How to Halloween Your Website

October is here my friends and that means that the official countdown to Halloween has begun! This next month will be filled with more Pumpkin Spice Lattes, apple cider and costumed children than you count. If you want to make the most out of this festive season, your website needs to show a little Halloween spirit. If you do it right, not only will it look great, but you’ll also have a happier, more loyal customer base. Here are a few ideas for how you can “Halloween your website”:

Halloween-ify your homepage

For most websites, the homepage is the place where most of your traffic lands. Why not create a unique experience for all that traffic and spruce up your homepage with a little Halloween décor. Just like we decorate our homes for the holidays, you can and should do the same with your website. Add a spooky graphic as the main image on your homepage, change out some of the fonts for a spooky style or just add a few spiderwebs or pumpkins – anything to show people that your business really knows how to embrace Halloween.

Add a Halloween Countdown

Depending on what your business is, it could be fun to add a Halloween countdown somewhere on your site. There is even a site that has already coded some spooky banners for you: All you have to do is plug the code into your website and you’ve instantly added a little Halloween fun into your website experience. Pro tip: Make sure you also tie the Halloween Countdown timer to a specific event or concept for your business for the best results. Have the countdown coincide with a contest or company announcement. The Halloween-themed banner will be a fun way to draw attention to your event.

Run a Halloween Contest

Contests are a great way to get customers engaged in your business and the Halloween season provides a perfect backdrop for you to be able to run a really fun and interesting contest. Here are just a few ideas for Halloween contests that work well:
  • Halloween Costume Contest
  • Online Halloween Scavenger Hunt
  • Pumpkin or Apple Pie Contest
  • Halloween Poster Design
  • Spookiest House Decorations
The most effective contest will be one that ties in with your business somehow like a Pet Costume Contest for a pet store or a Spooky Decoration contest for a home décor or landscaping business. Even if there isn’t a direct tie-in with your business, a Halloween contest will be a fun way to get your customers involved.

Show Off Your Halloween Spirit

The holidays are a great time to showcase the personality of your business. Giving customers a view into what it’s like to work for your business is not only interesting, but it helps build up a loyal, supportive customer base. Why not go crazy and decorate your office with a Halloween theme. Have employees come to work in costume one day and post the pictures to your company blog or social media accounts. Even if you don’t have any employees and your business is literally a one-man show, you can still show off your Halloween spirit. Post a picture of your pet in costume or post some pictures of your favorite Halloween decorations. The important thing is that you are showing customers that you are engaged in the Halloween season.

Make Your Blog Halloween Central

Assuming you have a blog for your business (and in this day and age, you really should have a blog for your business), take the opportunity to write some Halloween-themed content. A great way to do this is to take an idea for a normal blog post and add a Halloween slant. For instance, if you were going to write a blog posts on the best party snacks, why not turn that post into a “10 Best Snacks to Spookify your Halloween Party”. It’ll feel more relevant since it’s tied to the season and will likely catch a few more eyes. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to add a little Halloween spirit to your website, check out our collection of Halloween Fonts. On sale now, the Halloween Font Collection has a fantastic array of spooky fonts and clipart that are perfect for sprucing up any website.

6 Ways to Personalize Your Way to Success

This past summer, Coca-Cola did the unthinkable and it reversed an 11-year decline in soda sales. How? By getting personal. They launched the “Share a Coke” campaign in June 2014 and customers lined up to find a Coke bottle emblazoned with their name. Revolutionary? No. Impactful? Absolutely. What the marketers at Coca-Cola latched onto was that customers want to feel a personal connection before they buy your product. They want to feel that the product that they are spending their hard-earned money on was made for them and that it will be exactly what they need. What customers bought into with the “Share a Coke” campaign was not just that it’s pretty cool to see your name on a Coke can, but that it felt like a product that was made for them. Personalization isn’t a new concept, but what is new are the tools we have available to make each and every customer’s experience a uniquely personal one. If you run a business and aren’t doing any form of personalization, you are absolutely leaving money on the table. Here are 6 easy ways you can personalize your customer experience for a more successful business:

1. Use names in your email

This may seem overly simplistic, but using a customers name in either your email subject line or within the content can have a dramatic impact on whether or not someone ultimately makes a purchase. While most customers know that their name is inserted automatically by a machine, there is something kind of magical about seeing your name in an email subject that really catches the eye. Bottom line: If customers trust you enough to provide their name, use it to create a more personal experience through your email program.

2. Personalize the email content

One sure-fire way to make sure that your email content gets read is to craft a personal message. You’ll need to have some basic data about your customers to do this, but segmenting your email list based on previous purchases or interests can have a dramatic effect on your sales. When you know what your customers have already bought, it’s much easier to know what makes sense to recommend for their next purchase. This may take some work if you can’t afford the tools that will help you automate the personalized email process, but every business can benefit from some level of email personalization.

