4 Design Trends to Watch for in 2021

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4 Design Trends to Watch for in 2021

2020 was a year we had to go with the flow in many ways.

In design trends, creativity flowed in liquid patterns, 3D realism, funky geometric shapes, innovative typography, and more. But while these concepts borrowed from sci-fi and futuristic tech, new styles may pivot toward bringing reality back in focus.

Here’s a sneak peek of four graphic design trends to watch for in 2021:

Back to Nature

One well-documented side effect of the coronavirus pandemic was a thirst for nature.

Creatives can capitalize on this by bringing the outdoors inside, highlighting gorgeous natural ambiance. Expect 2021 designs to mimic nature, natural lights, softer earthy colors and tones, natural gradients in color schemes, flowing lines, and more. Want to try it yourself? Use color filters to create natural ambiance in your images, or grab textures featuring wood, stone, waves, and more.

If you can’t go to the forest, let the forest come to you!

Simple Data Visualizations

When you’ve done your homework, you want to make this information matter.

Complex data is hard to understand, and simple data visualizations (like graphs, charts, educational posters, or infographics) make communication much more effective. Stats show that visual content is processed 60,000 times faster than text, and 72% percent of marketers agree that visual content is more effective than text.

Seek to transform great ideas into powerful images through creative alternatives like custom symbols, photo manipulation progressions, educational posters, animated gifs, personified maps, and more.

Non-Conformity

After 2020 limited our freedom in so many ways, many will be looking to push back by breaking the rules.

Watch for this in design as trends teeter toward more rebellious features that create a feeling of brazen defiance.

“What we were first taught not to do, we now do by intention,” explains graphic designer Michal Sloboda, who’s also the founder of graphic design aggregator Trend List. “There are many more rules to be broken, and by doing so, we can come across something seemingly bizarre, but also unique or beautiful.”

What might this look like in your designs? The more imperfect, the better. Use clashing font, psychedelic photos, irreverent characters, chaos typography, surreal imagery, and wild colors like lush lava, phantom blue, and aqua menthe.

Blurred Backgrounds

Gradients and color transitions have been a popular trend for a few years now.

In 2021, many designers will look to add another layer, blending gradient hues with blurry and blended background images. Grainy filters can bring a sense of grunge and grime or rustic and vintage. And a blurred image can evoke emotions of what hides beneath the exterior.

Whether it’s a grayscale cityscape layer or a forlorn silhouette background, combining textured photos with blended gradients can bring a transitory — yet authentic — contrast to your design.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

2021 will be nothing if not interesting, so kickstart the new year with a style all your own.

To get started, it’s helpful to reflect on the past and decide what you’ll do differently in the future. Stay ahead of the curve with these design trends, and let us know if we can help infuse your designs with a fresh look in the months to come!

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Add Spice to Your Print Ads with Distinct, Arresting Images

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Add Spice to Your Print Ads with Distinct, Arresting Images

In a world where digital advertising screams for attention, print ads need a little extra spice to compete.

Ads that evoke emotion, add humor, or spark curiosity have extra impact. Need inspiration? Here are three imaginative print campaigns to consider.

Opel: A Road Safety Campaign

Opel, a German automobile manufacturer, wanted to draw attention to the danger of texting while driving.

Opel’s message is distinct because it uses nothing more than the black background and a short line of text that packs a big punch:

“Your typjng whille you drive is asbad as your drivinh whilr yoou typr.”

Sharp, memorable, and humorous, this ad immediately shows why texting driving is a bad idea. Opel paired this with gigantic black and white sidewalk banners of a person pushing a 7-meter-long baby stroller. The banners included this caption, highlighted in yellow:

“1 second on your phone are 7 meters on the street. Don’t text and drive.”

Vodol: Smelly and Simple

Did you know the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words?

With a picture, you convey much more than you can with words. In some cases, it can take a thousand words to describe what is displayed in one picture!

Whenever possible, use pictures that share concepts in striking, unusual ways. Vodol, one of Brazil’s best-known brands for preventing athlete’s foot and odor issues, nailed this strategy. Its print ad featured a foot with normal toes and arches, while a rounded nose took the place of the heel’s natural curve. The nostril – mashed into the ground – was accompanied by this caption:

“Protect your feet. And our noses.”

