weekend Latino as a Judge/Mentor?
A. Juan Barraza’s big smile, hablo un poco español and a fire to help entrepreneurs from all walks launch successful ventures.
Q. What excites you most about participating in this event?
A. I’m hoping to help get some new ventures launched! And fingers crossed we have good salsa.
Q. What advice would you give to participants of Latino Startup Week?
A. As you develop your ideas, remember to put the customer first. Quickly identify your core customer and prove that your product will delight them.
Q. What is your opinion of the current state of diversity in the entrepreneurial community?
A. Entrepreneurs come in every shape and size. We shouldn’t cookie cutter our impressions of who’s going to succeed.
Q. What is the biggest factor limiting diversity in entrepreneurship?
A. Know your market and sell to them. Take a risk. Support your friends.
Q. What would you do to ensure increased diversity?
A. Access to training and capital for diverse communities.
Q. What advice would you give someone interested in becoming an entrepreneur?
A. It’s a journey and a leap of faith. Make sure you’re wearing the right pack with the right partners – on the right trail. Know your customer.
Get your tickets to Startup Weekend Latino today!
Building a brand that’s authentic, consistent, and rooted in a distinct personality separates you from the competition and allows your customers to connect with you on a more meaningful level.
Building a brand can feel daunting. In fact many small businesses feel like it’s something that only the “big guys” can afford. But branding is something that every company can do if you follow a few basic rules.
Step 1: Remember that a brand is more than a logo.A brand is a whole ecosystem of how you communicate with the outside world. In a nutshell, your brand is a promise to people about the way you will do business. This promise affects how you build your website, how you create your business card, even how you answer the phone—because the style, colors, and words you choose should reflect the emotions your customers will have when they use your product.
Tip: Look at your logo and write down five values that your logo will stand for. This is what people should remember about your business. Make sure these values are carried out in everything you do.
Step 2: Define the “head” of your brand system.Who’s your target audience? Why is your product or service better than the competition? What do you do that no one else can do? One great way to cull this information is to ask your customers why they do business with you.
Tip: List the types of people you want to target who would resonate with that promise. Create an exact model of your perfect customer. What do they look like, act like? Where do they shop?
Step 3: Define the “heart” of your brand system.As much as we like to think that humans are rational beings, we take action based on emotion. Building your brand is about creating a living and breathing persona that customers will fall in love with. That is the stuff that creates long-time loyalty and will get you through the natural ups and downs of any economy.
Tip: List the emotions your customers will feel when they experience your products or services.
Step 4: Find your brand voice.
Once the “head” and “heart” of your brand framework are defined, it’s time to define your basic brand personality. Are you bold? Are you funny? Are you trustworthy? Are you conscientious? Choose the adjectives that underlie your brand voice and make sure your voice is consistent in every branding and marketing piece you create. If your company became a person, what would that person be like? Brainstorm a list of personality traits and qualities. Be as specific and quirky as you like.
Tip: Play the celebrity game. If your brand came to life as a historical figure, sports figure, movie star, etc, who would that be? Think about what your company would eat for breakfast. Think about how your company is with kids. Think about what clothes your company would wear.
Step 5: Collect your brand images.
Photography can truly capture the imagination—and wallets—of potential customers. Well-chosen photographs with a consistent theme make a big difference in how your brand is perceived. Just think about Nike and how powerfully their brand photography conveys their brand message. Browse a few photography sites like Getty or iStock and start building a collection of photographs that represent your brand. Plug in the key words that you identified in Step 1 and Step 3. You can use this imagery in promotional materials, on your website, and it should give you ideas when you design all of your branding materials.
Tip: Be consistent in how you apply this imagery. Don’t forget about how you photograph people in your office. Make sure it fits within your brand ecosystem.
Step 6: Choose your brand colors.Finding the right shade of green, or the right shade of red, or just the right combination of yellow and grey can do wonders in anchoring an unassailable position in your customer’s mind. It’s important to build a system of brand colors that include core driver colors in combination with bold accents. Look over your emotions list from Step 3 and your photo collection from Step 5 and choose a few colors for your brand color palette.
