Web Design and SEO Blog

Jun201715

Importance of Company Logos and Branding: an interview with BrandBoss Creative

by Mira Brody in Design, Industry News, Tools & Tips

JTech interviews Brand Boss.

When major industries consolidate and buy each other out, they aren’t only buying a product or the ingredients in it — they’re paying for the brand’s value. Building brand recognition in your industry takes years and a single slip-up can leave customers with a negative memory of your name.

JTech has paired with local creative Jordan Lacenski, owner of BrandBoss Creative, to bring you the very best branding expertise. We interviewed her about how your business can achieve the very best brand recognition so you can stand out amongst your competitors.

JTech: Why is branding important for your business?
Jordan: Your brand is your identity. It's who you are, what you do, how you do it, and WHY. Consumers are inundated with advertising every day, from the labels on their favorite wine to a $5 million dollar Super Bowl commercial.

Strong branding should be memorable, it should create trust and communicate your value. A strong brand attracts and inspires the right employees, and most importantly, a strong brand draws in new customers. Once you create a brand that clearly communicates who you are, what you stand for, you have to be consistent. You have to create rules, guidelines for your digital presence, your print collateral, your copy, your staff, your customer service. Each time you design and print a brochure, or even your business cards, you should come back to your brand foundation.

JTech: How does the establishment of a logo fit into branding?
Jordan: Logo design should come after an in-depth exploration process. Yes, that's right, you should have homework. A deep dive into who you are, even if you think you already know, should take place before one pixel touches the page. We recommend a creative brief workshop or session. Look at your current state and how you are perceived, and explore the following points:
  • Is your mission current and applicable?
  • Look into your history, culture, and goals for the future:
  • How do you compare to your competitors?

Once you collect all of this data, refine it and move to the fun part — creating. Your logo is one of the single most important steps to your brand, so do it right the first time. The logo is just a start, the tagline, mission statement, voice and tone also communicate your brand and your values. These should all work together. Look at logos you like, look at those you don't. Define what you like and don't like about them and why. This is a great way to narrow down your taste and to train yourself to communicate the important details to whoever is doing the designing.

JTech: Do you encourage clients to allow you to build a logo from scratch, or will you work with an existing one, if they have it?
Jordan: It all depends on the client. We do everything custom, but if the initial logo has strong bones and is true to the client's goals and ideals for their identity, we will oftentimes rework it. We find that people come to us after they had a logo designed by a friend of family member, or off of one of those template websites. When they go to embroider it on hats, or brand packaging, they realize it's all wrong. We design emotive, functional logos. Our packages include all of the files necessary to brand everything you do with your logo. Versions including full color, all white, all black, and horizontal or stacked if necessary, are all included in our final deliverable.

JTech: When building a brand vs. a logo, are they separate processes, or do you see them as a single entity?
Jordan: Your logo should be an expression of your brand. The homework always comes first. Your logo will inspire designers you work with in the future to create consistent collateral. Before we deliver a logo, we ask if the client is interested in a brand kit, which includes a tagline, mission statement, fonts that complement the text in the logo, and the hex codes for their primary and secondary brand colors. These pieces all work together for a clear, consistent message.

JTech: What does your creative process look like?
Jordan: We typically meet with the client and have them tell us their story. Some questions we find helpful to ask are:
  • Why did you start your business?
  • What's special about it?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Who is your target market?

We then walk through a creative brief process and give them an in-depth questionnaire where we get a better idea of exact adjectives they want their logo to communicate, what they want their business to stand for. We deliver 3-5 initial logo options, each communicating what we believe to be a strong representation for the business and we talk these over with the client to see their reactions to each. We think about what the logo's intended use will be, where will it be printed? Then we refine and deliver a second round of options. We repeat. Then we refine again. With the third proof of options, we hope to be extremely close. If one is chosen, we package it up and deliver.