French Ministry of Health: Offend Others or Let a Bland Message “Melt” Away?

Print ads in magazines, newspapers, and catalogs are viewed as more trustworthy by consumers who already have connections with that print advertising channel.

Looking to address childhood obesity and target behavior change, the French Ministry of Health created a print ad where a flesh-colored, triple-scoop ice cream cone was melting into the shape of a very large belly.

This arresting image, accompanied by the caption “obesity starts at a young age,” caused people everywhere to think twice about daily food choices. Sometimes a stark image is needed to grab attention, and in this case – with the number of obese people doubling in recent years – France was serious about getting its message across.

Strategic Design is Key

While each of these print ads each hold some shock value, they also carry a distinct, easy-to-understand message.

To create effective print ads, thoughtful design is essential. Because of its tactile nature and sensory impact, print offers a more curated approach than digital media. Use highly targeted content and distinct, powerful images to grab attention and compel engagement from your viewers.

And, as these ads demonstrate, simplicity is powerful. To go for more, sometimes what you really need is less.

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How to Restart the Conversation When a Lead Has Gone Cold

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How to Restart the Conversation When a Lead Has Gone Cold

Adding new customers to your sales funnel is essential for growth, and lead generation is vital.

For many industries, generating a lead can cost anywhere from $25 to $300. So, after you’ve made an initial contact or pushed for a commitment, what should you do when prospects disengage?

Don’t give up! When leads stop responding, hope is not lost. Smart entrepreneurs can use many strategies to rekindle interest. Here are a few options to consider:

Prime the Pump

Leads go cold for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon them.

According to Jim Obermayer, author of Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, 56% of people who indicated they might like to buy a product are still in play six months later, and 35% percent are still in the market after one year.

“Leads do not go cold as much as it is not yet their time to buy in the one-year cycle,” Obermayer said. “A rep may approach them before they are ready.”

Though it’s challenging to follow up after a long window of time, Obermayer suggests priming the pump, using an email first, followed by a personal call.

Ask One Key Question

Don’t start a conversation without a strategy or direction.

When you reconnect, remind the prospect of the last time you spoke, the level of interest they expressed, and any questions you discussed.

If they weren’t initially ready to buy, tell them you’re following up to gauge interest or update them on what’s changed since the last interaction (like a revamped product or updated subscription options). If they still seem non-committal, don’t be afraid to ask this question:

“Should I close your file?”

Differentiate Your Approach

If leads have been ignoring your outreach attempts, try adding value, or shifting your approach.

Consider a direct text message campaign, an email with a link to a freebie, or a direct mail invitation to a special event. Custom videos can also provide a non-threatening way to break the ice. Call prospects by name, refer to your previous conversation, and send an encouraging message to show you care about them personally.

You may be surprised by what a kind word can do!

Send a Break-Up Email

If you’ve followed up with someone multiple times and your prospects seem bleak, it’s ok to send a farewell message.

In fact, a last chance email can elicit a 76% response rate. Used in a friendly, conversational way, giving final notice can jolt someone out of complacency and get them moving.

Here’s one example:

Hi Tina,

After several attempts to reconnect, it seems your interest in _____ may have waned. That’s totally fine, but I’m just wondering if we should keep trying or find a better time?

To keep things simple, I’d appreciate if you could respond with a simple keystroke (reply with either A, B, C, D, or E) to indicate your level of interest:

  • A. Stop emailing me with attempts to connect but continue to send event invitations.
  • B. Please remove me from your list.
  • C. I may need your help, but the timing isn’t right. Please keep trying!
  • D. I want to schedule a time to talk – could you please send your availability?
  • E. I forgot who you are. Can you refresh my memory?

Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Think of Reconnecting as an Opportunity

One of the best ways to revive a cold lead is to stay positive.

Don’t worry about annoying a prospect; the only way you’ll know if someone’s interested is by asking! While you don’t want to be pushy, it’s better to error on the side of optimism. In reality, only 10% to 25% of all leads are followed up on. By following up, you stand a chance of standing out.

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How to Lead with a Level Head in Stressful Situations

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How to Lead with a Level Head in Stressful Situations

On January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 ascended from LaGuardia Airport and had a chance encounter with an unexpected adversary.

