I am always on the lookout for interesting logo designs.
I recently came across the website for bluegrasssodinstalled.ca, home of Clay's Lawn and Snow, Inc.
Immediately the organization's logo stood out to me. I like the stylized imagery of the blue snow flake and green grass in the logo icon.
Of the elements of the logo that draw my attention most is the color palate. However, I think the whole logo works well overall.
The blue used in the snow flake is a bold yet soft blue that leans a bit toward turquoise. That blue is repeated in the word 'snow' as part of the organization name (Clay's Lawn and Snow, Inc.).
The green of the grass in the icon image and the word 'lawn' in the company name is a matted forest green that works well with blue. The two colors offer an inviting and bold color combination that catches one's attention.
The only part I would potentially change, though I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, is the two-toned border surrounding and encapsulating the text of the logo. I would have likely chosen one solid color all around. Again, that’s minor in my opinion, and it’s simply my opinion.
What I also like to see with a well-designed logo is how that branding is used and carried throughout the rest of the organization’s marketing materials. In this case, I only have the website as a reference, but the look and feel of the logo and brand image it creates is carried throughout the website and its design, which is good to see.
Posted by Nick Venturella
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So here's the scene:
You have a local business networking engagement to attend in an hour and you just realized you’re down to your last three business cards.
You scoff at yourself, exclaiming out loud, “I can’t show up to this event with three business cards.”
However, you also realize you don’t really have time to go to your favorite commercial printer to have additional cards designed and printed.
Does this scenario sound familiar? I have found myself in this situation more than I should admit. For that very reason I always keep some desktop-printer-friendly card stock on hand in my home office.
With SpringPublisher’s free business card software you can quickly and easily design your business cards and print them at home in time for your networking event.
SpringPublisher's software is easy to download and it has several templates you can use for your business cards as well as postcards, letterheads, labels and flyers. The software designs are compatible with your favorite brand of desktop printer card stock's like, Avery.
The benefit of this software over simply using Microsoft Word to create printable business cards in your home office is that SpringPublisher's software is designed for this, which makes it easy to get to the kind of cards you want to create. With Word, it's a bit clunky to manipulate designs and have things end up looking the way you want. Word was not originally designed to be a full-on desktop publishing software application.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
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Surprisingly, still many small to medium sized businesses are without their own website. In fact, 52% of business owners do not have a website, according to Yodle.com.
In today's dynamic, information-rich marketplace most businesses cannot afford to be without a website.
Some businesses choose to use something readily free and convenient like a Facebook Page. However, there are concerns with that approach. One major concern is that when a business creates a Facebook Page they do not technically own it. Facebook owns it.
Plus, if you've read some of the more recent Facebook algorithm updates you may have learned that Facebook has admitted that they will reduce the appearance of overly promotional posts from Facebook Pages this month (January 2015).
That means if you use your Facebook Page as your main online presence for your business less of your target audience will see the promotional or marketing-related posts you share. This will diminish your organic reach to your connections ("Likes") from your Facebook Page.
The point in this scenario is, Facebook owns and controls much of who is able to see your posts to drive traffic back to your main online business presence -- your Facebook Page. That means you're losing online brand exposure and marketing effectiveness.
I advocate that you buy your own business domain name. The cost of owning your own URL and building a website these days is pretty minimal, but well worth the small investment to have an online presence you control.
Your own website doesn't have to be complicated or fancy to be effective. Look at this automotive repair business site I came across while researching sites for this post: http://www.boschcarservicewelland.com/. This site is very straightforward, yet it gets across the main points that their audience likely wants to know. The site's navigation is simply 3 pages: Home, About Us and Contact Us. Easy. Done.
If you're using a Facebook Page as your main online business presence, GrowLoop can help you create a basic, affordable website of your own.
Posted by Nick Venturella
Business cards still make sense for networking and sharing contact information with new business connections.
It’s still my go-to marketing tool at networking events and various in-person social gatherings where I know I may run into new potential clients or referral sources.
I know these days there are plenty of electronic ways to share contact information via email and various mobile gadgets. However, there is something to be said about the presentation of a business card.