JTech: When you’re working with a new business, what elements do you take into account?
Jordan: New businesses are typically focused on their service, their product, and they are coming to us because they don't thrive in marketing and we are often helping guide these individuals through the process. We educate them on the importance of creating a brand in the right order, so their largest investments, such as their website, are consistent with their intended story. We consult, we advise, we pull examples, and we look at the entire brand as a whole before we begin discussing a logo.

Thank you for your time, Jordan — we appreciate the depth of expertise that you and your team at BrandBoss offer us as partners.

Conclusion
Establishing a brand and logo for your new business, or a new approach to an existing business, is a process we start early on — before building your new website. The website is then driven by this branding and works to communicate that throughout so you are memorable to your customers and authoritative in your industry. We encourage you to contact us or BrandBoss directly if you are interested in working on your company’s branding.
Jun201712

The Many Shades of Popup Ads

by Mira Brody in Content, Design

Popup advertisements began in the late 1990s as a response to complaints from advertisers about their banner ads being run next to unsavory or controversial content — and have since evolved into a complex subject. You’ve probably come across a variety of different popup ad behaviors, each with one goal in mind — to convert your attention into profit.

Entry Popups
Entry popups are those that appear when the webpage first loads, forcing you to engage with it before viewing the content you came to see. They commonly solicit visitors to sign up for a newsletter or offer a coupon code on ecommerce sites. After the initial page load, entry popups can be triggered by different actions:
  • On scroll: As you scroll down a page, the popup will appear. This action is designed to ensure the popup captures a more valuable class of customers —those interested enough to scroll past the beginning of the webpage they visited.
  • After a designated amount of time: Same idea as a popup on scroll, but waiting for a specific amount of time before throwing a call to action over their screen content. This allows you to become invested in the website before being bombarded by a sales pitch.
  • After a click: A popup can be designed to appear after you click on a specific element on the page. For instance, after you click on the products page of an ecommerce site, a coupon code for free shipping is offered.

Exit Popup

Exit popup ads are deployed just as you are attempting to leave a webpage — a last-ditch attempt to keep your attention. The site will track your mouse movements and just as you move toward the top of the browser window to go back, the popup will appear with a message to discourage you from leaving.

Annoying Behaviors
Although all popup advertisements can be annoying, there are a few behaviors that have become common practice and are in particularly ill taste.
  • Pop-under: The pop-under ads appears in a separate window underneath your primary browser window so that it is only visible after you’ve finished browsing, leaving it unclear which site originally launched it.
  • No close: Some ads don’t have a prominent close button, so that you waste time looking at the ad just to find a way to get rid of it.
  • Click-shaming: Click-shaming, also referred to as “manipulinks,” or “confirmshaming,” is when an advertisement attempts to make a user feel bad about themselves in order to get them to sign up for a newsletter or accept an offer.

Popup advertisements.
As pictured, there is a positive call to action button, and underneath a biting alternative, usually serving as the only means to close the window — reducing you to admit a lower self-worth.

Conclusion
Popup ads are always a tricky subject. While they can boost conversions, most tactics are tired, will frustrate users and can drive them away, particularly if you are using some of the “annoying behaviors” mentioned above. We generally discourage clients from using popups as a way to increase conversions. Think about how you would treat your customers face-to-face: would you shame or harass them into buying a product? Or would you treat them with a little more respect?
Jun20178

Welcoming Our New Marketing Intern: Michael Kriegel

by Mira Brody in Announcements

Michael is our newest Marketing Intern and will be helping our digital marketing team build an online authority for our clients. Originally from Denver, CO, he moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State and has since enjoyed the state’s seemingly endless span of natural beauty. He is studying Business Marketing with a minor in International Business and will graduate in 2018. Michael enjoys studying the different factors that drive decision-making and coming up with ways to solve customers’ needs. While at JTech, he hopes to gain experience creating digital marketing campaigns and after graduation has plans to travel with a work visa to either Australia or Ireland to explore the international sector of marketing.