Shortly after take-off, the Airbus struck a flock of Canadian geese. Flames exploded before an eerie silence, and an odor of fuel filled the cabin. Both engines had shut down, and Captain Chesley Sullenberger and his team tried unsuccessfully to restart them. After turning back toward LaGuardia, the pilots quickly realized their only option was an emergency water landing in the Hudson River.

As they passed less than 900 feet above the George Washington Bride, Sullenberger radioed the coast guard for assistance and barked “brace for impact!” Ninety seconds later, the plane crashed into the water with no bounce, followed by a gradual deceleration and a speedy deboarding. All 150 passengers were saved, and Sullenberger was the last to deplane after walking the cabin twice to ensure it was empty.

Later, the crew was presented with “keys to the city” by mayor Micheal Bloomberg, and the incident was dubbed “the miracle on the Hudson.”

Four Tips to Steady Your Nerve

Have you ever had a “falling-through-the-floor feeling” moment like this in your leadership?

Maybe it wasn’t a life or death experience, but most seasoned leaders regularly experience pressure. While these moments may tempt you to lash out in anger or duck and run, level-headed leaders make decisions that are rational, consistent, and upbeat.

Want to stay calm in the heat of the moment? Here are four steps to consider:

1. Conduct a Threat Assessment

When the alarm signals start to flash, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of “what if” statements: What if X? What if XYZ?

Instead, step away from this panic-mode mentality and ask a simple question: “what kind of problem is this?” Here you can discern if something needs an immediate reaction, a team-based response, or a strategic, long-term plan.

2. Leverage Prior Experience

While you may not have faced this particular challenge before, you’ve probably been in a similar situation.

Ask yourself, “When ____ happened before, how did we resolve it?” Even if you’ve only faced this scenario in training, tell yourself, “this is just a different version of a problem I’ve solved before.” Leveraging past experiences (and those of your close colleagues) can help you size up a challenge and rationally consider the threats at hand.

3. Focus on What You Can Control

When things get tough, it isn’t easy to stay positive.

But an upbeat attitude is more than a rosy perspective; it’s actually a lifeline to breakthrough. One Navy-trained explosive specialist shared a story of a time he was defusing a mine underwater and got trapped, unable to move his hands or his feet.

How did he move forward? With positive thinking: “I’m still breathing, so that’s good,” he told himself. “What else do I have that’s going for me?”

The specialist realized that even if he could do one little thing to make something better, this was better than no control at all:

“If you can do another thing and then another thing, then you can have cascading positivity as opposed to spiraling negativity,” he said. “It’s really only an emergency if I can’t find a better solution.”

4. Plan Your Next Step

Even if you can’t see a way out, you can probably take one step forward.

When you don’t have a solution, the secret to staying calm is to decide on a next step. This prevents an anxious gap from opening, where worry and speculation can flourish.

Think in technical terms, ask for help, and take a baby step forward wherever possible. Focus on the process, not the outcome, and you’ll stay sharp in moments of crisis.

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Shout Your News with Stylish Printed Announcements

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Shout Your News with Stylish Printed Announcements

Have you recently won an award, reached a milestone, or done something pretty incredible?

Whether you’re launching a product or expanding to a new market, your business or organization can share the news far and wide with printed announcement cards. In a world of digital noise, the medium is just as important as the message, so why not opt for something more personal and pristine with gorgeous custom announcements?

Share Something Special and Significant

Announcement cards offer a wonderful way to market your events, products, achievements, or stay in touch with your clients. These stylish notes are more than just fluff; they denote something of significance that boosts your brand and business.

Want to put your news at their fingertips? Here are just a few catchy headers:

  • Launching SOON
  • Coming to a neighborhood near you
  • We’re Hiring
  • The Future is HERE
  • You asked, we answered . . .
  • Save 20% more time with _____!
  • We’re growing. Find us at our new location __________
  • The best in the business: presenting our award winning ___________
  • Your new investment expert: welcoming MBA Edwin Harris to our endowment team

Want to have some fun with your announcements? Try one of these energetic theme ideas:

Take a photo of your team holding a sign announcing the news. Add colored party hats, streamers, or sparkling confetti.