Tip: For additional inspiration, go through pages of magazines and tear out pages of colors that you like. You can match these colors to actual Pantone number codes (listed for free online) for reference with designers.
Step 7: Select your type styles.Typography is a subtle but highly influential way to convey your brand message. A modern sans-serif type tells the world you’re innovative and ready to find unexpected solutions. A traditional serif type tells the world you’re dependable and trustworthy. You can even experiment with a combination of serif and sans-serif type styles to create a totally unique brand expression. Find websites, print ads and brochures of companies with a brand similar to yours and look at the fonts they selected.
Tip: Try a few different styles until you find the ones that fit. There are fewer type styles online, so be sure to combine both online and offline sources.
There it is! The components of a successful brand including your brand voice, your brand photography, your brand colors, and your brand type styles—all wrapped up into a smart and utterly compelling brand system.
Easy? No. Fun? Yes. Worthwhile? Absolutely. If you take a look at any of the rockin’-the-world companies like Apple and Starbucks and Nike you’re bound to find a well-thought-out and strategic brand system in place. Just keep these basic brand tenets in mind and you’ll have the foundation in place for a business that can truly stand the test of time.
Read more: http://articles.bplans.com/the-definitive-guide-to-building-a-brand/#ixzz3e1CDHOcH
It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running, your website has to perform. If your website doesn’t come up in Google, you may as well not exist. And if your customer does find your website, you have 15 seconds to capture their attention – or they’re gone.
We create branded websites for small businesses and help our customers wrestle with these challenges. Online visibility and performance is an art. It takes a lot of work – every day – to really stand out online. But here are three quick fixes that make a lasting impact.
1. Set Your Title Tags
Our first quick fix – set your title tags. The title tag is the most important element on your web page to search engines. But most small businesses don’t set them – or even know what they are.
What are title tags? They are the words used to describe each page of your website. Look at the top of your browser. Hover your mouse over the open tabs. The words that come up are your title tags. This tells the user and search engines exactly what the page is about.
What to include in the title tag? The most important words on the page – and those words that your customers will use to search for you. Usually this includes your company name and what you do. For local businesses, this usually includes your location (“Indian Restaurant in Portland, Oregon”). For many entrepreneurs this will include their name (“Susan Smith Coaching, Austin, Texas”). Set a specific title tag for every page of your website –based on the content.
2. Get Mobile Friendly
Our second quick fix – get mobile friendly. More people on our planet own mobile phones than toothbrushes. Your website must work on mobile. Here are some additional stats to prove this point:
So what do you do? Find out if you’re mobile compatible already. If you’re not the solution may not be as quick, but will still be very worthwhile. A good place to start is with Google – placing more emphasis on mobile compatibility. They sent shock waves to webmasters everywhere with their notices sent out in January and February about mobile compatibility. Google is now testing your website for mobile and will rank it lower if it finds any “mobile usability errors”. The good news is, Google has lots of tools to help you fix the problems. Start there to find specific instructions on switching your website to mobile.
3. Cut Your Text
Our final quick fix –cut your text. Less than 20% of content on an average web page is read. People are constantly skimming. They get bored in 15 seconds. So you need to make it really easy on them to get the points on your page.
Instead of writing out paragraphs of information, summarize your main points into a couple of words. Use these as your headings in easy to read fonts. Combine this with a visual that also makes your point. Take a look at some of the big brands you admire online. Examine how they get their points across. It probably doesn’t include a lot of text.
Check out the most popular website in the world – Google. They’re popular for many reasons - including the elegant simplicity of everything they do. The Google homepage feels refreshing and easy at each visit. Today I counted 12 words on the page. Also look at some of their supporting content pages (my current favorite Google site is Google Trends) for inspiration. You won’t see a lot of text.
Look at your own website. If you’re like most small businesses, you should probably cut your text in half – and then in half again. “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” This famous quote may have been introduced as early in 1657 – and is even more relevant today. Take the time to write shorter letters on your website. Your customers will thank you for it.
Sara Conte is a frequent contributor to online discussions about strategy, branding and entrepreneurship.