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2 how to differentiate your company - BNBranding

How to differentiate your company (Disruption as a branding discipline)

BNBranding logoThe word for the day is Disruption, with a capital D. That’s the easiest way to differentiate your company from the competition.

Be Disruptive!

Unfortunately, in our society there’s a stigma against all things deemed disruptive.

When I was in elementary school I learned to not be disruptive in class. Or else! Sit still in church and don’t disrupt the service. By the 6th grade it was “don’t cause a scene or call attention to yourself.”

How to differentiate your business - BNBrandingDon’t be different. Be the same.

Write like everyone else. Dress like everyone else. Behave like everyone else and you’ll get along just fine. That’s the message we got, and it’s the message our kids are getting.

Loud and clear.

Maybe that’s why so many business owners and executives flee from the idea of disruption like a fox from a forest fire. It’s ingrained in our society. Most business owners are deathly afraid that some new competitor with “distruptive technology” is going to come along and threaten their turf.

And yet, if you’re trying to differentiate your business it’s disruption that separates the iconic brands from the ho-hum ones.  Disruptive advertising. Disruptive product ideas. Disruptive marketing messages. Disruptive cultures. And even disruptive social media posts.

Jean Marie Dru, Chairman of the advertising conglomerate TBWA, has written two outstanding books about Disruption, but it’s still a hard sell. To most executives disruption is bad. Convention is good. And the results of this mentality are everywhere.

Brand differentiation is hard to come by.

As management guru Tom Peters says, “we live in a sea of similarity.” Social convention and human nature lead us into a trap of conformity where all websites have the same basic layout. All sedans look the same. All airlines feel the same. All travel ads sound the same.

And it works to some degree, because there’s comfort in conformity. (Vanilla still outsells all other flavors of ice cream.)

But in the long run, conformity is the kiss of death for a brand.

Great brands do things that are disruptive. Rather than shying away from the word, the executives embrace the idea of disruption and they make it a part of their everyday operation. They are constantly looking for ways to differentiate their companies, and every new idea is considered productive change that stimulates progress.

But even when they succeed with disruptive products, disruptive technology and disruptive marketing campaigns, it’s tough to sustain.

When Chrysler first launched the Plymouth Voyager the Minivan was a groundbreaking idea that threw the auto industry into total disruption. It was a whole new category, and everyone scrambled to copy the market leader. Within five years, minivans were — you guessed it —  all the same.

There used to be a Television network that was radically disruptive. MTV launched hundreds of music careers and shaped an entire generation, and now where is it? Lost in a sea of mediocre sameness.

When they first burst onto the scene in the 80’s, the idea of a micro brewery was very disruptive. Now, in Oregon, there’s one in every neighborhood and they’re all pretty much the same. Good, but IPAs are everywhere.

Successfully disruptive ideas don’t last because its human nature to copy what works. This process of imitation homogenizes the disruptive idea to the point where it’s no longer different. No longer disruptive.

how to differentiate your company - BNBrandingSo if you want to sustain a competitive advantage and continue to differentiate your company from new upstarts, you have to keep coming up with disruptive ideas. Not just incremental improvement on what’s always worked, but honest-to-goodness newness all the time.

Avatar is a disruptive movie that spawned numerous knock-offs.

The name “Fuzzy Yellow Balls” is brilliantly disruptive in the on-line tennis market.

brand differentiation on the brand insight blogThe American Family Life Assurance Company was utterly forgettable until they changed their name to AFLAC and launched a campaign featuring a quacking duck.

In the insurance business, that’s disruptive!

According to an interview in the Harvard Business Review, AFLAC’s CEO Daniel Amos risked a million dollars on that silly duck campaign.

Amos could have gone with an idea that tested incrementally better than the average insurance commercial, but he didn’t. He took a chance and went with that obnoxious duck. He chose to differentiate his company. He chose disruption over convention, and everyone said he was nuts.

But it turned out to be a radically successful example of brand differentiation.

The first day the duck aired AFLAC had more visits to their website than they had in the entire previous year. Name recognition improved 67% the first year. And most importantly, sales jumped 29%. After three years, sales had doubled.

AFLAC’s success was based on disruption in advertising and naming. But for many companies, there’s also an opportunity to stand out with disruptive strategy. In fact, Dru contends that breakthrough tactics are not enough, and that the strategic stage also demands imagination.

Here’s another good example of how to differentiate your company…

When Apple introduced the iPod, the strategy wasn’t just about superior product design. It was about disrupting the conventions of the music business. It was about introducing the Apple brand to a whole new category of non-users and establishing Apple as the preferred platform for all your personal electronic needs.ipod branding on the brand insight blog

 

Of course Apple also has brilliant, disruptive advertising.

You can get away with mediocre tactics if your strategy is disruptive enough. And vice-versa…  If your advertising execution is disruptive, you can get by with a me-too strategy. But if you want to hit a real home run like Apple did with the ipod, start with a brilliantly disruptive strategy and build on it with a disruptive product and disruptive marketing execution.

It’s kind of ironic… In business, no one wants to cause a disruption, and yet they’re clamoring for good ideas. And good ideas ARE disruptive. They disrupt the way the synapses in the brain work. They break down our stereotypes and disrupt the business-as-usual mentality.

That’s precisely why we remember them.

How to differentiate your company - BNBrandingRichard Branson said, “Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there.”

Steinbeck once said, “It is the nature of man, as he grows old, to protect himself against change, particularly change for the better.”

Ask yourself this: What are you protecting yourself from? What are the conventions of your industry?  Why are are you maintaining the stats quo? What are the habits that are holding you back? Are you copying what’s good, or doing what’s new?

What are you doing to be disruptive?  What are doing to differentiate your company on a dialy basis? Are you really willing to settle for vanilla or are you really committed to brand differentiation?

For more on disruption and how to differentiate your company, try THIS post.

BNBranding's Brand Insight Blog

borrowed interest advertising

Borrowed interest and other lame attempts to attract customers

brand credibility from branding expertsEver notice how some companies are constantly scrambling to attract customers, while others enjoy some sort of magnetic attraction that keeps the customers flowing in?

The scramblers spend a lot of money on digital ads, social media posts and every sort of promotional bribery they can think of.  Their marketing messages are all over the place, and they don’t ever seem to focus on the one thing what really matters to their target audience.

Instead, they borrow interest from somewhere else.

Borrowed interest is a common technique in advertising. I’ve been in those creative sessions where you realize there’s absolutely nothing interesting, different or even mentionable about the client’s product, so you start fishing around for something – anything – that IS interesting that you can borrow from.

It’s redirection… Riding on the coattails of something else to make your ads, emails or posts engaging and memorable.

Instead of pinpointing a really interesting idea that’s firmly rooted in a compelling consumer benefit, you get an idea that is loosely bolted on to the product.

how to attract customers with cute babies and pets

Puppies and babies are the most frequently-used crutches in borrowed-interest advertising. You see it in local TV commercials all the time…

“Hey,  let’s show a baby playing with a cute little puppy on the floor of our auto parts store. That’ll be great!”

It’s not a good idea, and it’s not going to attract customers. Usually it stems from insufficient research or non-existent marketing strategy… Whoever’s doing the ads hasn’t spent enough time to find the story that’s buried in there, somewhere.

