Take a minute to answer this: What is your brand personality? Write down at least three solid traits (one word each) of your business.

brand personality profile

Now ask this question to your team. Are the personality traits the same? If your team isn’t on the same page about your brand personality, your audience is going to have a difficult time understanding your brand, too.

Brand personality defined

Brand personality is more than how you use your logo, fonts, and colors — though that consistency is important — it’s the messaging, the voice, the persona your brand presents to your audience. Your customers may be drawn to your beautiful logo and color palette, but the ultimate bond is created when they experience a personal connection with your brand.

Human characteristics

Think about it. If your brand were your real-life friend, you would want to know them. He or she may wear a cool T-shirt and sport the same brand shoes on a regular basis, but what really matters is at the core of that friend. Your entire team’s understanding of your brand is critical to the makeup of your brand personality.

Whether you’re taking control of it or not, your brand personality is evolving. What’s driving its direction?

brand personality growth chart on wall

Craft your brand personality

Here are 3 quick tips for defining (or redefining) your brand character traits:

1. Brainstorm with your team.

Individually, collect some words you feel describe your brand (or the direction you want your brand to go). Let this be a free form exercise. At the end of the designated time, come together to compare your individual lists.

2. Narrow your list.

As you compare your lists as a team, keep track of which words echoed, and combine synonyms. This list may still be long, depending on how unified your keywords were.

3. Build a profile.

Using your team list, talk about your brand as a person. If you were to embody your brand, what would it look like? Clarify age, interests, values, goals, beliefs. Is it a man or woman? Gentle or dominant? Energetic or laid-back? Witty or serious? Figure out who your brand is, and make sure your team is in complete agreement.

We, at TCD, can also lend our expertise and take you through this evaluation process.

Once your brand personality is clear, you can take back the wheel and make sure all that’s communicated about your brand lines up with the profile you’ve created.

Clarifying confusion: a mini case study

Public charter school Académie Lafayette (AL) had a perception problem: people did not understand the public charter concept or the school’s need for funding. Even though the school had been operating since 1999, it needed to better communicate its offerings and — you guessed it — brand personality.

Académie Lafayette Branding Logo Design

When we developed the school’s logo, we collaborated with the AL team to define the school’s brand personality. The logo was just the start of a larger initiative to position AL. Following the logo creation, we designed a brochure that explained AL’s educational structure and inherent financial challenges.

Académie Lafayette brand personality brochure

Storytelling, testimonials, facts and figures, and overall messaging pointed to the school’s brand personality traits:

  • Cultural
  • Engaged
  • Innovative
  • Resourceful

Academie Lafayette brand personality brochure

The Académie Lafayette brochure became a valuable resource for staff members to share the same message about the school, and it alleviated confusion among community members and parents.

Since the brochure’s creation, Académie Lafayette has added 250+ students. We’ve continued to support AL in its communication efforts through other printed materials and a responsive website, all which promote the solidified brand personality.

Build your brand

Is your brand experiencing an identity crisis? Call or email us now to see how we can help you discover your true brand personality and better communicate it to all audiences.

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Posted on: September 12th, 2018 by Laura Uber


When your business captures a new lead, do you turn to your lead nurture strategy, or do you push the sale? Do you do any outreach, or do you neglect the new lead, allowing it to spill out of your sales funnel?

Surprisingly, 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales, and the lack of lead nurture is often the cause.

(MarketingSherpa via HubSpot)

Yet, when a company excels at lead nurturing, it generates 50% more sales leads at a 33% lower cost (Forrester Research via HubSpot).

lead nurture to contract deal credit rawpixel

Lead nurture defined

Lead nurture campaigns create effective touchpoints with your defined target group. They position your business as the best choice to achieve a prospect’s objectives (HubSpot’s Intro to Lead Gen).

Lead nurture requires a strong plan and great patience (since 73% of all B2B leads are not sales-ready, MarketingSherpa). Still, meeting prospects where they are is key to winning their loyalty and earning their business over time.

