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4 Things to Avoid As Your Business Evolves

challenges growing businesses faces

4 THINGS TO AVOID AS YOUR BUSINESS EVOLVES

So you’ve started your business. You have a fantastic team to work with, a great vision for your product or service, and you possess the talent and intelligence to get your company off its feet. Sound about right?

Business leaders often excel when their company is in the start-up phase. However, many of the skills required to start a business don’t translate well to the future of the company. In this article, we’ll go over the four big mistakes that businesses make that prevent them from “scaling” their company, as well as advice for how to avoid these mistakes.

Loyalty

The first problem that often holds a company back is that their leaders are often too loyal to their team. Obviously, you and your team need to have a strong bond. However, business leaders are often blinded by their loyalty that they refuse to recognize when a team member is not performing strong enough. Strong business leaders are objective about their team members, and are able to compartmentalize their personal relationships as separate from what is necessary for their business.

As your business grows, set aside time every few weeks to consider the strengths and contributions of each team member, and be honest when a member’s performance needs to improve.

Task prioritization

The second problem involves the tasks that your company prioritizes. Start-up companies set out with a short set of tasks: putting together a team, designing the product, starting an advertising campaign, etc. As the business grows, so does the task list, and many entrepreneurs fail to accommodate. Businesses with poor task prioritization either believe that they have to invest the same amount of energy into each individual task, or they focus on the same tasks that they started out with and fail to adapt to changing needs.

Your business should set time aside to evaluate its priorities. Successful businesses will often use the quarterly system to their advantage, meeting every 90 days to evaluate their priorities and focus on achieving a few measurable goals rather than a lot of specific tasks. Taking the time to evaluate your priorities will keep your business competitive and at the edge of your industry.

Tunnel vision

Similar to task prioritization, business leaders become inadvertently inflexible when they operate with tunnel vision. Start-up companies often have one goal in mind: successfully building and selling their product. However, the unsuccessful company will be so focused on one specific product that they won’t adapt to changes in the industry or listen to feedback from investors and partners.

Your vision for your product is what helped you create your business, but don’t be held back by it. To avoid this, you should do two things: 1) take note of feedback from your investors and team members. Whether scheduling this feedback into business meetings or reaching out 1-on-1, this feedback is essential to fostering a successful product and a productive company. 2) keep ahead of market trends. A business that is hyper-focused on its product may fail to realize that the market’s interests have shifted, or they may fail to create an effective advertising campaign as marketing strategies evolve. Use teamwork and collaboration to your advantage as you and your company evolve with the ever-changing marketplace.

Isolation

The last problem that start-up companies face as they move forward is isolation. At the beginning, isolation is crucial: long, fervent hours spent designing and developing a product with a select group of people often produces the most influential work. Many visionaries and brilliant entrepreneurs themselves have been introverted, preferring quiet thought and planning to the social demands of leadership.

But those social demands do arise, and the worst thing a business can do is stay holed up – including the CEO. Successful businesses thrive both in isolation and in the spotlight, and an effective company evolves with the demands of social media, advertising strategies, and public campaigns.

Keep these tips in mind as your business blooms from bud to bouquet. As your business evolves from isolation to the spotlight, keep us in mind for branding and visual design services. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we will get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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How Networking Helps Your Business

HOW NETWORKING HELPS YOUR BUSINESS

No man is an island, and no business is either. As your company goes from idea to full-fledged product and brand, networking is essential to keep your business in the public view. We’ve broken down the different relationships any business ought to foster in order to reach its full potential.

Relationships

Of course, the most important networking you can do is with the clients you already have. Your clients are the reason your company stays afloat – you wouldn’t have a business if they weren’t invested in your product or service. Maintaining these relationships are essential. 

Clients will be more likely to remain faithful to your company if you continue to offer them incentives. Offering deals for future products, maintaining a friendly social media presence, upholding your brand and the story behind it, and putting out an informative blog or newsletter are all ways to keep your clientele engaged and interested. This engagement can lead to a broader web presence as well as company referrals from your clients, both of which can increase traffic to your business. Ensuring your clients stay with your business and recommend your product to new members is the foundation of your company’s relationships.

Referral partners

A referral partner is a person or organization that is committed to directing relevant traffic to your website or business. Referral partnerships are a two-way street: they provide you with potential clients, and you provide them with a need of their own, whether that’s resources, ideas, funding, etc. 