I’ve found that if you’re embedded with a company long enough, you can always find a good story that will attract customers. Even if it’s a mediocre, me-too product.

But when you’re lacking that insight, and when there’s nothing inherently interesting about the company’s product or story, you have to borrow from something that IS interesting, and attach your brand to that.

It can be done, if it’s handled wisely.

The key to using borrowed interest successfully is relevance. Whatever idea you’re borrowing from better be relevant to your business category. Otherwise you’re just throwing money away. No one’s going to make the connection.

If you just jump on the bandwagon of an event, idea, celebrity or theme that’s current or trendy, it’s probably not going to work well.

2020 is the year of the pandemic, and a lot of small-business owners seem to think that’s a good thing to “leverage” in their sales pitches.  I’ve seen tons of unsolicited emails, LinkedIn pitches and local, borrowed-interest ads that go something like this…

“In these unprecedented times, blah blah blah… the new normal, blah blah blah… We’re all in this together, blah, blah blah… So this is the perfect time to come in to Frank’s auto parts for a new rear differential.”

attract customers by being honestBorrowing interest from a worldwide pandemic is NOT a good brand strategy. Do you really want to affiliate your brand with death, uncertainty, sickness and social discomfort?

So stop using COVID 19 as an excuse to pitch your company’s products or services. Unless you’re selling masks, or home testing kits, or maybe jigsaw puzzles, don’t use the pandemic as your advertising hook.

Janine Pelosi, Chief Marketing Officer of Zoom, knows better. Even though the pandemic is actually relevant to her brand, they’re NOT running campaigns on the subject.

“When you’re going through a tough situation, when it’s a tough time for humanity, it’s not a time to focus on sales and marketing.” Pelosi said. “Early on we decided to focus on education, and provide resources to schools. We’ve provided free services for more than 100,000 schools in 23 countries.”

Goodwill is better branding than borrowed interest.

The insurance industry is famous for its borrowed interest advertising. The mayhem man, the Geico Gecko, and  the LiMu Emu are all characters conjured up to make an inherently boring category more interesting.

If your service is not differentiated or memorable, your advertising better be.

How Geico attracts customers with borrowed interest advertisingThe Martin Agency has been doing a great job with their advertising for Geico. They’ve had the account for more than 25 years, and they’ve stuck to a winning formula the entire time.

It’s borrowed interest, but they throw in some humor and stick to one “relentlessly consistent” message: “15 minutes could save you 15%.”s

They recently did a very funny spot featuring a nosy neighborhood association lady. If you’ve ever lived in a neighborhood with an HOA you’ll recognize the character immediately. The spot has nothing to do with car insurance, but that’s okay. It’s purposely ridiculous.

It’s like they’re admitting that it’s unrelated, and that’s their schtick. It’s borrowed interest with a wink and a nod.

The problem is, people love the commercial but can’t name the brand that goes with it. That’s borrowed interest for you.

Geiko can get away with that, because they have a media budget of a billion dollars. Literally. If you don’t get it the first time, you’ll get it the 100th time.

But most businesses can’t afford that much repetition — or advertising that’s completely unrelated to their product or service.

Instead of borrowing an advertising hook, and hoping that a distracted, ill-infomed public will “get it,” why not dig for a story that’s actually relevant to your customer’s feelings and needs? That’s how you differentiate yourself and attract customers.

Do the research.  Spend time in the field. Listen, listen and listen some more for that one little nugget of insight that can become the hook of your brand narrative.

Or better yet, build the advertising hook right into your product or service. That’s the easiest way to attract customers.. develop a product or service that has the marketing baked in.

Seth Godin calls it a Purple Cow. Something genuinely unique enough to get everyone talking about it.

In almost every market category, the boring slot is already filled. So you have two choices; you can be one of those scramblers, who run borrowed-interest ads in an effort to compete in the boring space, or you can break out by building a product or service that naturally attracts customers.

In the case of video conferencing, the boring slot was filled by Skype. That was the big, leading brand. Then Microsoft acquired it, and fell asleep at the wheel.

Classic opportunity for a start-up. Perfect opening for an underdog brand.

Zoom’s platform was designed specifically to make video calls work well in low bandwidth situations, which gave them a buzz-worthy product long before COVID 19 hit. That was their purple cow.

Plus, Zoom invested heavily in traditional advertising in the past few years. Their visibility on billboards, in airports, on the radio and at sporting events positioned them for success when shit hit the fan.

Microsoft-owned Skype, on the other hand, was not on the radar.  The minute the press started writing about the work-from-home phenomenon, it was Zoom, not Skype, that got all the attention.

According to Wired magazine Skype will disappear completely by 2021, replaced by Microsoft Teams. I’m betting that Microsoft’s agency will spend many billions on borrowed-interest trying to attract customers for that one.

If you’re struggling to attract customers, and need some help finding your one true story, give us a call.  Try this post if you want more on how to make your advertising more effective. 

a new approach to website design BNBranding

 

 

The new normal in e-commerce — How to sell more stuff online.

brand credibility from branding expertsThe COVID 19 pandemic has created a frenzy of activity in the e-commerce industry. One of my CPG clients saw a 550% increase in online sales – until they ran into supply chain issues and had to post “out of stock” on every item. The new normal for e-commerce is going to be huge.

The lockdown has created “Cyber Monday” levels of volume for three consecutive months. And even after we’re able to return to the malls, online sales will never go back down to pre-COVID levels. Every e-commerce site from Amazon to Aunt Matilda’s Potato Mashers will enjoy a piece of the online buying frenzy.

Last year, e-commerce sales in the U.S. rose 14% to $569 billion. This year’s growth could be as high as 50% in many categories. But most e-commerce businesses could get a bigger piece of the growing pie, if only they’d do something — anything — to differentiate themselves from pack.

A good place to start is with your target audience.

Besides a ridiculously low price, what do online shoppers want?

Most are looking for insight on a specific product category. Before they fill their online shopping cart they need more information. So they hunt and click for real stories about how your product might fit into their lives. They look for facts, reviews, videos, articles or any kind of credible content that helps them narrow their search.

But amazingly few e-commerce brands deliver any content at all that could be called useful or differentiating.

If you want to establish a successful e-commerce brand you have to do more than just copy your competitors. You can’t just cut and paste the same exact manufacturer’s blurb, the same photo and the same specs and expect more market share than anyone else. You have to differentiate your online store. Somehow…

You could offer a unique product mix.

Choose one main thing BNBrandingMost niched e-commerce sites offer the exact same products as their competitors. So maybe your new normal in ecommerce is a product mix that’s more carefully curated or even more niched.

You’ll never be able to compete with Amazon on breadth of offerings, so you might as well specialize.

But even if you could find something that your competitors don’t have, it’s not a sustainable advantage unless you have an exclusive arrangement with the manufacturer.

You could offer lower pricing.

One thing’s for sure, the new normal in e-commerce is going to involve a lot more competition. Drop-ship companies are springing up everywhere, and many of the new players will get caught in a race to the bottom when it comes to pricing.