Here are our 5 steps to win and retain customers through lead nurturing:

1. Know your sales process.

If you haven’t mapped out a sales funnel, this is crucial to initiate any lead nurture campaigns. It’s imperative that you know your audience and anticipate your customers’ entry and exit points in your sales process.

sales client process customer journey sample

We have recently created sales funnels for clients. By evaluating their processes for getting (and keeping) customers, we chart the standard customer journey. Identify strong points (e.g., the success of customers who enter the funnel through organic search) and weak points (e.g., customer churn following a demo) to help you narrow your lead nurture focus.

2. Plan your lead nurture strategy.

With the insights gained from evaluating your sales process, clarify objectives. Do customers need more information about your offerings? What was lacking that caused them to bounce off your site? Answers to these questions can uncover your campaign’s main idea and audience segments.

lead nurture client process customer journey sample marketing communications

Knowing your sales process allows you to see where lead nurturing (and later, customer nurturing) fits best.

Email campaigns are an effective (and time-efficient) solution, but you can also send direct mail or cultivate relationships at events. Plan what you’ll share and when you’ll share it. What have you already learned about your leads? Consider how you can carry those conversations forward.

Create touchpoints with your leads on a regular basis (“regular” being relative to your industry). Communicating consistently ≠ constantly. For some, that may be 1–2 times a week, and for others, it may be 3 times a month. You know the pace of your industry, and we’d love to help you find that balance.

3. Share relevant content.

Be concise, compelling, and current. Use your findings from the previous 2 steps to drive your campaign content. You can also look to your website analytics to see what content receives the most attention.

Building trust and showing your expertise will be more effective than an off-putting one-time promo. Ideally, your communication answers questions that alleviates stumbling blocks in the sales process, moving leads closer to — or further down — the pipeline.

Additionally, sharing relevant content creates the potential to attract new website visitors and generate new leads. If your content is unique and reveals new insights, your emails are likely to be forwarded to coworkers or friends, expanding your reach and drawing new people to your business (HubSpot’s Intro to Lead Gen). As you develop more and more content, maximize your reach even further by repurposing it.

4. Respond promptly.

Your responsiveness to leads is often indicative of your win or loss of a customer, as 35–50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor (InsideSales.com via HubSpot). On top of that, the odds of a lead entering the sales process are 23 times greater when that lead is contacted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes (after an inbound lead converts on your website) (HubSpot).

Consider automating a lead nurture message when someone converts on your website, and have a plan of action when a lead reaches out to you. If the average response time of B2B companies to its leads is 42 hours, they’re likely missing opportunities. Furthermore, only 37% of companies respond to their leads within an hour, and 23% never respond at all (HubSpot). Stay ahead of the curve, and prove that your business is attentive to its customers.

5. Measure success.

How did it go? If you’re implementing a series of lead nurture campaigns, make sure you look at what worked and what didn’t. There’s no reason to recycle the same tactics if they’re ineffective. Find a better way, and keep improving.

Know that lead nurturing usually isn’t instantaneous; however, it is effective. (We explain marketing ROI more in depth in this post.) On average, nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads (Demand Gen Report). When it comes to lead nurture, slow and steady wins the race.

When leads turn loyal

You’re running a business. The obvious goal is to convert leads into paying customers. By maintaining an active, effective lead nurture strategy, you can move leads into and through your sales process.

The nurturing doesn’t stop once you’ve “hooked” them. Another level of strategy comes into play: nurturing your client partnerships. (Though it’s not a topic we’re covering today, a couple customer nurturing strategies include showing appreciation through gifts or sharing insights through events.)

Through your lead nurturing, you can help prospects move to customers, and ultimately, to advocates. With advocates for your brand, you will be supported by a team ready to share its satisfaction with your services, creating another entry point for leads into your sales funnel.

prospect customer advocate process chart

Do you have a clear structure for your sales process? If not, call or email us. As strategic consultants, we can help you visualize and better understand your structure.