3. Create targeted landing pages on your website

Targeted landing pages are a great way to create a personal experience for specific customers and they offer the added benefit of helping boost your search engine results as well. In a nutshell, a targeted landing page is one that has been designed with a specific customer in mind. For example, if you have a landscaping business, you might want to think about creating pages on your website to address a variety of customers. For example:
  • Home Landscaping done right by A+ Landscapers
  • How A+ Landscaping can help your apartment get more tenants
  • Professional Commercial Landscaping with A+ Landscapers
While you are selling the same product or service, when you personalize these landing pages, you are selling your services in very different ways. I’m sure you can imagine how a landing page might look different for home, apartment or commercial landscaping. The content, images and sales pitch can and should be different depending on who you are talking to and changing things up a bit can have a dramatic impact on your sales.

4. Stop automating your social media

It may be tempting to use one of the many services to automate your social media posting. These services certainly make things easy from a time management perspective, but they also take the personal connection out of your social media. Having a real person craft real messages and respond to comments and questions makes your business feel more approachable. Customers who are able to interact with your business on a personal level are much more likely to become brand advocates and will be extremely loyal. Do yourself a favor – let your social media do what it was intended to do and build those personal connections.

5. Create sales paths that feel personal

No one, and I mean no one, likes a pushy salesperson. When you try to push your customers into certain products or force them down a particular path, 9 times out of 10, it’s not going to end real well. You’ll either end up losing the sale or the customer will go home with a serious case of buyer’s remorse. If you want results that end up with happy customers and a happy business, you’ve got to personalize the process. In a retail store, that means having your salespeople take the time to listen to the wants and needs of the customer and having them find options that fulfill those wants and needs. Online, that means creating the right content to help the customer feel like they are being heard. You can do this by showcasing your products benefits, offering testimonials and showing them products that your data indicates they would like. There are a million ways to do it, but the important thing is that the sales process feels real and natural.

6. Be real, be human and listen

Last, but absolutely not least, it is vitally important that you don’t try to be something that you are not. When customers are ready to make a purchase, they want to feel like they are dealing with a business who is authentic, because authenticity means that you know who they are and can trust them. To help create a truly personal experience, you need to listen to your customers.   Whether that is in a physical location, through surveys or on social media, listen to what your customers are telling you and respond to that feedback. The personal attention will pay off in the end!