Do you really want to be positioned as a low-price leader? Do you want to compete with WalMart.com? Is that really “on brand” for you, or are you more interested in providing quality products with good overall value?

Or you can have better content presented in your own, unique voice. That, you can do!

Even if you have basically the same product mix at the same price as your competition, you CAN differentiate yourself. All you have to do is customize your product pitches, improve your copy, and mix up the words a bit.

If you’re not doin that you’re not really an e-commerce retailer, you’re just a virtual warehouse.  Retailing, by definition, means selling, merchandising, and packaging up other people’s products into a unique buying environment. Brand building, by definition, means building loyalty and lots of repeat business.

Brick and mortar retailers like Nordstrom know all about that.

And let me tell you about another category of companies that applied wise retail thinking to a new delivery system.

Early in my career I wrote copy for Norm Thompson. Back then, in the days of J Peterman and Montgomery Ward,  there was a lot of competition among catalog companies. But Norm Thompson offered a highly differentiated buying experience.

We offered the best guarantee in the business, a meticulously curated collection of high-quality, high-margin products, and a unique tone of voice that resonated with Norm Thompson’s mature, upscale audience.

We wrote long, intelligent copy that told a story of both functionality and fashion. When the product called for a technical approach, we’d get technical… I remember writing a full page spread on the optics of Serengetti Driver sunglasses.

On other occasions it was pure fashion. We’d turn on the charm and use prose that harkened back to more chivalrous times.

The brand was Helpful. Heroic. Practical. Luxurious. Comfortable.

These weren’t just adjectives thrown in to boost our word count. They were themes on which we built compelling, product-driven stories.

The long narratives explained why the product felt so luxurious. Where the innovation came from. How a feature worked. And most importantly, what it all meant to the Norm Thompson customer.

It was the voice of the brand, and guess what? It worked. The conversion rates and sales-to-page ratios of the Norm Thompson catalog were among the highest in the industry. We routinely got 30% response rates on our direct mailings.

It’s tough to find anything remotely close in the on-line world. And unfortunately, Norm Thompson hasn’t maintained that unique voice in the e-commerce arena.

Here’s the new normal in e-commerce… More and more high dollar, high involvement purchases will be made online. And the role of the well-informed retail sales person is falling on the shoulders of the e-commerce entrepreneur.

Take ski boots, for example. Ski boots don’t exactly fit into the category of top on-line sellers. They aren’t impulse items that you need on a weekly basis. They’re heavy to ship. Most people prefer to try them on before buying. And returns on ski boots are quite common.

But on-line retailers could dramatically reduce returns simply by  explaining the single most important thing:

Fit.

No technical feature is as important as fit, and yet no website that I’ve found provides the simple problem-solving content that says: If you have peasant feet, try this make and model. If you have a high instep, try these. If you have a narrow foot, try these. If you have big calves, try these.

I were a ski boot retailer I’d focus on the pain ski boots can inflict: Toenails blackened and torn. Crippling leg cramps. Wasted $150 lift tickets. Ruined vacations. Endless trips back to the boot fitter.

Those are the honest-to-goodness repercussions of getting the wrong fit. That’s the stuff of compelling sales copy. Not bullets from the manufacturer’s spec sheet.

But not a single online ski shop capitalizes on those emotional hooks. They’re all just lined up, offering the same brands at the same prices with the same mundane sales pitch.

After hours of online research I know a lot more about boot fitting, but I don’t know which models are most likely to fit my feet. In fact, I’ve been to every online ski shop I could find, and only one – REI – provides anything more than just the manufacturer’s stock product spiel.

That’s what separates the best e-commerce stores; A higher degree of expertise. Better salesmanship. And a brand that means something beyond just making a quick online sale.

In 2019 Norm Thompson’s parent company announced that they would be “exiting the brand.” It’s too bad… the company that started in 1949 selling flies to avid fly fisherman and morphed into one of the leading catalog companies couldn’t make it in this new world of e-commerce.

But before they started losing money, they lost their focus on wealthy baby boomers. They lost their unique tone of voice. They lost their differentiating personality. They lost the soul of the brand after multiple buy-outs.

So that’s the new normal in e-commerce.  Even though business is booming, the brands that lose focus will fail. Cars, appliances and many other big ticket items are now routinely purchased with just a click of the mouse, but that doesn’t guarantee success.

So here’s the question for all e-commerce entrepreneurs: What are you doing to make the buying experience better for your customers?

What are you saying that’s different than what your competitors say?

What information are you providing that’ll improve your credibility and set yourself apart?

What features do you offer on your site that’ll guide customers through the research and make purchase process easier?

What does your online store really say about the potential longevity of your brand?

Are you running a nameless online store, or building an e-commerce brand?

If you’re hard pressed for answers, give us a call. We can help.

 

a new approach to website design BNBranding

Advertising in a crisis: Shit happens, but brands endure.

brand credibility from branding expertsEvery entrepreneur experiences setbacks… Markets crash. Key team members leave with your biggest accounts. There are supply-chain snaffus, natural disasters, and now, a novel virus that slams the door on a robust economy. It’s hard to know what to do when you’re advertising in a crisis, but this is when your branding efforts can really pay off.

All the work you’ve done over the years to stay visible and be a responsible, authentic brand will pay off in spades when times are tough.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that a nicely designed logo is going to make you magically immune from the business fallout of the Corona virus. (Logo is NOT synonymous with Brand and everyone will be affected)

brand credibilityI’m just saying that iconic brands are going to be more insulated — and more likely to survive — than the companies that haven’t been paying attention to branding.

This is a time of unprecedented uncertainty, and when people are unsure, scared or threatened, they want to be comforted.

It’s human nature.

We cling to what’s familiar, and we want an escape from the UNknown. We narrow our choices dramatically and don’t entertain new options. We buy Campbell’s soup and make grilled cheese sandwiches. We re-watch lighthearted TV shows from by-gone days to make ourselves feel grounded. Better.

So being known — ie. maintaining top of mind awareness during good times — is crucial in this situation. The best brands know this, and maintain a presence all the time. In good times and bad. They don’t wait for disaster to strike, they’re communicating with people all along. That’s what breeds fondness and familiarity,

If you’ve been invisible in your market you need to be very careful about launching a knee-jerk reaction ad campaign right now. Especially if your ads start with “now, more than ever…”

Now, more than ever, you need a new Kia.
Now, more than ever, you need to refinance your house.
Now, more than ever, you need a financial planner.
Now, more than ever, you need a lot of Kirkland brand toilet paper.

We saw thousands of fill-in-the-blank ads like that during the crash of 2009, and the same thing’s beginning to pop up on social media, in email campaigns, and on the airwaves. Cliches like that are NOT going to help your brand. They just add to the clutter and fuel the fear. So if you are going to run advertising during a crisis, it better be a complete departure from that.

So this is a good time to step back and re-evaluate the tone, content and context of your brand messages.

Advertising during a crisis should not be business as usual. It makes for bad optics.

Take Kia for instance, the automotive king of “yell and sell” advertising. They’ve established clear leadership in top-of-mind awareness, but it would probably be wise for them to stop running their current advertising that screams “Credit, come and get it.” “Credit, come and get it.””Credit, come and get it.”