Referral partners are great sources of business. Since they are not associated with the company itself, potential clients are more likely to trust them and their opinion of your product or service. Moreover, referral partners are usually associated with your industry, so they are marketing your business to the right people. Fostering these relationships through social media campaigns and networking events are a great way to boost public interest in your business through a 1-on-1 basis.

  1. Organizations 

As a company moves from idea to full-fledged product, the company often makes the mistake of staying in isolation from other organizations, both within the industry and outside it. 

Networking with other businesses opens up new avenues for marketing, relationships, and business ideas. Businesses with similar goals can: host cross-promotional events; publish joint marketing material; partner up for volunteer events, etc. Joining a small business organization or attending meet and greets with other businesses can also help spark relationships and provide useful advice. Finally, taking these ideas to meet businesses outside of your industry can also introduce clients you wouldn’t normally encounter to what you and your company do!

The Media 

The importance of the media cannot be understated. And, with more and more media options available today than ever before – the internet, TV, print, local advertising, small business flyers, etc. – you have the option to fine tune your marketing strategy to the right medium. But first you need that relationship.

First, make sure you are marketing yourself to the right media – different demographics rely on different news sources. When it comes to actually fostering relationships, you want to make sure that you have isolated reporters who are interested in what you do, keep your media lists up to date, and keep in regular contact with journalists. This way, the media will not only push out your brand to the right audience, but they’ll say exactly what you want them to.

Lasting advice

What’s the most important aspect of maintaining these relationships? Keep in contact! We cannot stress this enough – the key to networking is to always follow up. Keep offering services and reaching out to your clients, maintain a regular two-way relationship with your referral partners, schedule regular meetings and events with organizations, and always keep the press updated on what you and your business are doing. As a business, you are in the public eye of the consumer, and while the work to maintain these relationships may be exhausting, the payout can be tremendous.

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Setting Your Business Apart From the Crowd

setting your business apart from the crowd using branding

SETTING YOUR BUSINESS APART FROM THE CROWD

Your business is a lot like your child. Your child makes you feel immensely proud, and your child motivates you to help them be the best versions of themselves. 

Your passion and expertise as a business owner will certainly aid your business in the long run, but business owners often become so hyper-focused on their goals that they neglect to properly brand their company. As your business moves forward, consider the following questions:

Why should someone work with you vs. your competitor?

It’s an obvious question, and something you’ve already considered when it comes to creating your product or service. But has your brand answered that question for your clients?

Businesses often offer products that are very similar to each other. The difference is how they brand themselves. 

Consider bubblegum companies, like Trident versus Orbit. Ostensibly, they offer the same product, right? Both offer chewing gum with a refreshing taste, and if you’re someone who doesn’t chew gum, then they probably look like the exact same product in the grocery store checkout line.

But say you’re in the market for the right bubble gum. This is where branding takes you to the next step. Trident’s branding and visual design is clean and focused, like a doctor’s office or a bright seaside day. This probably appeals more to older Millennials and Gen X’ers. Orbit, by contrast, has a younger, more modern design. Their marketing appeals more directly to teens and young adults, and its visual design is more sparkly and ostentatious. 

This type of branding creates a visual story for the audience. Even if we don’t consciously register how these companies are appealing to us, we may be more inclined to buy one over the other, even on a spark-of-the-moment decision. Two products can tell vastly different stories, and your product needs to do the same in regards to your company’s competition and ideal audience.

What do you want to be known for? 

The other branding strategy to keep in mind is the impact your company has on your consumer. Obviously, every business wants to be known for a useful or beneficial product. But businesses also have personalities. Humans have an innate need to categorize everything and see human-like qualities in things that aren’t human, and a business is no different.

Consider the tech companies Apple and Microsoft. What are they known for? Apple is regarded as sleek and cutting edge. They’ve branded themselves with a consistent, minimalistic design, and their products are regarded as higher-status devices with high ergonomic value. Microsoft, by contrast, is known for a user interface that is more customizable and better adaptable to different types of software. Where Apple is user friendly, Microsoft tends to be more flexible technology, giving them the ability to brand themselves as personalizable.

Each company’s brand emphasizes certain values and key traits. While one is not objectively better than the other, each company plays its strengths to its key demographics. Moreover, these traits are recognizable by everyone, regardless of their demographic background or which company they actually use. These brands have highlighted key personality traits, and their image is virtually inseparable from these traits.

So, why should someone choose your business? What is your business known for? If you’re unsure, CAST Design is here to help. We specialize in branding and visual storytelling, creating company identities that stand out against the crowd. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we will get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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Why Branding Matters

why branding is important

WHY BRANDING MATTERS

A business and a brand go hand in hand. Your brand is how you control your company’s image and its message to consumers. That’s why businesses that don’t work on their branding still have a brand – it’s just not a very good one.