Already have a sales process? We can offer a fresh look, identify weak areas, and recommend marketing solutions. Call or email us today.

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Posted on: September 5th, 2018 by Laura Uber


marketing ROI sketch brainstorm credit rawpixel

The question invariably comes up (as it should) in business development meetings or as we ramp up with new clients. “How can you prove return on investment?” “How will we know this is working?” “When will we see some gains from this?”

While any good businessperson should ask these questions, the answers are usually not simple. The connection between resources spent and revenue earned can get murky with marketing. There are often overlapping campaigns, different media tools, delayed results, and other influences that make it challenging to isolate a marketing program or campaign in order to measure ROI.

However, there are some basic actions you can take to get closer to understanding your Return on Investment. More importantly, there are things you can learn in the process — about what to do next, how to improve, and when you’ve achieved success (however that may be defined).

In simplest terms, the formula for ROI = (Net Profit / Total Investment) * 100 (ROI is typically shown as a ratio).

marketing ROI formula

Start with strategy

Of course, every legitimate marketing project will begin with strategy. In the ROI world, strategy must include measurable factors. You can’t determine ROI without having a benchmark to measure against. And those B2B benchmarks range greatly. Your goal could be to:

  • Generate X leads to fill the sales pipeline
  • Increase awareness among a core group of prospects by X%
  • Produce $X in revenue from contacts generated by your campaign
  • Reduce employee turnover by X%
  • Increase customer satisfaction by X%
  • Grow web traffic by X% and engage X new users
  • Generate X click throughs and gather X prospect requests
  • Land X new client contracts with average fees of $X

Make sure there’s a dollar figure associated with any factor you plan to measure (every new lead is worth an average of $X). Establish a timeframe in which to measure results, and determine the beginning benchmark measurement, before proceeding. And remember to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV), as the acquisition of a new customer will likely lead to more than one purchase.

In the ROI world, strategy must include measurable factors.

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Calculate cost

The cost to execute your campaign includes any incremental fees or hard costs expended specifically for your marketing project:

  • Agency fees (from strategy through coordination)
  • Media fees (from placement costs to pay-per-click spend)
  • Creative costs (writing, design, editing, coding, etc.)
  • Production expenses (printing, photography, illustration, etc.)

What’s not included? Your internal marketing team costs. Overhead. Fixed costs which have no bearing on a specific project or campaign.

Determine results

Revisiting your initial strategy and benchmark measurement, gather data that answers your strategic focus question (How many new leads were generated? How was employee retention affected? What was the impact on web traffic?). Calculate the total dollar figure associated with each result. And then plug your profit and investment numbers into the ROI equation above. Fair warning: You’ll likely be collecting data over a significant period of time to prove ROI.

Corporate communications, like this project for HNTB, are hard to gauge, but they raise awareness and promote business expertise. When it’s time to select a firm for a project, this type of communication increases the likelihood of participation in the proposal process.

Show and tell

Rather than presenting a series of charts that map out raw data, focus on those actionable takeaways we mentioned earlier. Of course, you’ll need to include your ROI results. But follow them up with key findings, as well as recommendations for improving ROI in the future. Build on what you’ve begun. Repurpose your marketing efforts across different platforms, from social media to print reports. Used correctly, ROI is a vital marketing metric and a valuable tool for focusing long term strategic efforts.

What does a successful marketing campaign mean for you? We’d love to hear about your goals and objectives. Let’s discuss over a cup of coffee. We’d be happy to share our initial thoughts and let you know how we can help. Call or email us today.

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Posted on: August 29th, 2018 by Angela Michka


infographic visual impact

Visuals allow us to quickly process information, which is why infographics are such effective communication tools. When we hear information, we can recall 10% of it three days later, but if we see a visual with the information, we can remember 65% (Brain Rules). It’s no wonder infographics become so memorable.

On top of memorability, here are 3 more benefits of business infographics:

1. Easy to digest.

With 30% of our brains devoted to visual processing (compared to 8% for touch and 3% for hearing), we process images and graphics much more quickly than plain text. If you’re targeting a tight-for-time audience, bite-sized information is especially valuable in reaching them.