More debt is the LAST thing people need right now. Sometimes the best ad strategy is knowing when to shut up!

It’s almost as bad as running TV spots for a “fire sale” when there are forest fires burning all over the West. It sounds dreadfully callous, given the current state of affairs. (I wonder who decided that predatory lending practices should be a key brand attribute for Kia, but that’s another issue entirely.)

Any advertising that attempts to capitalize on the world’s misfortune will be seen for what it is: Cheap profiteering. If you’re not careful, the public will forever associate your brand with the outbreak of 2020 and will never buy into any messaging you attempt in the future.

But when it’s done well, advertising during these “slow” times can help you reach more people and solidify relationships. Media consumption is up, while most companies are pulling back, ducking the exposure.

So if your message is human, heartfelt and kind you have a real opportunity to differentiate yourself. (And ad rates are lower than normal!)

But you can’t pull a Kia-style hard sell. In fact, you shouldn’t sell at all. This is not the time to persuade, it’s the time to reassure without asking for anything in return. Just stay aligned with your brand brand values and communicate what’s important, right now.

This is new territory…  even the most hardened business veterans haven’t faced anything quite like this. It’s going to leave a mark on us all, if not a festering wound.

So I’m not going to serve up platitudes like “It’s going to be okay” or “This too shall pass.” I’m sure as hell not going to say you need more advertising during a crisis or “now more than ever you need a branding firm.”

But I will share one of my favorite sayings… it’s an old Japanese proverb:

“Action is the antidote for despair.”

Do something. But stay safe.

If you don’t know how to proceed and would like some advice, even for the short term, give me a call. We can do a quick assessment and help you devise a smart response to all the mayhem.

BN Branding's Brand Insight Blog

 

 

 

About

Smiles make sales. Disarm them with optimism, and build on a friendly platform of genuine passion.

 

Here's what we're all about:

With BNBranding you’ll sell more, grow faster, and prosper like never before. We can help in three three essential areas:

Strategic Branding. First we help uncover the DNA of your brand. Then we develop an honest, relevant brand strategy that drives all the rest of our services. It’s creative work based on a disciplined branding process.

Advertising. Once the brand strategy is set and the story is mapped out, you need an ad agency to execute the strategy in creative new ways. You’ll get an award-winning ad agency that can help you produce all forms forms of advertising, from print and TV to websites and digital advertising. Portfolio

Marketing management. We can help you navigate the complex landscape of modern marketing by aligning all the pieces and providing exceptional client services.

We’re here to help you succeed. Simple as that. Nothing gets us more fired up than seeing our clients achieve their dreams.

BN Branding

Here's who we are:

John Furgurson, CEO/ Creative Director

John Furgurson branding expert bend oregon ad agency ownerJohn’s been called an anomaly… A creative guy with a penchant for business. A poetic entrepreneur.

He can devise an insightful strategy in the morning, and craft award-winning ad copy over lunch. It’s a left-brain, right-brain one-two punch that few marketing executives offer.

John cut his teeth writing direct response ads — where sales were the only litmus test of success. From there, he worked for several Portland-area ad agencies on a vast array of print and radio campaigns.

John also did a stint in the video industry where he wrote scripts and helped produce long-format videos and direct-response TV for big brands such as HP, Tektronix and WearEver.

John Furgurson CEO of bend oregon advertising agencyEventually, John moved to Bend, Oregon to raise his kids and strike that delicate balance between work and play.

His first Bend ad agency was named AdWords, which worked out well until Google decided they really, really wanted that URL So he took their offer and rebranded the firm in 2004.

Learn more about John’s origin story and his rebranding effort.

BNBranding has touched many of Oregon’s most iconic brands, such as Black Butte Ranch, Sunriver Resort, and Bend itself. John and his team have helped plan, manage and execute marketing programs for companies across the U.S. and Canada.

John shares his expertise regularly on the Brand Insight Blog, which he’s been writing since 2007. Find John Furgurson on LinkedIn:

 

Mattie Limon, Accounts and Business Manager

We need Mattie like an orchestra needs a conductor.

Mattie is the master of client services and precise project management. Under Mattie’s watchful eye, our operation sings along in relative harmony… Our creative teams can operate way more effectively and our clients aren’t ambushed with surprises. Mattie’s good-natured approach keeps everyone on task, including freelancers, vendors and, yes, even the CEO. It’s a win-win.

Mattie was born in Mexico, and grew up in Portland. She’s spearheading BN Branding’s Hispanic marketing initiatives. Her experience includes managing a variety of small businesses, for both herself and for others.

Connect with Mattie on LinkedIn

 

 

 

Elissa Davis, Art Director/Designer

Elissa Davis bend Oregon ad agency art directorIn this day and age, inspired design often takes a back seat to the bells and whistles of modern technology. Too bad.

We believe subtle, aesthetic considerations have a pronounced affect on your brand and your overall business. That’s why Elissa’s been a key team member at BN Branding since 2005.

Elissa has the uncanny ability to absorb brand strategies and translate them into gorgeous, relevant design work.

Over the years, she’s been the design talent behind many award-winning brands, like the playfully random eBay logo, for instance, and the brilliantly simple Malibu Country Club brand identity.

Elissa’s talents extend far beyond logos, into print and web design as well. And she sweats every detail. From the psychological effects of a color change to the usability implications of a specific website font, she works with the precision and care of a true craftsman and artist.

 

 

Erik Zetterberg, Web developer

EZ head shot for websiteErik’s our web master/programmer/technology consultant. Here’s how it usually goes with Erik…

We approach him with our initial concepts for a website or a digital advertising campaign. He tells us it can’t be done. No way. Then we go back and forth arguing the merits of the idea vs. the realities of HTML programming. (We’ll spare you the details on that.)

Eventually Erik goes deep down into some technological rabbit hole, and we don’t hear from him for a couple days. But he always emerges with a workable solution. Every time.

The results are stunning… Websites that look as good as they perform. Web-generated leads that actually lead to something. With Erik’s help you get higher conversion rates and analytics that your CFO will love. It’s better with Zetter. Berg.

 

Raise your right hand. Find your truth. Use it as a competitive advantage.

Here's what we believe:

Successful brands have meaning beyond money. They’re built on a solid belief system of authentic values that attract like-minded people.

As a Bend ad agency, BNBranding is built on these core beliefs:

We believe that creativity is the ultimate business weapon. Inspired, innovative thinking is behind every great brand, from Apple to Zappos. We also believe that it’s hard to be creative when you’re up to your neck in day-to-day operations. Most business owners need a spark from the outside.

We believe that strategy is a creative exercise. Strategy drives the execution that produces results. If you have a me-too strategy, no amount of creative trickeration is going to produce the outcome you’re looking for. Creative strategy plus creative execution is a formidable combination.

BNBranding bend oregon ad agency branding process

We believe that process matters. This is a service business, so how we work is often just as important as what we produce. For us, it’s Insight first, then Execution. Every time. It’s a branding process designed specifically to produce maximum results with minimal headaches.

We believe that every company needs a seasoned marketing generalist. A generalist can help you navigate the entire marketing landscape and make sure you’re maximizing every marketing tactic you can afford. Something you’ll never get from a digital ad agency.