Try peel-to-win cards or scratch-off tickets. Everyone loves a surprise, so include peel-to-win promotions (for example: 20-50-75 percent off or an exclusive 10 grand prize winners) as part of your announcement card.

Post a picture of a new location or featured team member using eye-catching props (like pulling a $100 bill from a magician’s hat or posing with a llama that is wearing a birthday hat).

Print a customized puzzle and send it in an envelope, so recipients have to put together the pieces to learn about your exciting news.

Do a mailing to your key referral contacts (or top clients) with a note and gift relating to the announcement. You may use a simple postcard for the majority of customers but add an incentive for others. For example, when announcing your new GOLD status, send bags of gold chocolate coins or gold-dusted chocolate strawberries to your VIP clients.

Keep Readers Curious

Remember, while announcements involve your news, readers will enjoy them more when you make it about THEM.

In all your messaging, focus on how your news translates into value for your friends and customers. Reiterate a special offer, a time-bound coupon, or a free sample for clients who attend your event. Use powerful action calls or “you” statements that convey benefits for the user. Whether you are a political candidate or a neighborhood business, reader-focused messaging gets the best results.

For example:

Measure Strain Without Stress

Make the Most Out of Your ________

Advancing our Community Together

Save $100 on Your Subscription When You Bundle _________ and __________

Something to Write Home About

Printable announcement cards make it easy to send exciting news to your friends and associates without breaking the bank.

From elegantly embossed envelopes to oversized foil-stamped postcards, ensure your message shines strong as you share events, grand openings, sales announcements, and more.

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Drive Exponential Growth Through Omnichannel Marketing

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Drive Exponential Growth Through Omnichannel Marketing

The more technology advances, the more it is integrated into our daily lives.

From customized print ads to apps that help you find the kitchen section in your favorite IKEA store, customers are no longer confined to a single channel or platform as they interact with a brand. And as entrepreneurs become increasingly responsive to individual customers’ needs, the lines between what we do on- and offline will continue to blur.

Omnichannel Marketing in Action

An omnichannel experience is a multichannel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers that unifies many mediums to work together.

Here your print marketing, onsite displays, mobile marketing, and testimonials all tell a consistent story while providing an integrated shopping experience. The focus is on building a stronger relationship between consumers and the brand by smoothing the customer experience, generating consistent content, and multiplying conversions.

What might this look like? The possibilities are as varied as your imagination! Here’s just one example from Coca-Cola:

According to the 2018 World Happiness Report, Romania ranks amongst the top 10 unhappiest countries in Europe.

To turn the Romanian’s attention to the country’s overlooked positive news, Coca-Cola Romania launched an inspiring campaign with the hashtag #halffull and an innovative package.

The special bottle, full from the half up, displays positive news about Romania, and urges people to share their “half full story.” Two hundred bottles were sent to Romanian influencers, and the campaign appeared in contextual outdoor displays, social media videos, and websites.

Marketing manager Luliana Nedelcu said this:

“Optimism and positivity are the heart of the Coca-Cola brand, and what better way to launch a conversation about seeing the half full side than through Coca-Cola’s most iconic asset, the glass bottle? We believe this idea has the power to make a true impact, and the reactions and engagement with the campaign so far are a testament of its success.”

Customers on the Move

Why is omnichannel marketing so important?

Because today’s consumers are always on the move! For example:

  • 98% of Americans switch between devices on the same day
  • 71% of shoppers who use smartphones for research in-store say this has become an important part of their shopping experience
  • Today’s consumers average six touchpoints with a business before making a purchase, with nearly 50% regularly using more than four communication channels

The difference between multichannel and omnichannel marketing is small, but mastering omnichannel marketing can work wonders for your bottom line.

Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t. And companies with robust omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, combined with a 7.5% decrease in cost per contact.

Why Print Prompts Action

Weaving your print and digital marketing together is an integral part of the omnichannel approach.

Print continues as a catalyst to drive online research and buying practices, and it can spark interest at crucial points in your sales funnel. Data shows that 44 percent of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving direct mail marketing (10 percent more than people who visit landing pages after receiving an email). While under half of all consumers act on an email immediately, almost four out of every five customers will act on direct mail right away. And half of all consumers hold on to print marketing materials for future reference.

