Giving Your Struggling Business a Facelift!

Has your business hit the proverbial brick wall? Regardless of how far along you are as a budding start-up or experienced business, we’ve all hit problems and the roadblocks to better progress to the next level. The signs of a struggling business includes declining revenue, lower customer retention, higher employee turnover, and decrease in product/service quality. So what can you do to effectively revive your company?

Take the First Step

You need to reevaluate the situation you are in. So look at the key aspects that you feel are severely lacking in your business, for example, the business strategy. Do you feel the business has a clear direction anymore? Do you know why the business exists in the current market and does it solve any problems for customers or any gaps in the market?

If you feel that your business needs a lift, these might be the right things to change. From there, you need to look at the people. Do you have the right people running the company? Are these people committed to the success of your organisation, and are they actually incentivised properly to do what they can for your business?

Motivation is a massive part of why people work well — remember that!

Are You Surrounding Yourself With The Right Tools?

Productivity is a massive part of why businesses can go down the pan quickly, so if you’re not able to make the most of the tools you have, it might be time to re-evaluate and to bring in better ones. Whether this is using better technology and network support services to help prevents catastrophes occurring on a technological front especially if you have been suffering from a lot of system issues recently.

The right IT company can give your productivity a big facelift, and it’s also vital that your staff and workers are working with the right tools and while it’s a cliché that a shoddy workman blames his tools, you do require the most up-to-date technology for your business to succeed.

Read also: MasterCard Remakes Its Well-known Logo for the Digital Era

Does Your Business Require Rebranding?

As we all know marketing is a massive part of the success of every business. If you’re not able to market ourselves effectively to the right demographics and target market, this might be the reason your business is lagging behind.

If your business is dying a slow death it can have a big impact on your brand and customers will start to lose face in your brand, and their trust in what you are able to achieve will wane as negative word of mouth spreads faster than wildfire.

So you don’t need to necessarily make a complete change in how you present your brand, this really needs to be a last resort, but if you can give your business a new brand identity with some new marketing strategies, this will help to present a new and more dynamic image which then will instigate more customer interest.

So take the right steps to evaluate, check your tools, and check your image before all hope is lost!

17 Questions with Copywriter and Branding Expert Alison Hess

Alison Hess is a talented Copywriter who has spent her career crafting “matchless voices” for internationally-known brands. You’ve probably even seen her work online, on TV, flipping the pages of a magazine or while riding the subway (for NYers). I first met Alison in Jamaica, while she was covering the country’s 50th year of independence, as well as all the excitement surrounding the 2012 Olympics for PUMA. I recently interviewed Alison to learn more about how she got into copywriting, her first project, her latest projects, and how she finds inspiration.

A Snapshot Profile of Alison Hess

Alison Hess is an award-winning copywriter, brand planner and creative director in New York City (NYC) who’s worked on some of the biggest ad campaigns with global brands like Subway and Nike. After working with a string of stellar agencies (like Opperman Weiss and Sylvain Labs), she’s returned to her roots as a freelancer.

Education: Williams College, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Organisation(s) founded: Alison Hess, Inc.

Puma Basket
From the campaign for ‘PUMA Archive’ | Source: www.alisonhess.com

The Phresh Interview

Phil Rodriques (PR): What’s your favourite quote/mantra?
Alison Hess (AH): I just read the best book I’ve read in years, A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, and I loved this line: “…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”

PR: Where did you study?
AH:  I studied at Williams College. It was pure liberal arts, which taught me to think. I majored in Religion and English, and had the luxury of spending four years reading. I did a poetry thesis. Nothing remotely practical!

Bacardi Brand-Cuba
From the Barcardi Brand Book | Source: www.alisonhess.com

PR: What sparked your interest in copywriting, brand planning, and creative direction?
AH: My mentor, Benjamin Bailey, hired me in NYC, three weeks out of college, and I’ve been working with him ever since. I knew nothing of what I do before meeting him; he taught me everything.

PR: Can you remember your first copywriting project?
AH: The job with Ben[jamin Bailey] was at an ecommerce/catalog retailer that sold handcrafted things from around the world. Product descriptions, headlines, etc. were the first thing I ever wrote for a commercial audience. I loved it.