6 Tips to Create a Tagline That Really Works

You may not realize it, but your tagline is essentially the first and most important advertisement you’ll ever place. A great tagline will help convey a company’s personality and benefits in one tidy little phrase. Most importantly, a great tagline will help customers connect to your business at an emotional level, which is more than what your logo can do alone. Taglines have been called many things through the years – slogans, catchphrases, trademark – whatever you call it, the idea behind it is the same. A tagline is a short phrase that tells the customer what you offer. So what makes a tagline great? What makes something like “Just Do It” one of the most memorable marketing slogans in the world while a million other phrases are instantly forgotten? Here are six things to keep in mind as you create a tagline for your business: 1. What’s your mission? When you start the process of crafting a tagline, you may be tempted to go for something that you think is clever or cool or funny. While that may seem like a good idea initially, it’s probably an area that you’re going to want to stay away from. Start out by defining who you are as a business and what your purpose is. People don’t have time to try and figure out who you are and what you do – don’t be clever, be clear with your tagline. Wal-Mart’s “Save Money. Live Better.” is a great example of a tagline that tells you exactly what you can expect from the business it represents. Take a page out of Wal-Mart’s playbook and tell your customers what you do. 2. What’s the benefit? Speaking of Wal-Mart’s tagline, not only does it tell you what their mission is, but it tells you what the benefit is in just 4 little words. When I read “Save Money. Live Better.”, it tells me that by spending my money with Wal-Mart, I’m going to be able to keep just a little bit extra in my pocket for the things that really will make life better. The city of Las Vegas highlights the benefit in their tagline as well: “What happens here, stays here.” lets every potential visitor know that if they want to go a little crazy, Las Vegas is the place to do it. When creating a tagline for your business, really think about what the most important thing people get from your product or brand is and start there. 3. Tie it to your brand If you want your tagline to really resonate, it needs to reflect your brand. What are the core values and beliefs of your business? What is your company’s personality? What do you want people to remember about your business or product? Your tagline is going to be much more effective if it relates to your overall brand messaging. Disneyland’s slogan “The happiest place on earth” is a perfect example of a tagline that really encapsulates the brand. Disney is all about bringing magic and happiness to people, so why wouldn’t their theme park be the happiest place on earth? 4. Keep it simple Above almost anything, you want your tagline to be memorable, and that’s hard to do if you’ve crafted a paragraph to describe your business. The best taglines are short and sweet and are easy to digest. Whether your customers are reading your tagline in a magazine ad, on a billboard or on your storefront or whether they are hearing it in a commercial or from a salesperson, you want that tagline to be simple enough for people to remember. With that in mind, there is no hard a fast rule about the length your tagline should be, but try to keep it under 7 words for the best opportunity for recall. Note that Geico’s “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” is a very famous example of a very long tagline. Unless you have a marketing budget the size of Geico’s, it’s probably best to stay away from taglines that are this wordy. 5. Make it sticky When I say “make it sticky”, I don’t mean that you should pour honey all over your tagline (although I suppose that is an option if you like to take things literally.) What I mean is that you need to make your tagline memorable. Keeping it short is the first step in creating a memorable tagline, but there are other things you can do to help your slogan stick in people’s brains:
  • Make it command (Just do it or Eat fresh.)
  • Be repetitive (There’s strong, then there’s Army strong.)
  • Play with pneumonic devices (Every kiss begins with K)
  • Ask a question (What’s in your wallet? Or Can you hear me now?)
Whatever you choose to go with, just make sure it sticks in your head first and then introduce it to others. 6. Test, test and re-test Which brings me to my last point – as any good marketer or scientist knows, the best way to be sure about something is to test it out. Once you’ve settled on one (or a handful) of great taglines, try them out on a few people to see what they think. If you have the time and resources, put together a research panel to get some real-time feedback about your tagline options. Just know that there is a limit to the amount of research and opinions that will be helpful. Don’t let yourself get wrapped into analysis paralysis where you are so tied to the data that you can’t make a decision. To create a really great tagline, you need to trust your research, but more importantly, trust your gut. Need some tagline inspiration? Here are 25 of the most influential taglines ever:
  • “Got milk?” – California Milk Processor Board
  • “Just do it” – Nike
  • “A diamond is forever.” – DeBeers
  • “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” – MasterCard
  • “That was easy.” – Staples
  • “The few, the proud, the Marines.” – The United States Marines
  • “They’re g-r-r-r-eat!” – Frosted Flakes
  • “Have it your way.” – Burger King
  • “Think outside the bun.” – Taco Bell
  • “Pork. The other white meat.” – National Pork Board
  • “Like a rock.” – Chevy Trucks
  • “The fabric of our lives.” – Cotton Incorporated
  • “It keeps going, and going, and going…” – Duracell
  • “Are you in good hands?” – AllState
  • “It gives you wings.” – Red Bull
  • “Snap, Crackle, Pop.” – Rice Krispies
  • “Melts in your mouth. Not in your hands.” – M&M’s
  • “Good to the last drop.” – Maxwell House
  • “Only you can prevent forest fires.” – S. Forest Service
  • “Think small.” – Volkswagen
  • “The king of beers.” – Budweiser
  • “Because I’m worth it.” – Loreal
  • “I’m lovin’ it.” – McDonald’s
  • “Think different.” – Apple
  • “Where’s the beef?” – Wendy’s

The Complete Evolution of NFL Logos

Are you ready for some football?  I know we are!  Some of the most iconic and recognizable logos in the world have come from the National Football league.  From the big blue and white star of the Dallas Cowboys to the teal and orange dolphin of the Miami Dolphins, NFL logos are as diverse as the teams they represent and whether you’re a football fan or not, you can’t dismiss the fact that the logos of the NFL are everywhere.

To help celebrate this rich and diverse logo history, we’ve put together a slideshow where you can see the visual evolution of every NFL team’s logo.  Some NFL logos have changed quite a bit, while other team logos have remained consistent for decades.  Discover how your favorite NFL team’s logo has changed over the years and learn some fun facts about NFL logos in the process in our latest slideshow.

View the Evolution of NFL Logos

The Best Fantasy Football Logos

As any good fantasy football team owner knows – winning takes a combination of solid strategy, perseverance and a whole lot of luck.  Walking away with a league championship trophy at the end of a challenging season is the pinnacle of sport for many individuals. Well the season is upon us again and a slew of armchair quarterbacks and living room Lombardi’s are ready to do battle in the epic arena that is Fantasy Football.  Here at Summitsoft, we not only support those who risk it all for fantasy football glory, but we want to do our part to help your team succeed and giver our recommendation for the best fantasy football logos.