Ready to expand the role of print in your omnichannel marketing? We’re here to help you integrate the “moving parts” of your campaigns and point customers to their next best action!

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How to Ask for Help at Work

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How to Ask for Help at Work

Were you forced to work from home in 2020?

What were your biggest challenges? Perhaps it was learning the necessary technology – or teaching it to others. Maybe it was forming a new business plan. Or perhaps you struggled to meet the workday demands while homeschooling your kids.

If you weren’t stretched this year, you were probably in the minority! And as you reached the end of your abilities, you probably faced a question most people prefer to avoid:

“How can I ask for help without looking weak?”

Though an independent attitude is great, at some point, everyone needs to lean on others. And sometimes, a can-do spirit can push you to take on more than you can reasonably handle, leading to failure or burnout. According to a 2018 Gallup study, 23% of full-time workers reported feeling burned out at work very often or always. And one major reason for this burnout was an unmanageable workload.

Examples of How to Ask for Help

Do you need more help but struggle to verbalize this? If so, having a script to start from can be a push in the right direction. Here are some principles and example “asks” that might be helpful:

Keep it Simple

When you beat around the bush, people sometimes feel manipulated or deceived. Instead, lead with a simple phrase like, “I’m stuck,” or “Can you please help me?”

Be Specific

When you want a clear answer, lead with a specific request.

For example: “Are you free Wednesday morning? I need feedback on my sales report and would greatly value your input.”

Or: “Can you give me a warm intro to Russ Colton? He’s your head of marketing, and I would love to collaborate with him.”

Give the “Why” Behind Your Request

People are much more likely to help you out when they know why your request is important. Try leading with a need, like this:

"I’m awful at design, and my slides look terrible. Could you help me tweak this presentation?”

Or: “This project needs to be done by Friday, and I have no idea how that will happen. We are juggling three proposals, and I can only manage two projects this week.”

Use Examples of Effectiveness

When you compliment someone during your request, they realize you truly value their input.

Try leading with a specific example of their competency, like:

“Would you please review this before I send it to XYZ? Your input really helped my previous pitch to ABC succeed.”

Begin with a Question

When you want to ask for help, start your request with a discussion and a clarifying question.

For example: “I’m still learning the ropes on this – could you give me an idea of how long this task should take me?”

From here, you can follow up with natural questions, press into another’s expertise, or pose a specific request about where you need assistance.

Say Thanks in Advance

Gratitude is always a powerful way to appeal to others.

A recent study of 350,000 e-mail exchanges found that sign-offs like “thanks in advance” and “thanks” yielded average response rates from 63-66%, compared with 51-54% for other popular options (including “best,” “regards,” and “cheers”). Even expressed preemptively, gratitude can keep people invested in helping you, as long as you focus more on their generosity and selflessness—and what that says about them as people—than on how you’ll personally benefit.

Together is Better

Finally, remember that when you need help, it’s best to be as honest as possible.

Being authentic and truthful makes people trust you and increases their desire to pitch in. And when you ask for help, you increase your team’s likelihood of succeeding and thriving.

Teamwork benefits everyone – so don’t be afraid to ask!

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Command Results with These 4 Direct Mail Brochure Formats

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Command Results with These 4 Direct Mail Brochure Formats

Ready to open doors and grab leads for your business?

Direct mail brochures are a great piece of any marketing plan and are especially useful in building consumer confidence. According to the Direct Mail Association, 56 percent of consumers consider print marketing the most trustworthy form of advertising, and 65 percent of consumers have bought something from a direct-mail piece.

When considering your next direct mail campaign, here are some reasons brochures might be best:

Clear Comprehension

The human brain is designed to understand more when something looks “real.”

As a time-tested commodity, brochures offer an easy-to-follow layout that builds instant connections with all types of people. Brochures also connect well with memory because they engage people’s spatial memory networks.

Increased Brain Response

In this busy age of low attention spans, physical materials increase the brain response of every viewer.

There’s something blissful in physical opening print pieces: the smell of the ink, the texture of a product. And that sensory stimulation has big benefits – people continue reading longer from a physical page and retain information better from print than from digital media.

Enduring Presence

Direct mail brochures are ideal for customers who weigh a decision because people can read them many times or store them for future reference.