We believe in the persuasive power of disruptive words. Fact: The human brain automatically screens out the normal, mundane language of most business pitches. It’s in one ear, and out the other. Creative, well-crafted messages, on the other hand, fire the synapses and trigger an emotional response. Here’s an example of great messaging from a Bend Ad Agency.

We believe that emotion trumps logic every time. Research it yourself… the latest brain science proves that people make emotional purchases, then use reason to justify the decision. No great brand has ever been built on reason alone. Not one. In branding, it’s what they feel, not what they think.

We believe the marketing mix is more important than ever. The marketing landscape is evolving quickly. Social media provides exciting new ways to tell stories and make connections, but you still need a healthy mix of marketing tactics. Some high tech, some high touch. Some old school, some new school.

We believe in the glory of a good story. Every great business has an engaging story to tell. So tell it! Hire an ad agency that can help you find creative new ways to spin that tale… in ads, on your website, in presentations, tweets and Facebook posts.Bend, Oregon Advertising Agency

We believe in skeptical optimism. As creative thinkers we’re naturally skeptical, but not in a pessimistic way. We question the status quo in order to move your business upward. Tell us that something can’t be done, that it’s too hard, or too “out there” and we’ll be positively skeptical about that.

We believe Design belongs in business school. Tom Peters calls it “the soul of new enterprise.”  It’s Design that differentiates the world’s most valuable brand – Apple.  It’s Design that made Nest a billion dollar brand. Design evokes passion, emotion and attachment… all required elements of great brands.

We believe in the art of persuasion. Data is a big deal these days. But effective marketing communications still comes down to saying the right thing, and saying it well. That’s what a good ad agency brings to the table… A brilliantly crafted combination of words and images that can move the needle. Here’s a relevant case study.

 We believe in the power of collaboration. Ad agencies can be pretty possessive when it comes to creative work. But great ideas can come from anywhere. We don’t have a corner on that market, so we collaborate with you to uncover ideas and insight that we may never have thought of. Then we take that ball and run with it.

BN Branding

Here's where we choose to work:

Yep, it’s a Bend ad agency, but we serve clients from all over.

The come from Toronto and Detroit. They come from Florida, California and even Costa Rica.  The fresh air, the beauty and the outdoor action in Bend is a mecca for creativity. It’s the juice that keeps the ideas — and the clients — coming.

Won’t you join us? We can arrange a rejuvenating, brand-building business trip that will inspire you – and tire you.

Bend Oregon branding company



 

BNBranding how to choose the right message for your ads

New word, old idea — The definition of content marketing

BNBranding logo“Content” is a sizzling buzzword in the marketing world these days. There are all sorts of specialists peddling different versions of content. “Content is King, Content is King,” they all scream.

Everyday I get multiple offers to provide content for this blog, and for my firm’s website, and for my clients’ websites. I hear from content marketing agencies, off-shore content factories, content producers, content designers, video content producers, social media content specialists and content journalists. Every one offers “expertise in my niche” and “professional” writers and producers.

Not one has ever actually panned out.

I’m not alone.  A recent survey from Forrester Research shows that 87% of all companies are struggling to find content that produces a discernible ROI. Companies are churning stuff out, but they’re not content with their content.

And here’s the ironic part… when you ask web development companies about their biggest daily frustration, without fail they all say “it’s really hard to get our clients to provide good content in a timely manner.”

The clients are waiting for the web guys to provide content, and the web guys are waiting for the clients.

Hmmmm. What’s wrong with that picture?

Part of the problem might be the term itself. It’s like the term “marketing”… no two people can agree on what it really includes. Some people think content refers only to copywriting for websites. Others say it’s infographics, or blogging, or video. Gotta have video!

They’re all right. It’s all “content.”

Content, the noun, is nothing new. 200 years ago marketing content appeared in the form of printed hand bills hung up in the local tavern or town square. Then there were newspapers, and magazines and the advent of paid advertising and editorial placed by publicists but written by journalists.

Radio brought sponsorships, jingles and professionally produced commercials. Many great brands were launched on that platform of “theater of the mind.”

In the late 1940’s TV became the original form of video content. At the same time, billboards started popping up, and in the 60’s, direct mail became a highly effective tool for marketers.

So content’s been around forever. It’s just the form and the delivery methods that have changed.

BNBranding long copy is more convincingThere are many more options now, and a totally new vernacular, but the crux of it is the same as always … It’s all designed to forge a connection with consumers. So when it’s time to buy, they are already convinced.

Seth Godin’s widely quoted as saying “Content marketing is all that’s left.” Well, I guess that’s true, in a sense, because content marketing is all there’s ever been.

Teaching prospective customers and giving them reasons to believe has always been the heart of marketing. But now it’s easy to go deeper than we could with Radio, TV, print or outdoor advertising.

The media mix is more fragmented than ever, so the exercise is twofold:

  1. Create content that resonates with your people. Make it relevant, regardless of the medium.
  2. Find the media outlets for that content that best fit your target audience and brand strategy.

If you want to be mindful and authentic about the content you use, you have to start with a deep dive into your business strategy. That’s probably why so many companies are unhappy with their content marketing efforts… there wasn’t any strategic thinking behind it. At all.

It’s usually just a purely tactical exercise.

Strategy work is the single most important component of your content marketing effort.

It’s the only way you’ll know what to say.

The fact is, every company has a lot of stuff they could say. But those messages may not be relevant to the audience, or they might not be differentiated from your competitor’s messages or they not be true to the operational realities of your business. There are a hundred things that could sabotage your content.

You’d be surprised how many companies are out producing content trying to “increase engagement” without even having their value proposition nailed down. So when you do that strategic work, you’ll immediately be ahead of the pack.

a new approach to website design BNBrandingOnce you’ve determined what to say, you also have to be creative in how you say it. That’s the execution piece.

When it comes to content, the right words matter. Concepts, themes and fundamental storylines matter. Images matter. Details matter. Guts matter. Restraint matters.

Many companies try to say too much, all the time. They pack their communications full of technical details that don’t enlighten or connect. They mistake facts and data for effective communications. They post ten times a day, just to say they did.  It’s a quantity over quality mentality.

You can’t just take a facebook post and turn it into a digital ad and expect it to perform well. Your content needs to be crafted to match both the target audience and the medium.

Make no mistake about it… no matter what kind of content you’re producing, precise word smithing and stunning visuals can mean the difference between failure and success.

In content marketing (and all marketing for that matter) what you show is just as important as what you say.

Part of the strategic work is determining what imagery should be attached to your brand. Here are some good questions to ponder:

Does your brand have its own, unique visual presence, or are you recycling the same stock images and selfies that every other company is using?

Would your social media person know if an Instagram post was completely “off brand?”

What’s the takeaway for people who don’t read a word of what you put out there? If you are seen but not heard.

If you have a food product, does your content look like something from Gourmet magazine or a tattered menu from a cheap Chinese place?

Once you’ve determined your brand visuals it’ll be much easier to define the type of images you want to pair with written content. There will be clear marching orders, and boundaries that will keep everything in alignment.