2. Easy to share.

Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content (Hubspot).

3. Easy to repurpose.

Extend the life of your infographics in the digital space. Zoom in on a portion of an infographic to highlight a key stat, or direct users to the visual content in reports, white papers, case studies, and blogs. You’ve already invested the time and money to develop the original content. Now, repurposing it gives you a greater return on investment.

infographic benefits visuals

The not-so-easy part comes in the actual creation of an infographic.

What it takes

Mingling various pieces of data to create one cohesive infographic takes time. It seems contradictory to say a simple infographic is complicated, but its development often demands a deep understanding of the subject and a solid vision for its execution.

What we do

We help clients harness strategy and focus messaging before creating any design. Often, data is compiled by our clients — the industry experts. In our role as strategic consultants, we can guide messaging, organize and simplify information, ultimately building a narrative that puts your insights in the limelight.

We can develop copy or edit long lines of text into quicker info-bytes. By rendering content to simplest form, we ensure a clear hierarchy of information, and as a result, we produce a more successful and compelling infographic.

A visual alternative to the infographic is something we like to call an “infolist.”

infographic SMG infolist

You can see the full example of this in a project for client SMG. This is a great solution when you want to expound your expertise. Still easily consumed and visually supported, an infolist bears the same 3 benefits listed above.

Do you need a consultant and design studio to bring your industry findings to life? We’d love to find the right solution for you. Call or email us today.

For more content like this, follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Posted on: August 22nd, 2018 by Laura Uber


When you attend an event, you want it to be worth the investment. The same is true for your own event attendees: they need to feel that their time, money, and energy was well-spent. If they don’t see the value, they won’t commit the time.

event branding graphic

Hosting an event, whether a company-wide celebration or a large-scale conference, can be an effective brand proponent, helping B2B companies engage with employees, prospects, and customers.

While the actual event considerations — staging, production, and logistics — are managed by a specialty event company, the branding and communication materials for your event may be better trusted with a branding consultant.

It’s important that events keep your brand’s core messaging at the forefront. Participants need to see that your content offering is unique, relevant, and valuable. Help them answer questions like:

  • What will I learn?
  • What insights will I take home? And will they be easy to implement?
  • Where can I turn for more info?

When event messaging is consistent, your brand is consistent, and guests can trust your brand to deliver on its promises.

We believe in the power of events, and that the offerings and excitement leading up to an event are foundational. A visually stimulating brand should build (and live up to) anticipation of the event. And when it’s over, your brand should leave guests with lasting value, from satisfied feelings to physical takeaways, like presentation notes and giveaways.

The Creative Department can help you develop:

  • an event theme, including name and tagline
  • an event mark that is flexible across applications
  • a marketing plan for before, during, and after an event
  • strategic messaging
  • an email marketing campaign
  • a social media strategy
  • promotional materials
  • event materials, like handouts, field notes, signage, and name tags
  • presentation decks

It’s not about implementing all of these communications but finding the strategies that are right for you. We can assist you in boiling down your event’s top objectives, whether it’s to increase revenue or enhance customer and employee engagement; to increase brand awareness or identify client and prospect needs.

We aren’t just order takers. We’re strategic consultants, problem solvers, and brand advocates. If you’re looking to partner with a design agency to help you to achieve high-level results, look no further. We want to see brands succeed, and we’d love to help yours.

See how event branding brought an intangible idea to life at SMG’s Forum 2018.

In another event branding project, Pink Fountains, we encouraged the Kansas City community to come together for breast cancer awareness.

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by Laura Uber

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We follow AIGA's Standards of Professional Practice and adhere to its principles of integrity that demonstrate respect for the profession, for colleagues, clients, audiences or consumers, and society as a whole. We utilize AIGA's Basic Terms & Conditions and Intellectual Property Provisions to maintain the professional practices of the design industry.