Brochures offer an attractive, compact option to get your advertising read or handed around to others. Every time someone new picks up your brochure, your message makes an impression. And brochures are far more likely to be saved or filed when someone needs more time to consider.

Bring Your Message to Life

When you’re building a concept for your next direct mail brochure, here are a few schematic options to consider:

1. Product/Benefit Layout

When you want to share more information about your business or its benefits, brochures provide a clean, logical layout.

Your brochure panels might tout your firm’s professional capabilities, your product’s unique selling points, or the practical advantages of your services.

2. Testimonial Brochure

Personal endorsements are extremely valuable, as prospects value others’ opinions more than any direct claims you make.

Use your brochure panels to feature pull quotes, before and after success stories, or reviews from real people (featuring names, photos, or dates). Best fit customers are influencers that prompt your readers to think, “I can relate to this person, and I trust their opinion.”

3. Question/Answer Format

Similar to a testimonial design, the Q/A format is very versatile.

Use it to address target customers’ felt needs, disarm suspicion, or present interviews with key company executives. Answering questions reduces buyer tension and creates an immediate bond with readers.

4. Fold-over Mailer with Postcard

Want to double your impact?

Try a fold-over mailer with a postcard inside. Fold-over mailers serve as both a brochure and a mini-poster and allow for heightened reader engagement as postcards are removed. Either piece can be passed to others or posted for later reference, allowing flexibility in concept and design.

Hook, Story, Offer

No matter what format you use, every direct mail piece needs a strong hook.

Most people will scan your external copy looking for a reason to read (or toss!) your brochure. State significant benefits upfront, or ask a question that must be answered. Start headlines with active verbs and keep this big question central: “What’s in it for me?”

Lead with this perspective, and you’ll entice them every time!

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How to Use Normalization to Change Behavior

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How to Use Normalization to Change Behavior

If you grew up in the early eighties, you’re probably familiar with the “Mikey likes it” Life cereal campaign.

This capstone commercial centered on three young brothers eating breakfast. Before them sits a heaping bowl of Life. Two brothers question each other about it, noting that it is supposed to be healthy. Neither has any desire to taste it (“I’m not gonna try it—you try it”), so they test it on their brother (“Let’s get Mikey . . . he won’t eat it, he hates everything!”).

Mikey briefly stares at the bowl, then starts devouring the cereal, as his brothers excitedly exclaim, “He likes it!”

Strategically Shaping the Internal Narrative

If you are a professional marketer, your job exists to do one key thing: to make change happen.

Finding an agent to trigger change – like Mikey demonstrating healthy cereal is delicious – is the key to persuasion. But this can be harder than it sounds because all people act in accordance with their internal narrative. You can’t get someone to do what they don’t want to do! And most of the time, the action a person takes is one that reinforces their internal narrative.

In sales, your fundamental goal is to tap into someone’s internal narrative and strategically shape it. Some people have a narrative that makes them open to changing their behavior (e.g., Martin Lloyd votes for various individual candidates, not a specific political party), while others are very resistant.

But for most people, behavior change is driven by a desire to fit in (people like us do things like this) and perception of status (affiliation or dominance). People don’t make decisions in a vacuum – instead, they base them on the perceptions of their cohort.

Actions are primarily driven by one question: “Do people like me do things like ____?” For example:

  • People like me don’t speed in residential neighborhoods.
  • People like me avoid debt.
  • People like me love funky accessories.
  • People like me buy organic.

Normalization creates culture, and culture drives choices, which leads to more normalization.

So marketers can prompt change by normalizing new behaviors among a specific cohort of people. In the “people like us do ____” paradigm, the “us” matters. The more specific you can be about who “us” is, the better.

Here are three steps toward normalizing new ideas:

1. Map and understand the worldview of the cohort you seek to change.

2. Focus all your energy on this group. Ignore everyone outside this persona and build stories that will resonate with your target (soccer moms, granola hippies, techie teens, etc.).

3. Within this subculture, build an exclusive cohort. Exclusive is an internal measure (us versus them, insiders versus outsiders) that members resonate with. Exclusive organizations thrive when members are clearly identified, and inclusion is perceived as valuable or beneficial. People love to belong and to gain status as they link up with others “like us.” And when you market to “we” or “us” cohorts, your message carries much greater weight.

