How to Create a Showstopping Brand – Does Your Brand Steal the Show?

BrandShowStopping

by | Feb 25, 2015 | Marketing & Branding

By now, most of us would agree that “content is King.” Value-based information remains the primary engine for engaging customers and driving sales growth and brand value for your community. As you learned way back in Marketing 101, successful market growth is all about understanding your customers and giving them what they want – and doing it better than your competition, day in and day out. Or, as one of my professors at the Wharton School used to say, “Marketing is simply the engineering of customer satisfaction.”

Content May be King, But…

In a perfect world, generating useful content would be all you would need to focus on – regardless of its form and presentation. However, in an increasingly competitive world where more senior living providers are vying for the mature market dollar and effectively delivering their own content, the “context” of your brand can provide the competitive edge, the “tipping point.”

Among other things, “context” refers to the ambiance, or “vibe,” surrounding your brand. It encompasses the sum total of elements that give your brand a distinct look and feel to your customers. It creates an emotional framework that sets the tone for how your customers perceive the important content that is at the heart of your brand’s value proposition.

This “emotional context” applies to virtually every way in which your brand touches your customers, their families, referral sources and potential donors. For example, the appearance of your website, your promotional materials, the signage in and around your community, your online and traditional advertising, your videos, graphics, images and your logo all add important context to the brand messages (content) you are sending to your target consumers.

Why Your Brand “Look” is Crucial

“Packaging” (i.e. the overall presentation of your brand information) is extremely important today. If you have any doubts about the value of the visual aspects of your brand, look no further than the high-stakes consumer packaged goods industry for affirmation. The impact of a visually appealing, relevant and inspiring brand presentation is why corporate giants such as Procter & Gamble spend millions of dollars each year on consumer research. It explains why they are constantly evaluating how the packaging and visual presentation of their various brands – the colors, images and words – resonate with potential purchasers of their products.       

While senior living providers certainly do not have to worry about shelf space and product location, they do need to be aware of the message that their brand “look” is projecting and how that visual message is being perceived. Because senior living and senior care is all about human emotions and real people – specifically loved ones and their families – instilling a sense of trust, confidence and comfort is essential.  

Ask yourself the following questions about your current brand:

  • Does your website design effectively convey the sense that your community is highly professional and well run?

  • Does it portray your community and your staff as warm, welcoming and caring?

  • Do your graphics, images and other visual elements make your key content stand out and provide appropriate context that is consistent with your operating principles and values?

  • Does your branding promote a vital and vibrant lifestyle for residents?

  • Does your visual presentation bring your brand to life and inspire prospective customers to contact you for more information?

Rachel Fox, Creative Director of SageAge Strategies and leader of SageAge’s award-winning design group, says, “I think a brand is dynamic and is constantly in motion in that we want to consistently move it to the front of the viewers’ minds, constantly reintroducing the client to the community and its value. We also have to keep it fresh, so it’s noticed again and again, yet remain instantly recognizable as the singular brand.”

“We have to be wary of the line between branding and boredom. The brand is the first meeting between the target audience and the community, so it needs to be a natural extension of the community. How the brand looks and feels is how we want the prospect to feel about the community. We say that your website needs to be your “best looking employee”  – so does your overall brand. It conveys instantly, often subconsciously, the essence of the community and what it represents.”

Leveraging the Power of “UX” Design

Today, leading brand development and growth optimization providers such as SageAge Strategies are also using a variety of User Experience or “UX” techniques designed to make consumers’ relationships with senior living brands as easy, pleasant and useful as possible.

UX Design:

  • Connects with consumers on a human emotional level and creates positive feelings about your community.

  • Creates the “curb appeal” and visual connectivity that effectively engages customers with your brand.

  • Simplifies the process of navigating around your website to locate desired information.

  • Highlights content that your customers truly value and provides them with useful information and effective solutions to their problems.

Key Areas Where Visual Context Can Make Your Brand Stand Out

Through the effective use of images, words and various design techniques, the creative arts play an extremely important role in providing the brand look, feel, tone and uniqueness that make you stand out from the crowd. Key areas include:

  • Website design

  • Logo design and tagline/positioning statement development

  • Copywriting/visual storytelling

  • Advertising: traditional and online

  • Social media

  • Direct mail

  • Collateral materials

  • Video

  • Public relations and exhibits

  • Powerpoint and other presentation formats for public seminars and meetings

To see specific examples of how creative design can make your brand more effective, view our brief, 15-slide Webinar,Does Your Creative Speak to Today’s Senior?”.

5 Tips for Finding “Showstopping” Brand Resources

While there are many important puzzle pieces in creating a “WOW” brand (e.g. providing relevant, cost-effective solutions to customers’ problems, optimizing search results with the latest SEO tactics and technologies, and assuring that your brand performance matches your promise) the first introduction to your brand will probably be visual in nature.

For most people today, that first “meeting” with your brand will likely occur when a prospective customer conducts a web search and visits your website. What will they see? What will be their initial reaction? If they don’t like the visual vibe they get, they will move on.

The look and feel of your brand will create a first impression that can strongly influence how they filter and perceive your information. Therefore, if you are looking for additional expertise in creating a brand that will engage, inspire and delight, consider the following criteria for selecting a partner:

  • Evidence of results Ask for tangible examples of how the company has helped clients achieve tangible results.

  • Testimonials and endorsements of clients Ask for the names of several clients you can talk to about their experience with the company.

  • Industry recognition Have they been recognized in the industry for the excellence of their work? Look for examples such as the National Mature Market Media Awards, the Generations Award for Excellence in Marketing to Seniors, The Web Health Awards for online marketing excellence and The Annual Telly Awards, which recognize Outstanding Video Productions.

  • Thought leadership – Do they produce educational articles and conduct Webinars to share their expertise with the senior living profession? Do they also share their knowledge at senior living meetings and conferences?

  • Is their own business growing? Organizations that consistently do excellent work for their clients and receive plaudits in their industry are typically successful and are best positioned for the future.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions on creating a “showstopping brand,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any experiences you’ve had in these areas, whether they have been successful or not. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Proven Branding Expertise to Kickstart Your Growth Strategy

If you are a senior living community considering the need for assistance in building a stand out brand identity, we encourage you to contact us for more information today. SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry and was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 202 / adrienne@sageagestrategies.com.

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