You may not realize it, but the one of the first steps a good Fantasy Football team owner takes on the road to success starts not with draft strategy, but with a team name and logo.  Your Fantasy Football logo and team name are the embodiment of your team and to that end, you want to have your team represented well.  Fantasy Football logos are not an area where you want to be shy – the key to a good Fantasy Football logo is fully embracing your team’s personality and showing it off.  Be Bold!  Embrace strong colors and images for a logo that will really stand out.

To help give you a little inspiration, we’ve scoured the web for some of the best Fantasy Football logos out there and we’re happy to say that we were not disappointed.  Check out some of these rock star logos to help get you off on the right foot:

What we like: We love the way the Dirty Dozen incorporated the Broncos colors.  Tying in your favorite team’s mascot or colors helps personalize your logo.  The treatment of the D with the snorting bronco inside is an especially nice touch.  A great logo sure to intimidate.

What we like: Similar to the Dirty Dozen logo, The Griffindors have done a nice job tying in the Carolina Panther colors and the mascot.  The shield is a great choice for a Fantasy Football logo, symbolizing strength and fortitude – qualities every good Fantasy Football team should have on hand.

What we like: While we’re not sure about the history behind this team name, we love the overall design of the Fighting Squirrels logo.  Great font choices paired with a strangely intimidating squirrel head make for a really solid Fantasy Football logo.

What we like: The Fightin’ Nuns logo is maybe a little less polished than some of the other logos on this list, but that doesn’t diminish our respect for a quality team name and logo.  The utter fierceness of the nun caricature should be enough to send most teams running for the hills.

What we like: What’s not to like about this sweet logo?  The clever mashing of the elephant and rhino heads is incredibly interesting and is a perfect tie-in with the Elephino team name.  Now if someone could just tell us how to pronounce that name, we’ll be set.

What we like: This pig looks like he is out for blood!  He strikes just the right note of intensity to be a good Fantasy Football logo.  We like the combo of yellow and green colors and the wing design on this soaring swine is a nice touch.  The only criticism here is that the font is a little hard to read, but other than that – a solid effort.

What we like: Everyone knows that you can’t kill a cockroach and unfortunately the same can be said for a lot of Fantasy Football teams.  This logo is just solid all around.  Great colors, great imagery and great font choice.  It’s one that any fantasy football team owner would be proud to display.

What we like: Oof – this is one tough logo.  This Fantasy Football logo for the Steel City Gunslingers just makes you feel like your team is going to get battered and bruised, even if the matchups are pure fantasy.  The detailed drawing of the guns and skull might seem overdone in other logo designs, but rendered in black and white, this logo is a winner.

What we like: We can appreciate a team who really owns who they are and accepts the fact that they are just Fantasy Football posers in the end.  While this logo has quite a lot going on, we like the use of the shield and the color choices.

What we like: This is another team that really knows it’s place.  It’s not out to intimidate anyone and that message is conveyed strongly through the cartoony design of the Yak to the subdued color choices.  While most Fantasy Football logos tend to be on the bold and brazen side, it’s refreshing to see a clever logo with solid design.

What we like:  This bulldog is ready to play!  With a nice nod to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (which we assume is a favorite of this team owner), this swashbuckling bulldog strikes the right note of intensity and intimidation.  A great caricature that showcases the personality of this team well.

What we like: Really, the better question is what don’t we like about the One Man Wolf Pack logo.  Pop culture references are very common in Fantasy Football, but it’s uncommon to see a logo designed as well as this one.  Great colors, clean lines and cleverness abound in this one-man show of awesomeness.

What we like: There are very few Fantasy Football logos that look so good that they only need one color.  The East Side Beasts is one of those logos.  This giant red gorilla looks intimidating and if we’re going to be frank, a little empty behind the eyes – he will crush your team…and your soul.

What we like: There’s no way around it – sharks rule.  This Fantasy Football team owner has cleverly replaced the A in Sharky, with a shark image and that really helps this logo stand out.  We also love the treatment of the shark fin at the top with the addition of the football laces.  All in all, great integration of football elements with the team personality.

What we like: Bring back the mullet!  We would love to know if there is a story behind this team name, but even if there isn’t, this classic Fantasy Football logo had us jumping up and screaming “Merica!”  How can you not love that glorious blond mullet?

Do you play Fantasy Football?  How’s your logo look?  We’d love to see how you represent your team in the comments! If you need help creating a logo try Logo Design Studio Pro. It’s easy to install and use.