Case Study: The Blue Ribbon School District

Ready to see normalization in action? Here’s one example from marketer Seth Godin:

My little town had a problem. Despite having extraordinary schools (our elementary school won the national Blue Ribbon School designation), there was a schism over the upcoming budget vote. Many were upset about rising school taxes and, for the first time in memory, the first school budget failed.

Before the final budget vote, school proponents stopped trying to defend budget numbers and took a new tack: they tied one hundred blue ribbons to a big tree in front of the middle school in the center of town. Within days, the idea spread. In the week before the election, dozens of trees around town had blue ribbons hanging from them. Thousands of blue ribbons hung by dozens of families.

The message was simple – “people like us, people in this Blue Ribbon district, support our schools.”

The budget passed two to one.

When you target the smallest viable market, you maximize your chance of changing behavior. This subset of people, enriched and connected by the change you promote, can then organically share the word with the next layer of the market.

That is the power or people like us.

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3 Companies with a Killer Brand Identity

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3 Companies with a Killer Brand Identity

Trust builds confidence.

That is why a strong corporate brand identity can make or break a business. Brand identity is more than key values or approved color palettes; it is the collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer.

When a company has a strong brand, it is easily recognized, which grows people’s trust. Trust builds confidence, and confidence begets loyalty. When a business has built superiority in a particular niche, repeat customers are more willing to buy in other areas. When you have loyalty from your base, you have space to increase prices or ask for bigger commitments.

Want to craft a style that is timely and relevant to your audience? Here are three inspiring examples of brands who have nailed it:

Tesla

Tesla is an electric vehicle and clean energy company with long-range, eco-friendly electric cars.

They are also very expensive. To build customer confidence, Tesla leaves price out of their branding and focuses on combining its fun personality combined with its incredible quality. CEO Elon Musk has built himself up as a Tony Stark-like character, and the brand promotes its uniqueness through ads and quirky features (like Super Cars with a “Ludicrous Mode”).

Tesla also relies on communities to tell its story, and passionate ambassadors have sprouted up worldwide to shout their love for the brand. Spain’s Tesla Club on Facebook has more than 7,300 members, and user-generated content is some of the most effective marketing in Tesla’s toolbox.

Dollar Shave Club

When you see this name, what comes to mind? Probably value.

At its core, Dollar Shave Club (DSC) is an everyman’s brand with a simple proposition: name-brand razors cost too much, but DSC offers quality alternatives at a rock-bottom price.

The brand bills itself as smart and stylish, conforming perfectly to customer needs. Each month, customers receive beautifully branded boxes with playful welcome notes and dapper products. When you join DSC, you’re not just subscribing to low-cost products; you’re investing in the monthly delight that comes with them!

To reinforce this tone, the brand snubs highbrow marketing and pursues a cheeky, casual vibe. While other shaving brands go for a sleek image (with men who look like actors and models), Dollar Shave Club features average looking people across a wide age range.

Parkinson’s Foundation

For many nonprofits, design can be an afterthought.

But the Parkinson’s Foundation has created a fresh visual identity that reflects the exciting, dynamic organization it is. A unique logo resembles a brain in a head, a subtle nod to the neurological disorder. The bright blue is a vibrant hue, communicating excitement and zest for life and the promise of “Better Lives. Together.”

The brand’s fundraising hinges on a promise of hope and progress and designs highlight this sense of cooperation. Custom imagery features a wide range of real individuals from throughout the Parkinson’s community—doctors, caregivers, donors, and people living with Parkinson’s — united by a single bright blue color that symbolizes their optimistic approach to fighting the disease.

In a spirit of community, the foundation logo is specifically designed as a platform for community expression, offering an open space (like a speech bubble) for individuals to handwrite messages or personalize materials (like, “For Dad”). Parkinson’s supporters love customizing it to share their own messages on social media and engage others in the fight.

A Voice All Your Own

Corporate branding has the power to attract, engage, and communicate just what you want with your clients.

But you can only do this by connecting with customers where they are. Strong brands succeed because they resonate with a portion of their market better than anyone else.

When you’re working to shape designs, use a voice that resonates with your audience. If your brand was a person, how would it communicate? Be consistent, confident, and unique, and your voice will shine through on every occasion!

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