PR: Can you please name some of the biggest brands you’ve done work for?
AH: Nike, American Express, Bacardi, Puma, Levis, Comcast, Godiva, Chobani, Martini…lots. Plus some great Jamaican brands like ICWI, Jake’s Hotel, Jamaica Tourist Board, Cable & Wireless…

Jakes' Hotel-room
From the newly designed Jake’s Hotel website | Source: www.alisonhess.com

PR: What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned in your 14 years as a copywriter?
AH: I’d say that every brand deserves a unique voice, and it’s worth it to take the time to explore and find it.

PR: What’s your favorite part about being a copywriter?
AH: It’s almost like being an actor with words.

PR: What drives your work ethic?
AH: I’m freelance, so the relationships I make feed more work.

PR: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given in your industry?
AH: Building a brand is part science, part instinct.

10AFW01-NY1-A-FullPage_OL.indd
A proud sponsor of New York’s Fashion Week | Source: www.alisonhess.com

PR: What have been some of your unexpected career hurdles to date?
AH: Sometimes it’s taking on too much work and not achieving any balance. Sometimes it’s chasing checks [cheques].

PR: What would you say have been some of your unexpected successes?
AH: I was in the right place at the right time working on Nike+ and unexpectedly won every award in the industry in 2007.

PR: What’s the best part about working as a freelancer?
AH: Choosing the projects I take on and the agencies I engage with. Essentially, I have agency.

PR: What aspects of a new project keep you up at night or make you the most paranoid?
AH: Just deadlines. And sometimes client presentations.

NikePlus
The award-winning campaign for Nike+ | Source: www.alisonhess.com

PR: Where do you find the inspiration for each project?
AH: I look around. New York City provides a lot to notice. I also read, because I tend to write in the style of whatever I’m devouring.

PR: What was your latest copywriting project?
AH: I’m working on Comcast and Chobani right now.

PR: What advice would you give to aspiring copywriters?
AH: Learn to be flexible with your voice. It’s not how you want it to sound…it’s how it needs to sound for the brand. The first thing you should ask is: “Who’s the audience?”

PR: Is there anything else you would like to add?
AH: Look for a mentor. It was one of the best things I ever did.

Fin!

Why Blend in When You Can Be Authentic and Standout‏

How many of you have seen a popular company make the attempt to rebrand themselves? I thought as much; almost all of you. Some brands got it right, but a few duds come to mind, like Gap (see below) and Arby’s that did it horribly wrong.

From a design standpoint, when attempting to redo an existing logo design for your business [that has worked well for years and possibly decades], it is important that the personality of that design is preserved. After all, these days branding is more than just visuals. It has evolved into the emotions you feel; the experiences you have interacting with that business’ product or service; and the memories you make.

Gap a lot of grief from loyal customers for trying a new logo
Gap a lot of grief from loyal customers for trying a new logo

Coca-Cola’s classic logo (unchanged for over 100 years) and its “Open Happiness” global campaign are great modern examples of doing it right. Two words come to mind — brand loyalty. When redesigning your logo, bear in mind what your company represents and what you have envisioned for its expansion in the short, medium, to long-term. Form is as important as function; do not forget that.

Do not give up your ‘competitive advantage’! Your brand should be able to tell a story and its visuals are a part of that storytelling. Before you rebrand try to keep in mind the importance of your product and if you are a designer (like myself), before you take on a rebranding project, focus on your client’s unique identity and preserve that explicitly or subtly as is necessary.

Virtually unchanged for 115 years
Virtually unchanged for 115 years

Often times when a business begins to experience growth, in sustaining or expanding that growth potential we seek out ways to improve our product(s) and service(s). Do not be fooled to think that an “improvement” in your brand has to involve a 180 degree move. New is not always better. Old is sometimes best. Sometimes all we need to do is give what has been working a bit of a polish to make it just a little shinier. It “pays” to be authentic.

Disclaimer: NOT a promotional endorsement for Coca-Cola, but their logo’s pretty damn cool.

Editor’s Note: Updated on April 29, 2015