9 Tips for Building a Brand on a Tight Budget

With most small businesses, there are two things that are almost always going to run a little tight – time and money. Unfortunately those are the two things that usually help the most when trying to build a brand. The good news is that you can absolutely still build a strong brand and grow your business even if you have a miniscule budget. Here are some ideas to get you started.
  1. Create a rock star logo
There is no way around it – your logo is the ultimate visual representation of your brand and having a great looking logo can easily help you get a little extra brand mileage. There are a lot of different ways to go about designing your logo – hire a professional, use a web service or purchase some premium software to help you design it yourself. Check out our guide for how to design a logo as a good place to start.
  1. Put that logo everywhere
It’s one thing to have a great logo for your business, but it’s a completely different thing to really showcase that logo so people see it and recognize it. If your logo is your brand currency, you need to be spending it like it’s going out of style. An easy way to do this is with logo stickers or shopping bags. Make sure your logo is highly visible and you’ve got an instant walking advertisement.
  1. Set brand guidelines
As with most success stories, the devil is in the details and in the case of branding, consistency is the key. Large corporations have large budgets and staff who are paid to draft brand guidelines and police them well. For a small business, you control what you can and that means ensuring that you are using the same font, colors and aesthetic in all your marketing – email signatures, business cards, social media banners are all prime areas that if treated right can be a great extension of your brand.
  1. Start a blog
Blogging gives you a great outlet for your expertise and if you do it right will be a destination for both current and potential customers. Just a couple of tips: 1) Blog about what you know – you are the expert in your industry. Share that knowledge with your customers! 2) Be authentic – Most people can sniff out a phony from a mile away. Be yourself (but the best version of yourself) in your writing and your blog will start attracting a following in no time.
  1. Start an email newsletter
If you want your business to succeed, you’ve got to give them multiple ways to connect with you. While some people may way to come by and peruse your blog, others are email addicts and would prefer to have your information, discounts and news sent directly to their inbox. Email is an inexpensive and effective way to make sure that your brand is top of mind.
  1. Say thank you to top customers
One of the things that is pretty much universally lamented is the sorry decline in good old fashioned customer service. Be the exception to the rule and go the extra mile. There is nothing wrong with sending a personal, hand-written thank you note to a customer after a large purchase. It’s a small act that will go a long way towards building your brand.
  1. Embrace social media
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay and if you want your brand to thrive, you’ve got to get active socially. You don’t have to participate on every social channel, but every business needs at least one or two social channels to help build brand awareness. Choose the platforms that make the most sense for your business and really commit to making your presence known.
  1. Create a unique promotional aesthetic
Similar to your brand guidelines, your promotions will resonate better if they have a consistent look and feel. Maybe you choose to use a particular filter for all of your promotional photography or perhaps every sale message uses the same shapes and colors. There are a million ways to establish a promotional aesthetic – the important thing for building your brand is that you pick one and stick with it.
  1. Buddy up
Individuals and businesses who succeed alone are incredibly rare and it’s a safe bet that you’ll build a stronger brand and business if you develop a few strategic partnerships along the way. Whether your partner is another local business that you choose to cross-promote with or whether it’s a local charity that you publically take a stand for, you’ll find that having the right partner allows your brand to grow at a much faster rate. There are lots of other things you can do to build your brand without breaking the bank. Let us know what works for you in the comments!

5 Big Business Card Dont’s

With business cards, there are a lot of different ways to get them right.  Unfortunately there are about twice as many ways to get them wrong.  I mean we’ve all seen the glaringly bad business cards.  The ones that are so ugly or boring or just plain wrong that they actually make you think less of the business.  No one wants to be put into that category and absolutely no one wants to lose business because of a bad business card, but it definitely happens.  To help make sure your business card does it’s job, here are the five big don’ts in business card design: 1. Incomplete information If the purpose of a business card is to build a relationship, as a general rule of thumb, you need to have all your contact information present.  It’s pretty much a non-negotiable these days, but every single business card needs to have the following:
  • Company Name and Logo
  • Your Name
  • Your Title
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Website URL
  • Physical Address
  • Company description or tagline (Optional, but helpful)
  • Social Media profile links (Optional, but helpful)
You’ve got a 3.5 x 2 inch space to get people to remember you and your business and there are some really classy and stylish ways to present all of that key information.  If you do it right, your business card can become a great sales and marketing tool.  Just make sure you cover all your bases and include all the key information about you and your company. 2. Blah design The look and feel of a business card can be a bit subjective, but for the most part, people tend to agree when something is eye-catching versus totally boring.  Boring business cards can be a huge turn-off to potential clients or buyers, so it’s worth it to take some time and invest in an attractive design from the start. Going away from a boring business card doesn’t mean that you have to go crazy with color either, but it does mean that you have to put something together that represents your business well.  If your business is best represented by a sleek black and white card, that’s great – just add some personality in with the font choices and design elements.  Anything to help your business card stand out from the crowd. 3. Overcomplicated design On the flip side, it’s very easy to overdo a design concept when you are working with a really small space.  Don’t over-engineer your business card design to the point that it starts turning people off.  The design needs to help emphasize what your business does and the quality of your work.  It can’t just be design for design’s sake.  A good rule of thumb is if you hand it to someone and they seem overwhelmed or confused, you’ve probably gone too far. 4. Illegible fonts The funny thing about business cards is that you actually want people to be able to read the information.  I’ve seen so many business cards that choose a font, that while interesting and full of character, is way too hard to read.  If a person has to struggle to get your contact information off your business card, it’s probably going to be a struggle to win their business. As a general rule of thumb, fonts should be between 7 and 11 pts.  Anything smaller than that is really too small for most people to read without straining their eyes.  Why not make it easy for people to get your information and contact you. 5. Poor quality This is an area that a lot of people underestimate, but the quality of the paper and printing does make a difference in how your business is perceived.  A nicely designed card printed on flimsy, thin cardstock may make your business seem a little flimsy as well.  Using a heavier card stock for your business card may be a bit more expensive up front, but it will definitely help your business appear stronger, more sturdy and solid. You also need to consider the print quality.  Make sure to take into consideration the bleed lines when designing your card and always do a test print before committing to a full batch. In Summary: Your business card can be an incredible marketing tool if done right.  Just stay away from these basic mistakes and you’ll be growing your business in no time!