In his spare time, Michael enjoys skiing, mountain biking, fishing, rock climbing — anything that can get him on top of one of a mountain peak. We are pleased to welcome Michael and look forward to the work he will contribute to the team.
Jun20175

Google Adds “Verified Reviews”

by Mira Brody in Google, Industry News, Optimization, Tools & Tips

Google verified reviews.

Positive online reviews hold significant value to your search ranking. Adversely, negative reviews can hurt it. In an attempt to promote quality customer feedback, Google recently joined a practice of Amazon.com in offering verified reviews — encouraging people who have purchased an item from your online store to leave an authenticated review.

Although Google has always discouraged fake or incentivized reviews, this is the first feature they've added that clearly promotes signal over noise. In addition to confirming that a review is written by a real customer, this may serve as a useful tool for businesses who want to solicit customer reviews without exploring the discouraged and ambiguous realm of review incentivization. These verified reviews may end up being promoted or visually differentiated to help them stand out from all the other reviews.

How it works.
In order to enable verified reviews, your business must:
  • Set up a Google Merchant Center Account and opt into the Google Customer Reviews program.
  • Add the opt-in code to your website.
  • Google will then begin sending an email to your customers who have made a purchase, encouraging them to review their experience with you.

For more information about how to respond to negative reviews or to understand better how they affect your search ranking, check our our article The Good and Bad of Customer Reviews. If you need help adding verified customer reviews to your site, give us a call — we’d love to help you out.
May201719

Setting Your Digital Strategy Cycle

by Mira Brody in Optimization, SEO, Tools & Tips

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With every website project, JTech offers our clients optional ongoing strategic reviews of their website. Your business changes with time, making it important to reevaluate your digital strategy to ensure it is still working for you, generating new business and successfully serving your existing clients. Here are a few things we check for when evaluating your ongoing digital strategy:

Initial evaluation — If you have an existing site, it is important to evaluate where you stand in your market when compared to your competitors. We can also setup a digital marketing program to manage and monitor your performance.

Bi-annual reviews — We start these three months after the launch of your new site to monitor its performance. This helps us understand whether the keywords we researched are properly attracting your target markets and what tweaks are needed for your long-term plan. Optimization, marketing adjustments, and initiatives are recommended to meet your primary goals.

Monitor Analytics — Google Analytics provides us with in-depth insight about your website data. We can see who is visiting, their behavior, and where they are getting stuck or dropping off. We then use this insight to improve the performance of your website.

We are in the business of not only creating an online presence for you, but also — much like a car— consistently servicing that website so that it is working at peak performance. If you feel like you are due for a site evaluation or may need online marketing and promotion initiatives, please give us a call — we’d love to talk to you about how your site can be improved to achieve your goals.
May201716

Providing Support For Your Website

by Mira Brody in Tools & Tips

Provide tech support for your customers.

If your business recently launched a new website — or added a feature to an old one — there is a learning curve while your customers adjust to the new interface. As the website owner, providing the needed assistance can ensure that your customers’ experience with your business is a positive one. From our experience designing and developing advanced websites, we’ve come up with some pointers to help you troubleshoot issues that your customers and staff encounter while using your website.

Know your own site.
It may sound obvious, but the best way to teach your customers about your product is to understand it yourself. Whether you’ve just launched a completely new site or are training a new employee on an existing one, this self-training is vital. That way, when a customer calls needing help, you’ll know exactly where to start.

Foresee issues.
This one is particularly important when switching your customers over to a completely new site, as most people are resistant to change. Take note of the things that will be changing and warn your users ahead of time. Even with small changes, we recommend announcing it before launch with a post on your blog or newsletter to avoid surprises. For example, we recently added a file attachment tool to our content management system. Although a minor change, we alerted our clients beforehand and provided instructions on how to use the tool.

Provide help resources online.
Support articles or videos can provide the troubleshooting help many need and reduce time-consuming phone calls to your office. If your site is particularly complex, consider a support section, or frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. You may even consider live chat on your site, a feature that has proven to increase conversion rates and save employee time.