Long before”content marketing” was ever a thing, I was preaching about Relevance, Differentiation and Credibility.  Low and behold, the new model for content marketing fits perfectly with that tried and true model.

Try this post for more on content marketing.

a new approach to website design BNBranding

 

 

 

 

 

Clients

Case studies from some of our recent clients…

Branding in the natural foods industry

Client: Leslie’s Organics — Petaluma, CA

 

Brand: Coconut Secret

 

Initial Assignment: Update an old, outdated website.

 

Solution: Launch an ecommerce operation and turn the website into a profit center.

 

Leslie Caren was drawn to BNBranding through the Brand Insight Blog.

“When I read John’s article on the yin and yang of marketing, I just had to connect with him,” Leslie said. “I knew we needed to update our website, but John and his team ended up delivering much more than that.”

It was a classic case of delivering what’s best for the client, rather than what the client thought she needed.

Coconut Secret did not have its own ecommerce store, and we would have been doing her a disservice by not proposing that. So it wasn’t a case of migrating old content onto a new website, they needed a whole new approach to their online branding.

“They really went above and beyond, with a new tagline, new photography, new shipping methods and a whole new way of doing business.,” Leslie said. “I never dreamed we’d have this type of online store. Their service has been tremendous.”

 
BN Branding

 

 

Golf Industry Marketing

Client: GNL Golf — Lady Lake, FL

 

Initial Assignment: Rebrand the Golf Institute and create the company’s first website

 

Solution: Build a new business model that turns the sales pitch into a money-making educational service.

 

John Ford has been a client since 2006. We started with brand strategy, a value proposition and brand identity, then continued with a website, point-of-purchase advertising, direct response and print advertising. He’s one tough customer.

“Marketing is kind of an obsession of mine,” Ford said. “I’ve studied it. I’ve read tons of books. And I worked with big-name advertising guys all across the country, but I keep going back to this little Bend advertising agency.”

“They have a process that I like, and they always deliver what they say they’re going to. And damn… some of the advertising they’ve done for me is just brilliant. We have more leads and a better sales process than we’ve ever had before. We’re killing it with our putting clinics.” Read more about the GNL case study here.

 

 

BN Branding

 

Marketing in the natural foods industry

Client: Azure Standard — The Dalles, OR

 

Initial Assignment: Increase ad revenues in the company’s quarterly catalog.

 

Solution: Revamp the publication, launch a content marketing effort, and build industry goodwill.

 

Results:  Increased advertising revenues 10x in just 12 months.

 

Azure Standard is a national distributor of natural foods and organic products. We devised the Azure Indie Partner Program that targeted Azure’s vendors, industry partners and potential vendors in order to build the Azure brand from the inside.

“Sometimes the best branding projects aren’t focused on end customers,” said Debbie Pantenburg, CMO at Azure.

“What John created was a strategically brilliant concept that transformed Azure’s position in the industry. He connected suppliers, team members and customers in a common cause. The idea went right to our core values, and helped define a business model that differentiates Azure from the competition.”

“John was a key partner on the marketing team. He was also instrumental in the launch of our content marketing effort and advertising.”

 
BN Branding

 

 

Real Estate advertising and branding

Client: Morris Hayden — Bend, OR

 

Initial Assignment: Naming, brand identity and website design

 

Results: Successfully launched a new brand in a highly crowded market

 

Morris Hayden is a property management company and real estate brokerage in Bend, Oregon. We created this brand identity for them and built a highly functional website that differentiates them at a glance.

“Bend is overrun by realtors, investors and property management companies, so it’s tough to stand out,” said Erika Morris, owner of Morris Hayden.

“There are also a lot of companies that specialize in websites for realtors, but those sites all look the same. That wasn’t going to cut it for us,” Morris said. “We needed the site to be just as functional as all the rest, with the MLS listings and all that, plus it had to look different.

“The idea of Rosey the Riveter was perfect for us. We get compliments on that site all the time. It’s an integral part of our business.”

 

BN Branding

 

Branding and advertising in the software industry

Client: SaleFish Software — Toronto, CA

 

Initial Assignment: Build a new website

 

Solution: Rebrand the company with a new identity, new value proposition, new website, new sales materials and digital marketing.

 

Results:  Stay tuned…

 

We talked with Rick Haws for two years before he decided to pull the trigger on a new website. His company’s one of the entrenched leaders in the proptech arena, and he needed some help taking SaleFish to the next level.  In order to go global he knew he needed a better web presence. But he also needed a whole new way of looking at his value proposition.

“John was very thorough, in his process, and he determined that we needed to change the way we sold our software,” Haws said. “In a nutshell… We quit selling the nitty-gritty features, and started focusing on the outcomes that we achieve for our clients.  And the response was immediately positive.”

The BNBranding team devised all new messaging, a new brand identity, new website and new collateral materials. Work is ongoing on an animated explainer video, info graphics and digital marketing to drive traffic to the new site.

“I’m very, very happy with the new branding. It’s all coming together fabulously,” Haws said.

 
BN Branding

 

 

Bend, Oregon advertising agency software industry case study

 

Client: Black Butte Ranch

 

Assignment: Brand re-fresh, advertising, resort signage, collateral, direct mail.

 

Results: A record number of heads in beds

 

We literally wrote the book on the Black Butte Ranch Brand. We also ran a ground-breaking radio ad campaign, devised seasonal promotions and produced new signage throughout the resort.

“When I was at Black Butte Ranch  BNBranding was our advertising agency of record. They started out by doing the research and writing the book on the Black Butte brand. Then they refreshed our brand identity, produced new signage throughout the resort, and did some great advertising for us. Their work put heads in beds and helped us increase our golf revenues.”

“I think the radio campaign that John did for us was some of the best radio work I’ve ever heard. It was “out there” for Black Butte and yet it was right on brand. The story telling, the script writing, the choice of talent… it was amazing.”

 

BN Branding

 

 

 

Branding a Non-Profit Organization

Client: Working Wonders Children’s Museum

 

Assignment: Launch a new non-profit brand from the ground up… Naming, identity design, advertising

 

Results:

Launching a start-up is hard. Launching a start-up non-profit organization is even harder.

BNBranding was the advertising agency that helped build Working Wonders Children’s Museum from the ground up. We devised the name, tagline and brand identity, helped with fundraising and board development, wrote their mission statement and acted as the museum’s ad agency. We even helped create and build the playful, hands-on spaces in the museum itself. It was a labor of love.

 
BN Branding

 

 

Marketing to Restaurant Owners

Client: The Where To Eat Guide — Bend, OR

 

Initial Assignment: Create sales materials and a pitch deck

 

Solution: An integrated, in-your-face campaign that opened up two new markets.

 

The owner of The Where-To-Eat-Guide wasn’t afraid to offend restaurant owners. He hit them right between the eyes with ads, email, direct mail and printed sales materials that helped him expand his publishing business from Bend, to Portland, to Seattle and eventually Napa.

“I didn’t think I needed a branding firm,” said John Herbik. “I figured I could do a lot of it myself, with just some freelancers. But I need to thank John for his insight on branding and marketing. The stuff he did really got attention and opened a lot of doors for my sales people.”