From standing out among the competition to retaining your clients, let’s go over all the benefits to having a brand.

Good brands catch the consumer’s attention

A good brand has a great visual design, a clear message, and tells a story about the company itself. Why? Because that’s what grabs your attention! These elements of a brand are what attract consumers to your company, as people are drawn to stories and ideas they can relate to. Targeting the right demographic and convincing people to invest in your product or service are the key payouts of a good brand, as well as the satisfaction in running a business that represents you!

Brand loyalty

In addition to attracting new customers, brands help retain those customers by inspiring brand loyalty. Think about it: people who have an iPhone usually stick with iPhones, and the same goes for Samsung and Google phones. This is because consumers identify with their brand! People are drawn to the stories these companies tell and find those stories reflected in their phones’ respective interface and design. Brands aren’t just about finding new customers, they’re about retaining them.

People pay more for good branding

Smart companies know this: consumers want to purchase products that they identify with and that reflect their personal values and beliefs. That’s why companies with strong brands are able to charge more for their products. Whether you incorporate being socially and environmentally conscious into your story, or whether you emphasize a commitment to style and originality, your brand attracts the people who are looking for you – and willing to pay big bucks for it!

Branding implies quality

Last, a strong brand implies a strong product. Companies with strong brands inspire trust in the product. Since the company has taken the time to deliver something professional and personalized, consumers are more likely to think they have also make the product of higher quality than competitors have. As a result, your brand garners more interest, retains more customers, and allows you to charge a higher price for a product well made!

 

From branding to visual design and storytelling, We specialize in creating company identities that stand out against the crowd. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we will get you started on the next step to branding your business. 

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DESIGNING A BRAND THAT COMMUNICATES YOUR MESSAGE

DESIGNING A BRAND THAT COMMUNICATES YOUR MESSAGE

When designing a logo, you do not just start with a blank canvas. It’s not about pretty colors and a picture you like. Your logo should convey what you want to be known for. Through our branding and logo design process we ask that exact, and very important, question. What do you want to be known for?

Once we have a thorough understanding of what you want to be known for we take to research. We need to understand your market and where you will fit into it. Market research involves gathering information about your target audience, your industry, and existing competitors. Market research is an important first step in positioning yourself correctly in your industry.

Based on the information gathered from the steps above, and through an in-depth assessment, we create what is known as your messaging framework. Messaging framework is essential to designing a brand that communicates your unique message. This framework includes the brand promise, positioning statement, main message, and 3 brand pillars. Each part of the framework is imperative for brand consistency in all marketing efforts. Let’s learn more about what each part of the framework means and how they work together.

Brand Promise

Your brand promise is exactly what it says. It is the promise you are making to your customers. This is what customers should be able to reasonably expect every time they interact with your brand. The more follow through you have with a brand promise, the more value your brand has and the more loyal your customers will be.

Positioning Statement

Your brand positioning statement describes your products or services and how they fill the needs of your target audience. Your positioning statement aids in crafting a succinct message that is in alignment with your goals.   

Main Message

Your main brand messaging should convey value to your customers. Having a main brand message does not mean you will use the same wording on every piece of content you produce and disseminate to the public. It means that the underlying message will always be the same. The main brand message is what inspires, motivates, persuades, and influences buyers. It tells your unique story. Your audience should always be able to recognize a piece of content that is yours based on the messaging, even if your logo or name is not associated with the content.

Brand Messaging Pillars

Your brand pillars are what substantiates your main message. These pillars show proof in your messaging and deliver value to customers, helping convenience them of what you’re selling. Think of the main message as your essay topic or first paragraph and your brand pillars as your three supporting paragraphs. All of this is tied together through your conclusion paragraph, which is your call to action.

As you can see, the brand messaging framework is in depth, and what we described above barely scratches the surface. Every step of the process is as important as the next and each should be handled with care. Developing and delivering an authentic and consistent brand is the foundation of every successful business. CAST Design Team is here to help you be just that, a successful business with a brand that speaks for itself. Book a free consultation today to get started.

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How to Stand Out Online

STAND OUT ONLINE

There is a common misconception that if you build a website you are going to get traffic or sales. This is very far from the truth. With the availability of DIY website builders, anyone and their mom can open a business and create a website. This is awesome for the new entrepreneur, but at the same time it means standing out online is now easier said than done.