If you’re at a live networking event and you meet a new connection, while you both may have a smartphone which can make it easy to simply email each other contact information or manually create a new contact record in your phone, it’s a more memorable experience to have a tangible item (a business card) to hand to that person.
When you hand someone a business card you’re controlling the branding that other person is presented with -- they see your business logo and tag line. The card is a physical reminder of who you and your business are. It can be a nice memory recall device for the person you handed your card to helping them remember your conversation later.
If you’re like me, when I’m at a networking event meeting various people and collecting business cards I typically take a second after each conversation to write a few notes right on the business card I was given to recall later what we talked about for follow up purposes.
Even with the various smartphone apps that can snap a photo, using the phone’s camera, and digitize a business card’s information turning it into a contact record on one’s phone, having the business card to give to another person still provides the impact of presenting your brand. Sure the person receiving the card may snap a photo of it to digitize it’s information, but the presentation impact is still there.
I happened upon Printing Peach’s website (http://printingpeach.com/), and they have a nice selection of business card styles and weights to choose from.
So the next time you run out of business cards and you ask yourself whether or not you really need to get more printed in this digital age remember the business card is a simple marketing tool that helps further promote your brand.
posted by: Nick Venturella
Generating website conversions is what most businesses want from their website. The days of a passive online brochure (aka a website) are nearly gone. This is due to faster internet speeds, which means websites function better and the use of the internet in business has rapidly been accepted as a norm.
When I say the word 'conversion' what I'm really referring to is a website visitor taking action on a site in a way that is desired by the website owner. The end result is usually some exchange or interaction between the website visitor and the website owner.
For example, a website visitor fills out a contact form to download a free ebook and the website owner captures the visitor's contact information to build a sales relationship with that site visitor. It could also take the form of a website visitor being motivated to call the 800 number on the website to inquire further about the services advertised on the site.
Here are a few real examples:
If you look at http://virkpersonalinjurylawyers.com/, in the upper left-hand corner of the site you'll notice a call-to-action that asks the site visitor to call this law firm for a free consultation. If the site visitor takes that action that's one form of a website conversion.
Another example is, www.titantransline.com. On this site in the right-hand side bar is a call-to-action for a site visitor to get a quick quote on this trucking company's services.
Finally, on www.wzaccountants.ca, the call-to-action to 'convert' a site visitor is near the end of the home page's body copy that encourages site visitors to contact them to request an appointment with this accounting firm.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
Many entrepreneurs who begin their own business do so because they recognized an unfulfilled need in the marketplace, they wanted to be their own boss and reap the rewards of owning/controlling their job.
If that describes you, you likely also want to make a bit of money, at least enough to live comfortably and possibly save for retirement.
I think it’s less likely that people start businesses specifically to grow them and sell them unless they’re seeking venture capital funding, which in my opinion makes sense. In that scenario, the business owner is trying to raise capital from outside sources to rapidly grow the business toward a positive return for the investors and the business owner (from an eventual sale of the business) who put their time and effort into growing the business.
But what about solo-entrepreneurs or very small businesses -- consulting-like businesses?
Well, consulting businesses often fall into the camp mentioned earlier. These businesses are often started out of passion or an underserved need in the marketplace, or both. When these businesses are started the end game of selling the business is not always a forethought.
However, as retirement nears for such business owners selling the business could be an ideal way to exit the working world and gain the reward of the many years of service put in while building one’s consulting practice.
Such a consulting practice might be attractive to a younger consultant hungry to own his/her own business. It’s attractive because the business is established and likely has a steady client roster that could give a new consultant a nice base of clients to start with as they grow the business how they see fit.
If you’re considering selling your business or want more information on the subject, you might check out: http://www.mydefence.ca. They handle business purchases and sales, and offer some good explanations on their site about what’s involved.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
Not many consultants or coaches I know tend to think about patenting anything within their business, but it could serve to offer, not only protection for a particular aspect of your business, but also an opportunity for an additional revenue stream.
One doesn’t always think of patents when it comes to service business, but service businesses can patent unique processes they use within their business, and if you’ve developed a unique and successful method for your type of business or industry, it could be patentable.