10 Totally Off The Wall Ideas to Boost Your Business

While traditional advertising still has its place, in this day and age, it takes something really unique to put a business on the map and get noticed.  Customers are inundated all day long with sales and marketing messages that one more advertisement is usually just white noise.  The upside is that if you can find a way to interact with customers in a different way, you have a great opportunity to grab their attention and grow your business.  Here are 10 Totally Off The Wall Ideas to Boost Your Business.

1. Sticker the town

Get some stickers printed up with your logo, website URL, phone number and a catchy slogan or image and put them in places where people aren’t expecting to see anything.  Think about well-trafficked sidewalks, bus stops and windows.  Just use caution when applying the sticker to make sure that it’s in a place that won’t cause damage or be seen as “graffiti”.  You can also do something similar with sidewalk chalk messaging, coupons or flyers.  The key is to show up in a unique way in a place where you are catching your customers off-guard.

2. Crazy business cards

In today’s technologically advanced society, it seems a like business cards would be a thing of the past, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  A great business card is an inexpensive piece of marketing that can be handed out to anyone who is interested.  Why wouldn’t you use that opportunity to create something that will get you noticed.  Think unique shapes, bright colors or animal prints.  Anything that is different, clever or unique and will help people remember who you are and what you do.

3. Throw a party

Throwing a party is a great way to build some goodwill in the community and grow a loyal customer base as well.  Think about major events that are going on and what you can do to celebrate (World Cup, Olympics, election night, etc.)  You can also get creative and make your own event like a faux birthday party for an important historical figure in your industry or a National Pirate Day Party.  Tie the party in with some free food, drinks and possibly themed costumes and people will be sure to come.

4. Have a contest

A contest can be a really fun way to get customers involved with your business.  You’ll want to think about relevant themes, but don’t limit yourself.  Things like Ugliest Kitchen, Cutest Pet, and Best Costume (for Halloween or other holiday) can all work well. Make sure you take lots of photos and tie them in with your social media accounts and encourage all participants to share the photos as well.  Having a highly desirable prize will encourage people to participate.

Pro tip: If your prize is big enough (like a kitchen makeover or a dinner every week) and the contest creative enough, your local news might just pick up on the story as well.  Make sure to call your local newspaper, radio and television stations with a story tip.

5. Institute random acts of kindness

This is an idea that will not only help grow your business, but it will help you feel good as well.  Take any opportunity to do something kind and just let people know that it was done by your business.  Things like buying the coffee for the person behind you, helping an elderly person with some yard projects or bringing some tasty baked goods to a local homeless shelter can be great ways to spread some goodwill in your community and foster a sense of goodwill about your business as well.

6. Incentivize social sharing

Social sharing is a great way to get your existing customers to do the marketing for you.  Offer a discount on a purchase if your customers share their experience on any social media site.  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are logical choices, but every person has their own favorite social network, so try not to limit the ways that people can share.  Just make them show proof of the social share at the time of purchase and thank them with a nice discount.  Word of mouth marketing could likely be the most cost effective and efficient marketing you ever do!

7. Teach people something new

When you run your own business, you are by default an expert in your industry.  If you can find a unique way to share that expertise, you’ll very quickly build up a loyal following.  Think about hosting a Saturday demonstration, hold classes for people to learn about what you do, put together a tip sheet or guide that people can pick up at your business location or just start a blog where you post relevant and useful information.  However you do it, teaching customers something new will help showcase your expertise and you’ll build your reputation as the “go to” source.