So, our motto is: Just because you build it, does not mean they will come. You may have the most amazing product to sell, but your average, run-of-the-mill website is not going to produce the results you want to see. The Internet is just too big these days!

We are here to help you and your business succeed. Here are our three top tips to standing out online and getting the attention you deserve.

Start with a Unique Brand

Before you build your website, think about your brand and how it will help showcase your business on your website. Your brand is what sets your product or service apart from other companies that offer similar products or services. Branding your business may sound scary, but this is actually the fun part of starting your own business. You get to be creative here!

Some things to consider when branding your business are:

  • The name of your business
  • Color schemes and a unique logo
  • The tone and voice of your business
  • The message you want to share and what you want to be known for

Once you have a better idea of your unique brand, you can continue building your website. If you’re stuck in the branding phase and need help, check out our branding process and jump on a call with us!  

Have a Professional, Easy-to-Use Website

There is so much more to your website than it looking pretty! We highly suggest hiring a professional website designer to help you launch the perfect website the first time around. The reason for this is because there are many technical aspects that should be taken into consideration when building your website that will cause it to perform better than others on the Internet. The technical areas are the ones that DIY websites can’t do for you. If you decide to create your own website, we highly suggest taking a few online courses or reading a few how-to technical guides. Outside of the technical aspects, here are three other things to keep in mind when designing a website:

Your Brand

The branding work you did for your business will come in handy when designing your website. By sticking to the branding decisions you made early on you can keep your website looking professional and your marketing message consistent across all platforms. Your color scheme will flow smoothly throughout the site and your words will come easily when you’ve chosen the tone of voice you’d like to convey.

Simplicity

You don’t need every widget and application available to man on your website. Choose a few simple features and make those work for you. Too many applications and frills will make your website less user friendly and people won’t want to come back!

Professionalism

At all costs, you must keep your website professional! Even if you built your website yourself, you don’t want it to look like you did. You want it to look professional and well thought out. Choose professional images, fonts, colors, and applications that match your brand. If you are struggling, reach out for help! Our team is ready to help you brand and build your site professionally.

Once your website is done, you’re ready to start sharing it with your audience.

Market Your Business  

You’ve got a business, a brand, and a website. Now let’s get some sales and website traffic! Outside of the technical aspects we mentioned above there are other marketing efforts that you can implement to help drive traffic to your site. The more you get your brand and your website in front of people, the better. All you need to do is make your website more visible to your audience, which means showing up where your audience is.

There are some basic marketing moves that you can make that will help drive traffic to your site. These include:

  • Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.)
  • SEO through blogs and your website
  • Networking
  • Digital Advertising  
  • Print Advertising (direct mailers, business cards, signage, etc.)

Feeling Overwhelmed?

If the idea of branding, building a website, and marketing your business sounds overwhelming–have no fear! CAST Design Team is ready to take that stress away, so you can focus on the part of your business you love. Our team is comprised of professionals ready to brand, build, and market your business to success. Don’t waste any time, contact us today for a free consultation

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Do I need a business coach or a consultant?

Do I need a business coach or a consultant?

Do I need a business coach or a consultant?

Running a business is not something that one person can do completely on their own. Seeking out advice from other professionals or bouncing ideas off of someone you trust is a necessary action if you want your business to truly succeed. The best businesses out there aren’t run solely by one person but are a conglomerate of many ideas and opinions.

Business owners often hire business coaches to help them with the ‘business’ side of things such as implementing processes and looking at financials. The main difference between a business coach and a consultant is that a consultant comes up with answers. 

CAST design team does Creative Consulting. We are designers that have been trained in design thinking to come up with solutions. If you are not clear on how to present your business, unique proposition, or what makes you different from your competition has you feeling stuck, you should consider working with a Creative Consultant.

What Does a Creative Consultant Do?

A Creative Consultant is someone that can give you new ideas and induce fresh ways of think about aspects of your business that you may not have considered before. Creative Consultants are experts in their field and can guide you on what you should be doing across different platforms. This includes but is not limited to how you are showing up online, employee culture, value proposition, and marketing. Combining business with creativity sets businesses apart!

Sitting down with a Creative Consultant for even just an hour or two can help spark ideas and bring about big differences in your business.

Why Should I Work With a Creative Consultant?