The reason this could be an opportunity is because with a patent on your specific, successful service business process you can potentially license that process to other larger entities that may have a need for your process. This could allow you to earn royalties or up-front fees -- an additional source of income.
While there is financial reward to be had by patenting your unique business process it also offers protection for your process. This is similar to owning a copyright on a novel your wrote. The copyright protects you against others publishing your work without your permission.
However, to gain such protection your process and application for your patent have to adhere to specific criteria to receive the patent and its protection.
If you’re thinking about patenting a process, or even a product or invention idea, you may want to check out this site: http://2innovative.net/. This organization can help you navigate the world of patents and even help you promote your idea and patent for the benefit of your business.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
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I love this blog post from Seth Godin.
It refers to developing positive habits of daily activity -- for your life, your business, etc.
Here's the quote from his short post that I enjoyed most:
"One difference is that once you've committed to doing something daily, you find that the spirit moves you, daily."
Like anything in life your daily habits strung together over time will produce measurable results…or they won't if you don't take action.
Post by: Nick Venturella
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In an effort to produce some more content for this blog so it's relevant and useful for you, I am likely going to offer some website and entrepreneurial branding reviews/case studies to help you glean more marketing ideas for your business.
I'm also looking to supplement the original content I post here with some of my own comments as I introduce some curated content that I think you'll find useful.
Owner of GrowLoop
On a regular basis I review the websites of coaches, consultants, musicians, freelancers and a variety of B2B product and service businesses. I like to do these short website brand reviews to showcase what everyday entrepreneurs are doing with their online brands, what successes they're having and what improvements can potentially be made to better their digital marketing brand communication.
1. Logo - Is this company’s graphic mark (logo) professional looking and does it visually represent the characteristics of their brand?
On Michael Domenichetti's (http://hispersonalbest.com/) website he does have a prominent enough logo in the upper left-hand corner of his site (and on each page of his site). The logo is professional looking enough, though I do not believe that it makes me think his business is in real estate with the way the logo is designed. Also, the coloring as it sits on the home page makes the letter/images of the logo less readable than I'd like it to be. However, there are many supporting images on the home page that do indicate the real estate business as the industry Michael's business participates in. I think it can be tricky to develop a logo with your own name as your personal brand.
2. Value Statement - Does this business clearly identify what they do and why it’s useful to others?
Michael indicates on the home page that he helps people buy and sell real estate, but he doesn't give us much more than that on the home page. There is an obvious reason someone in the market for real estate would want to hire a professional to assist them in buying or selling their home -- people what to own a nice home for an appropriate value and/or sell their home because for one reason or another they need to move, and they would like to get the best value out of their home as they sell it. Although, this is more implied than articulated.
As you read further throughout the website you do get more about Michael's approach, which really leads into the differentiation...
3. Differentiation - How do clients uniquely benefit from this company’s product or service over similar products / services from competitors?
It's not clearly identified on the home page of Michael's website, but throughout the site you do get a good sense that Michael has been in and around the real estate business for most of his life. As a result he has an expertise that is unique to his level of experience -- that's a differentiating benefit for clients or potential clients he would work with.
Another key differentiation is his pursuit to thoroughly and deeply educate his audience about buying and selling real estate. Michael has several videos on his site to educate site visitors and he even let's his website visitors know that spends time regularly at the local coffee shop and anyone can schedule time with him while he's there to ask him real estate questions.
4. Target Market - Who is the audience this company is trying to attract? What are their demographics and psychographics? Are they clearly identified?
The audience is reasonably clear. It's certainly outlined on the website mainly by geography. Michael lists the communities that his business serves. By the descriptions of the cities/communities Michael serves it sounds like he's trying to attract families looking for suburban, family-oriented communities to live in.
5. Consistency - Does this company keep the same look and feel of it’s communications across its website so it’s easy to identify which company the information came from?
This site does a nice job of keeping a consistent look and feel across the entire site. The colors used, fonts and font sizes as well as real estate-related imagery are similar and consistent on each page.
Posted By: Nick Venturella