8. Partner with local artists

Reach out to the local art community to create something unique and impactful that will attract the attention of potential customers.  Whether it’s showcasing up and coming artists in your store or yarn bombing your local park or having local photographers help create a one-of-a-kind menu for you, working with those in the art community is a great way to showcase your business in a new and beautiful way.

9. Run a scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are a tool that will get people in your store or shop in a really fun way.   This can work a number of ways, but however you set it up, the goal should be to get people to interact with your business in a way that they hadn’t thought about before.  One way you could do this is to partner with other local businesses for a larger-scale hunt with multiple locations.  If your store or shop is large enough, this is a great way to get people to take a look at products that might generally be overlooked.  A scavenger hunt can even be run online and will certainly help get people to less trafficked areas of your website.

10. Make your business a daily attraction

Make your business a place that people want to come back to every day and you’ve instantly built yourself a loyal customer base.  If you’re a restaurant, feature a totally new, off the wall dessert or drink every day.  Feature a new pun or quote on your outdoor signage every day.  Have a secret password at a set location that changes every day, which gets customers “in the know” a discount on their purchase.  There are so many ways to do this, but the key is to have fun and be authentic.

Growing a business is hard work, but it doesn’t have to break the bank and it can even be a lot of fun.  Hopefully these ideas will help spark something for you.  Best of luck and happy marketing!

Ranking the 50 Most Iconic Logos

What is the definition of an icon?  Simple really, an icon is three things: 1) Highly recognizable, 2) Rich in history and 3) Meaningful.  When you think of something or someone that is iconic, Marilyn Monroe or Frank Sinatra probably come to mind, but there are also images that help define the word “iconic”. Partly as a celebration of our love of logos and partly because it’s just human nature to want to categorize and rank things, we’re launching our official list of the most 50 Most Iconic Logos.  It was a labor of love to put the list together – let us know what you think.  What would your list look like? Check out the full list of the 50 Most Iconic Logos

Enter the Ultimate Business Starter Sweepstakes!

Hey there folks and happy Wednesday!  If you’ve been wanting a little excitement for your Wednesday afternoon, then look no further.  We are officially announcing the Summitsoft Ultimate Business Starter Sweepstakes.  We want every new business to be successful, and the winner of this sweepstakes will be getting access to some of the best business tools around with a great selection of our premium business software.  Plus we’re throwing in a $50 Visa gift card to help cover all those miscellaneous business expenses like paper or server costs or Starbucks. Anyway, we’d love for you to take your chances and enter to win.  It’s totally free to enter and only takes a minute. You can learn more and enter the Ultimate Business Starter Sweepstakes here. Best of luck!

How to Find Your Brand Personality in 5 Minutes

Whether you have a brand new business or one that has been around for decades, success is going to be very hard to come by if you don’t understand who you are as a company.  A brand personality is what the consumer can relate to and whether you know it or not, everything tied to your company influences the consumers’ idea of your brand personality. Brand personality is what makes Coca-Cola seem classic and traditional, while Pepsi feels youthful and more trendy.  A brand’s personality is created through everything from a company’s logo to their color scheme to the fonts they use.  And it’s important to note that the personality of a brand is something that is often built up by consumers and fans of the brand, which is why if you don’t want someone else defining your brand, you need to control the image from the start. To help you out in this endeavor, we put together a helpful 5-Minute Brand Personality Quiz.  It’s a tool that will help you define where your company fits on the brand personality spectrum and how you can help translate your brand message correctly to the public.  If you have a chance, check it out – we hope you find it useful!