A Creative Consultant will help you push through plateaus in your business that can be solved through a little bit of creative thought. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the flow of your website or updating a logo–but it’s something you wouldn’t have come up with on your own. As a creative expert, they can quickly identify weaknesses in your messaging. Working with a Creative Consultant can be beneficial if you’re not really interested in paying someone to fully handle something like your businesses social media or website. You know you can execute those sorts of tasks, even if it takes you a long time, but when it comes to best practices you just really aren’t sure. You aren’t required to work with the Creative Consultant through the implementation phase of these new ideas or plans, but the Creative Consultant can provide you with best practices and assist in the development of your strategy that you can then execute later.

Whether your business is new or seasoned, a Creative Consultant can help you find growth by providing insights on things like user experience and branding and by offering advice on your overall marketing strategy.

Success Story

In a recent conversation with one of our clients, we suggested that they incorporate a questionnaire into a speech they were giving to a large audience. The speech wasn’t directly meant to provide our Client with new clients of her own but we knew that by adding this small detail into her speech she was more likely to get audience engagement and in turn had a higher probability of getting new clients from it. Well, our client ended up seeing success the very next time they gave the speech! A simple, creative idea can bring you growth and success, and sometimes when you’re staring at the problem or product all day those simple, creative thoughts don’t come as easily. As Creative Consultants, we help you position your product or service at the top of your industry.

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The Best Approach to Building a Website

The Best Approach to Building a Website:

Hiring a Professional Web Designer or Creating a DIY Website

The Best Approach to Building a Website:

Hiring a Professional Web Designer or Creating a DIY Website

Often time when starting out on your entrepreneurial journey you want to save as much money as possible, so you take to doing many things on your own. Through the process, you find that somethings you’re just naturally good at, even though they’re outside of your typical wheelhouse, and other times you find that you’re just absolutely terrible at them. Let’s face it. You’re an expert in your field, and if your field isn’t marketing, web design, or user experience, then you’re probably not going to be great at those things, especially when it comes to the more technical side like building a website. Sure, you could create a DIY (Do It Yourself) website – but when you use platforms like GoDaddy, Weebly, Wix and Squarespace, you don’t really own your website. And also, to be quite frank, it probably took you five times as long to create something that’s subpar to what a professional web designer could have done, in turn wasting both time and money.

Using a professional web designer has its perks. These individuals have a deeper understanding of user experience, which allows them to extract the right information from your brand or company to include on the website, providing the user with the most complete experience. A professional knows not only how to design a website, but how also to generate sales from it.

To give you an idea of a few of the things that professional web designers, like those at CAST Design Team, take into consideration when building a website, we’ve included a list of terms below. Knowing these terms will help you understand the importance of hiring a professional and communicate better with your web designer once you hire them.

Terms to Know

CTA

The CTA or Call to Action is a clear encouragement to the audience to take action. One of the best and most common examples is the “click here” button. We often see this button or hyperlink shrewdly placed on several sites. Some CTAs are more effective than others, like: learn more, sign-up, book now, download. CTAs are very effective, especially when you use “Power Words” which are words that will get the attention of your audience. The best web designers know which power words to use where. The user flow from one page to another is important to get users down your sales funnel. CTAs can greatly help with this.

Why should you have CTAs?

  1. Clear Direction to Help the Audience Avoid Confusion and Make it Easier for Them to Navigate Your Website
  2. Direct Your Audience to Important Information that YOU want them to see
  3. Direct your Audience to Your Products and Boost Sales

SEO

Have you heard of SEO but not sure what it means? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the technique used to increase your organic (non-paid) ranking on search engines such as Google. That all still sounds a little vague and confusing. Well, to be honest, it will. SEO isn’t a simple task to complete and it doesn’t return results over night. While some people think SEO means adding a bunch of keywords to your website copy, it is much more than that. There are backend technical areas to address and a systematic way to include keywords into the front-end website copy.  

User Experience

We’ve mentioned User Experience a few times in this blog already. So now it’s time to dive into what it really means. User experience is about how a user feels when they’re actively searching your site and how they feel once they’ve left. User experience takes into consideration the values and needs of a customer. Bad user experience such as an unclear navigation bar or broken links can cause a user to exit the site sooner than intended. A good user experience can foster sales and leave customers happy and stress-free when leaving your site, in terms causing them to tell their friends about your company. Many things go into user experience such as technical navigation, usability, functionality, and how the overall design of the site incorporates the brand.

When you started reading this blog you were probably pretty certain that you could build a great DIY website, which Hey, you may be able to! But chances are, your business would greatly benefit from a website built by a professional.  So, are you ready to hire a web designer? We encourage you to take a look at the services we provide. We’re here to make this process as seamless and stress-free as possible. Let us know how we can help. We look forward to helping you communicate your vision through design!