 

BN Branding

examples of copywriting from BNBranding

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's what they say about us:

 

“As a CFO, I’m pretty leery of branding firms. Most of them just end up costing the company a lot of money, without any measurable results. But John Furgurson has a good head for business and he grasps the importance of results. His batting average is very good. Plus, he looks for ways to save money, not just spend it. I wish we would have spent more with BN Branding, and less with the other firms we’ve hired.”

Carl Rigney

CFO and franchise owner
 

“From a branding standpoint, we were pretty well lost before we hired BN Branding. They’ve helped us organize our product lines, create a comprehensive brand strategy, and design two fantastic brands. It’s been a great combination of strategic consulting and creative design… I’ve been very impressed.”

Dan Corrigan

Organic 3
 

“As an interior designer I really appreciate the art and craftsmanship of the work they do at BN Branding. Their design work is meticulous and very well thought out. John Furgurson is the consummate professional… always delivers what he says he’s going to deliver. They did my website and some very nice printed sales materials. It’s first rate. I would definitely recommend them.”

Lisa Slayman

Slayman Cinema
 

“My “aha” moment with BN Branding was truly remarkable.  They helped me recognize a far broader application for my product.  They also went above and beyond with their namestorming process and came up with Kittigan Crossboats. My relatively small, early investment with BN Branding was immensely worthwhile.  John is a skilled strategist with some mad creative skills. “

Michael Grant

Kitigan CrossCanoes
 

“We didn’t think we needed an ad agency, but when we found BN Branding, our website was in a state of emergency. They took great interest in our products and took the time to get familiar with our business model and our clientele. John came up with the new name and logo. And when the site was finished and launched, our selling proposition was much more clear, which led to more online sales without the “pre-call”.  I would recommend BNBranding to anyone looking for any marketing.”

Scott Beydler

Beydler CNC
 

BN Branding News

Big things happening for our client in the proptech software industry.

July 16, 2019

SaleFish Software is a SAAS company out of Toronto that serves residential real estate developers. Rick Haws, SaleFish CEO, hired BN Branding initially to do a new website. However, as the research & discovery work progressed we determined that SaleFish needed to rebrand itself in order to achieve the goals that Rick set out.

The scope of work has progressed from a simple website refresh to a new brand identity, collateral materials, video production, content marketing and digital advertising.

“I’m very happy with the new branding,” Haws said. “It came together perfectly… with the new logo and the new site, and some new sales materials… now we’re poised to expand our global reach.”

 

Bend branding firm redesigns GutPro packaging

Jan 2, 2019

Organic 3 Inc., makers of Gut Pro probiotics and owner of Corganic Ecommerce has hired BN Branding to design a new brand identity and packaging for their GutPro line of probiotics and enzymes.

 

 

Bend, Oregon advertising agency BN Branding chosen to help launch a new health benefits company in California.

Nov 15, 2018

Bend, Oregon branding firmIncentive Health of Bakersfield, California has hired BN Branding to help them stir things up in the health benefits arena. The Bend, Oregon branding firm is working on a brand strategy, go-to-market plan, website, sales materials and a tactical marketing plan for the new company.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to help create a disruptive new brand, from the ground up,” said John Furgurson, owner of BNBranding. “We’re going to change the way CEOs look at health benefits. It’s exciting.”

Until now, CEOs have faced a difficult decision when doing their annual review of health benefits.

“It’s always been a trade off,” Furgurson said. “They had to choose between their people and their profits. It’s a no-win. But now there’s an alternative to that.”

 
 

BNBranding launches new website and ecommerce store for Coconut Secret

Aug, 2018

BNBranding website for Coconut SecretWe’re proud to be working Leslie’s Organics, makers of the Coconut Secret Brand of natural foods. Leslie and Randy chose BN Branding to launch an ecommerce website and provide tactical marketing assistance.

Coconut Aminos is the nation’s #1 selling brand of soy-free Asian condiments. They also have a delicious line of candy bars, chocolate bars and granola bars, all sweetened with coconut nectar. So we’re getting some tasty photography for that. (Thanks to Mike Houska, at Dogleg Studios.)

www.coconutsecret.com

 

Read more news »

Some of the brands we’ve helped over the years…

Brand identity design by BNBranding


Black Butte Ranch brand identity design by BNBranding


Coconut Secret logotype and tagline by BNBranding

Print advertising for Desert Orthopedics by BNBranding




client list of BNBranding

advertising and content marketing for Azure Standard

BNBranding client list

Advertising for Bend Cable - now BendBroadband

Broken Top brand identity by BNBranding

Advertising for COPA in Bend, Oregon

trade advertising for Clif Bar

golf industry branding by BNBranding


new approach to website design

Brand design with a bang – Visual cues and consistency across platforms

BNBranding logoA lot of people ask me about our brand design and the graphics that accompany these blog posts.

They see the same visual cues on the BNBranding website, in social media posts, in our ads, on video and even on good, old-fashioned post cards, emails and invoices.

brand design that produces resultsThey comment about the work on LinkedIn and, yes, they respond to it. Some people have even said, “Wow, that’s really cool. Can you do something like that for my company?”

Of course.

Because the fact is, bold graphics such as these stop people in their tracks. It’s brand design that produces response.

It’s like direct response branding.

As prospects are scrolling quickly through a Facebook feed, they breeze right over all the stuff that looks the same as everything else… Stock photos, charts and graphs, head shots, even stupid cat videos get ignored these days.

They only pause when they see something that “Pops.”

The incongruity of the image or message, relative to everything else they see, creates natural human curiosity. It’s just the way our brains work.

a new approach to website design BNBrandingOn the other hand, we are wired to ignore the images, sounds and words that are familiar to us.

So familiar words, sounds and imagery do not belong in your advertising efforts.

Thanks to an increasingly fragmented marketing landscape, the need for consistently UNfamiliar visuals is on the rise. There are just so many different marketing tactics these days, it’s hard to get them all aligned into one, cohesive campaign. Most companies lose that “Pop” they could get by maintaining visual consistency across various platforms.

The same goes for sounds. The very best Radio, TV and video campaigns include unique sound cues that tie all the components of the campaign together. For instance, I wrote an award-winning radio campaign for a glass company, and the audio cue couldn’t have been more clear… the squeek of windex on a window.

It was an audible punctuation mark that proved very successful.

Visual punctuation marks, such as the images in our “Be” Campaign, can make small budgets look big. It’s one of the little things that small businesses can do to become iconic brands in their own, little spaces.

Brand design advice Tom PetersTom Peters, in his book The Little Big Things, says “design mindfulness, even design excellence, should be part of every company’s core values.

Because the look IS the message. Because design is everything.”

Some people seem to think that “branding messages” do not belong on social media or in digital advertising. And that you can’t design a “branding” website that also moves product.

That’s hogwash.

As Peters said, every message out there is branding. You can’t differentiate sales messages or social messages from brand messages. It’s all connected. You might as well make them look that way.

Consistent, unexpected brand design is the easiest way to improve the impact of your messages and leverage your marketing spend.

If you’re not thinking about branding and design aesthetics when posting something on LinkedIn or Instagram, you’re missing a huge opportunity. People will just scroll on by.

truth in advertising BNBranding

If you’re not thinking about design when crafting headlines for your website, you’re not seeing the big picture. People will just click right out.