Solicit feedback.
Engage your customers by asking for feedback! People like to have their opinions heard and the reviews on your company's Google+, Facebook and Yelp accounts can positively affect your search ranking. Feedback also gives you the opportunity to improve your services and communicate with your customers.

When your company owns a website, it is your responsibility to make sure it is user-friendly for your customers and to troubleshoot any issues when they arise. We hope we’ve armed you with a useful outline for mitigating common problems. If you would like help adding Support Resources, an FAQ section, or writing troubleshooting guides, we’d be happy to help you.
May201712

The Power of Positive Feedback

by Mira Brody in Design, Development

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve.” — Bill Gates

The power of positive feedback.

Not long ago we launched Bozeman Websites, our affordable product line geared toward smaller businesses and startups so that they too can afford a custom website that serves their needs online. Not long after we started marketing Bozeman Websites, we received some fantastic feedback from a business owner in Missoula, MT who had looked into using us in the past and could now afford it.

“…I am looking forward to using your new program to build the site that we need in the next couple of years. Thanks so much for thinking of the small businesses out here that so desperately need the great quality work that you do.…”

Hearing from a potential customer that they admire and value our work is not only an uplifting experience and a morale boost for the team, but it offers us valuable feedback about what we are doing right. We encourage you to take some time to leave feedback for your local business — you never know who you’ll reach and what positive change it may lead to.
May201710

The Wheeler Center

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Our team just completed a new website for The Wheeler Center!

The Wheeler Center was named for Burton K. Wheeler, and serves to promote the discussion and analysis of Montana public policy. In addition to providing sources, they also hold and sponsor conferences and events for those looking to self-educate as well as discuss solutions to some of today’s pressing issues.

For The Wheeler Center website, we were able to provide an online setting to display their upcoming events, archive information about past events and list political resources. Since they are a non-profit, we’ve also included a donations page where visitors are educated on the benefits of the center’s presence and encouraged to contribute. We felt sweeping imagery of Montana as well as historic photographs of the state’s politics were appropriate to the site’s purpose.
May20178

ShowTime Magazine Addition

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Showtime is live on SSI.

We are excited to announce the addition of ShowTime Magazine to the Silver Screen Insider website. ShowTime is a seasonal theater marketing guide full of movie previews, advertisements from trusted industry vendors, news articles and interviews. It is a must-have resource for anyone running a theater — big or small.

ShowTime Magazine is the perfect addition to Silver Screen Insider. Our development team worked to make this special section of the website stay true to its roots as a print publication while making updates allowed by its digitization. One such feature is the elegant scrolling behavior. As you navigate through the publication, the magazine cover will scroll away, revealing a table of contents. Whether you jump to an interesting article from here or just continue scrolling, it’s incredibly easy to browse through the magazine’s contents. As you scroll, each featured movie is preceded by an immersive full-screen preview, guiding the user even more fluidly than when flipping the pages of a physical magazine. The hope of this digital edition is to not only provide Insider members of this beautiful website with an invaluable resource, but also to make this magazine more accessible and appealing for its readers.
May20173

Laundry Loops is Live!

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Development

A new website for Laundry Loops.

Peggy and Mike are the inventors of Laundry Loops, a laundry bag alternative that has helped many commercial laundry facilities operate more efficiently. Instead of a large, mesh bag, the laundry strap groups clothing — from shirts, pants, shorts, socks and hats — for sports teams, military bases, correctional facilities and other industries who require commercial laundry management.

This new website not only focused on an upgraded design (provided by O’Berry Collaborative,) but was inspired by the company's desire to streamline their administrative operations. Instead of customers calling to order loops, we built a much improved user experience to encourage purchases be made easily through the website. The site processes payments from clients all over the world and Laundry Loops employees can manage orders easily from My JTech, our custom content management system.