If you’re not thinking about your brand image when choosing a location or decorating your office space, you’re missing the boat.

Design is just one element of your overall branding efforts. But it’s an important one. Too important to ignore. Because every time you hammer home those visual cues, you move one little step closer to your objective.

If your business needs a stronger visual presence across all marketing channels, give us a call.

Or click here for an inexpensive yin/yang assessment of all your marketing efforts.

a new approach to website design BNBranding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same with sounds.

 

 

Website development services

branding sites that sell

 

Websites That Rank.
Online Storefronts That Sell.
And Brands You Can Take To The Bank.

 

At BNBranding, results are built in to our website development process.

The sites we build work well because they’re driven by a rock-solid SEO strategy, which in turn, depends entirely on exceptional content.

Ours is a content-first approach that you won’t find at any other website development company in Bend, Oregon.

Our sites deliver high Google rankings, good sales volumes, and exceptional engagement analytics. Because we start with adequate planning, a marketing mindset, and an actual content strategy.

For us it’s website strategy first. Then content. Then design and development. Not the other way around.

Our Content-First website development process will save you money and produce better result. Here’s how:

  • Faster turn-around time and fewer rounds of changes and approvals. There are no false starts.
  • Highly prioritized and expertly produced content means better relevance, higher search engine rankings, and more credibility for your brand.
  • Our websites are highly differentiated. You won’t look or sound like the competition.
  • Our websites provide a better user experience because they’re well thought-out, well written, and quite simply, better looking.
  • Our websites are brand driven, not technology driven. So you get consistent messaging and maximum leverage from all your marketing efforts.

We’ve been building websites since 1998, so our process is well-tuned. We know how to get projects through to completion, with the least amount of hassle and the most cost efficiency.

Step 1: Research
Our Bend, Oregon website design services begin not with design, but with research. Competitive analysis, keyword research and a keen understanding of the target audience. That’s what you need to start with if you want a successful website.

Step 2: SEO-based Content Strategy
Content Strategy means that your site will deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time, for all the right reasons. For us, copywriting and graphics are not after-thoughts. They are the foundation of a successful SEO strategy and the key to differentiation. We team up with BNBranding to ensure the very best content in your business category.

Step 3: SEO- Based Site Architecture
User flow, linking strategy and URL structure has a huge impact on your future SEO rankings. So we do it right from the beginning.

Step 4: Design
Gorgeous, arresting design can mean the difference between a click-out and a check out. Our graphic designers will help polish up your brand for the most effective ever.

Step 5: Development
We’ve seen it all. Currently we build our sites on the WordPress platform or on Shopify, depending on your objectives. Then we layour-on all the necessary bells and whistles to make your site function perfectly in context with the rest of your business.

Step 6: Testing and Iteration
This step is surprisingly easy when you begin with a solid strategy and exceptional content. We don’t spend months going back and forth because it was all approved up front.

Step 7: Maintenance and training
We’ll work with your in-house webmaster or marketing coordinator to make sure the site is easily updated and constantly monitored. Because SEO rankings are not static. You always have to mind the store.

Step 8: Traffic Building
No matter how good our SEO is, you can’t rely on organic traffic alone. We team with BNBranding to devise digital ad campaigns, sales funnels, content marketing and other promotional strategies to drive traffic to your site.

 

1 new approach to website design

A new approach to website design – What’s the big idea?

BNBranding logoI grew up on the creative side of the advertising industry. In that world, big ideas produce big bucks. Agency creative teams toil endlessly to come up with the spark of an idea that can be leveraged into a giant, category-busting campaign.

When it comes to winning new accounts, ad agencies pit their ideas, head-to-head, with the big ideas from competing agencies. Winner takes all. In that business, big ideas are the currency of success.

a new approach to website design BNBrandingBig ideas are also the bread and butter of the start-up world.

Entrepreneurs and VCs are constantly searching for innovative, disruptive ideas that solve a problem, attract venture capital and produce teaming hordes of 28-year old billionaires.

And in Hollywood, producers are aways searching for high-concept movie ideas that break out of the normal, predictable patterns and produce box-office mega hits like Avatar or Titanic.

There’s absolutely no doubt that big ideas can transform a brand — from bland to brilliant. And there’s no doubt that your website is great place to showcase that big idea.

But you’re going to need a new approach to website design.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the typical website project, big ideas are as rare as a Harry Potter blockbuster.

Most small business websites are nothing more than bad corporate brochures in electronic form. Everywhere you look there are cookie-cutter templates, lousy stock photos and “keyword-rich” copy that sounds like it was rendered by a robot rather than written by a pro.

You wouldn’t take a generic ad template that all your competitors are using, fill in the blanks, and then spend $20,000 to run it in a national magazine. But that’s essentially what a lot of companies are doing with their website design projects. It’s like paint by numbers, and the results are mind-numbing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we need a whole new approach to website design.

Because the current standard operating procedure for website projects is all wrong. It shouldn’t be a project at all, it should be an ongoing initiative. It should always be evolving and improving, just like your business.

“When’s it going to be done?” is the wrong question to ask.  It should never be done.

Instead, ask “What’s the big idea?” What’s the novel concept that will differentiate this website from all the rest, and move viewers to action?

A new approach to website design BNBrandingEveryone in the web development world knows that web projects get bogged down by one thing: “Content.”

The tech guys who build sites are always waiting for interesting headlines, engaging copy, uncommon offers, authentic stories and brilliant graphics to arrive from the client. Sometimes, it seems, for an eternity.

Because that’s the hardest part. Building a site on a WordPress theme is easy compared to the work that has to be done, up front…

First you need some Strategic Insight. Then the Big Idea. (Think “Got Milk” or “Where’s The Beef.”) THEN execution… That’s where all the elements come together.  1-2-3.

Unfortunately, most companies jump right to Step 3.

In the web design arena, the tail is definitely wagging the dog. It’s technology first, process second, content third, design fourth. Nowhere does the big idea come into play. It’s the most commonly overlooked element of any web project.

So here’s my advice for any business owner or marketing person who’s thinking of “doing a new website”:

Forget about that. Stop thinking of it as a website design project, and instead, launch a campaign that starts with a with a big idea that is showcased on the website. Think of it as a long-term marketing program, not a short-term project. Think of it as a new approach to web design that’s more wholistic, more integrated, and more effective than the old way.

Yes, paddling back upstream is often difficult work. And you often need outside help to come up with the strategic insight and big idea you really need. But the effort will pay off.

The big idea is the branding thread that connects all your marketing efforts… It’s not limited just to your website. It should carry through to your social media campaigns, your paid advertising, your PR and even your customer service procedures.

a new approach to website design by BNBrandingWhen you begin with a big idea, the website falls into place quite naturally. It’s just another tactical execution of the big, strategic idea. When it’s done right, it obviously aligns your marketing strategy and tactics into one, kick-ass idea.

For more on the new approach to website design, try this post.

If you’d like an affordable, honest assessment of your current strategy and website tactics, click here. 

If you want expert marketing assistance, just give us a call. 541-815-0075.

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