What Your Logo Colors Are Actually Saying

Whether you realize it or not, the colors you see impact your decisions every day.  As humans, we have been hard-wired to respond in certain ways when presented with specific colors.  As a small business owner, what this means is that the choice of the colors you use in your branding is vitally important.  While you may personally love the color yellow and wear it every day, yellow ultimately may not be the right color choice for your brand. Red The color red is a bold, exciting color and it’s associated with passion, heat, energy and on the flip side, can also be associated with aggression and danger.  It’s a statement color and choosing to integrate red into your logo tells the world that your brand is energetic and exciting. As a side note, some studies have found that the color red can stimulate appetite, which is why it is one of the most widely used colors in food and restaurant logos. Examples of red logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_red-coca-cola-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_red-cnn-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_red-pinterest-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_red-frito-lay-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_red-virgin-logo.jpg
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_red-time-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Red-Target-Logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_red-nintendo-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Red-Netflix-Logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_red-lego-logo.jpg
  Orange If you want to be seen as friendly and approachable, orange might be the right color for your brand.  In branding, the color orange is often seen as being one of the most cheerful colors and generally implies that your brand is fun, youthful and accessible.  It also carries tones of innovation and modernity, which tie into the youthful feel and similar to red, orange is a warm, energetic color. Examples of orange logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_discover-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_amazon-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_nickelodeon-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_shutterfly-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_harley-davidson-logo.jpg
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_payless-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_hooters-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_fanta-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blogger-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_firefox-logo.jpg
  Yellow While yellow is often thought of as a warm, sunny and friendly color, you want to use this color with caution.  In North America, the color is heavily tied to transportation and most warning signs are a yellow hue.  Also, historically, being “yellow” meant that you were cowardly, which generally is not one of the adjectives that you’d want associated with your brand. Caution aside, there are many brands that have used yellow to set themselves apart and like red, yellow has also been shown to be an appetite stimulant.  Other words associated with yellow: optimism, warmth, and clarity. Examples of yellow logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-nikon-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-nat-geo-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-best-buy-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-mcdonalds-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-shell-logo.jpg
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-sprint-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-caterpillar-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-hertz-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-ikea-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_yellow-subway-logo.jpg
  Green Green is the color of life and growth in almost every area of the world and it is most widely used to emphasize a brand’s organic and natural side.  Because of the strong ties to growth, green has been used very well for financial logos as well.  Other words associated with the color green include peace and health, making it an excellent choice for brands who want to play up a restorative presence. Examples of green logos:
 a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-starbucks-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-spotify-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-xbox-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-tropicana-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-whole-foods-logo.jpg
 a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-land-rover-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-john-deere-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-holiday-inn-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-android-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_green-animal-planet-logo.jpg
  Blue Blue is one of the most widely used colors in logo design and there is good reason for that.  The color blue conveys a tone of professionalism and implies trust and dependability.  It can also signal strength and integrity, which means that for banks and financial institutions, blue is an excellent choice.  On the flipside, blue is also highly associated with serenity, peace and tranquility and can work well for health, spa and beauty brands. Examples of blue logos:
 a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-jpmorgan-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-facebook-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-ibm-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-wordpress-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-oralb-logo.jpg
 a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-hp-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-dell-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-amex-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-walmart-logo.jpg  a1sx2_Thumbnail1_blue-nasa-logo.jpg
  Purple If you want your brand to be perceived as luxurious, purple may well be the way to go.  In western cultures, purple has historically been the color of royalty, which gives it it’s high-end appeal.  Purple has also been associated with the church, which lends itself to being a good representation of a brand that is considered dignified and wise.   Along those lines, purple has also been use to showcase a brand’s imaginative and creative side. Examples of purple logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-syfy-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-taco-bell-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-welchs_logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-wonka-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-yahoo-logo.jpg
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-aussie-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-big-brothers-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-cadbury-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-crown-royal-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_purple-hallmark-logo.jpg
  Black Using the color black in your logo can convey a lot of different things.  On the one hand, the color black has strong connotations of sophistication, seriousness and power, which can be great for high end luxury brands.  On the other hand, for many cultures, black is the color of mourning and is symbolic of death.  The color black is heavily tied to the supernatural as well and is the color of the unknown. That all being said, almost every logo will have to have a black and white version for cases where color is not available and as of 2014, black logos are right on par with current design trends. Examples of black logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-lexus-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-puma-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-times-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-ysl-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-adidas-logo.jpg
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-chanel-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-cartoon-network-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-gucci-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_black-guinness-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_nike-logo.jpg
  White Historically, the color white has been used to convey purity, cleanliness and simplicity.  It can also be used to convey balance and a sense of calm or zen.  Baby brands, organic products and brands dealing with wedding products are all industries where white favors heavily. Similar to the color black, even if your primary logo is full of color, you’ll almost always need a version that can be done just in white and black. Examples of white logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_white-apple-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_white-abc-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_white-levis-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_white-dominos-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_white-coca-cola-logo.jpg
  Brown The color brown has an earthy, masculine feel that is often associated with the outdoors.  Companies who work closely with or in nature or who want to give consumers the feeling that they are down to earth and practical should consider using brown in their logo.  Brown is also closely tied with dependability and reliability. Examples of brown logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_brown-ups-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_brown-godiva-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_cracker-barrel-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_brown-hersheys-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_caribou-coffee-logo.jpg
  Pink Is there any color that is more closely associated with femininity than pink?  Pink is light and fun and flirty and fresh and can be great for logos directed towards female consumers.  It is also tied closely to the idea of sweetness and works well for confectioners or bakeries. Examples of pink logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_pink-barbie-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_t-mobile-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_pink-orkut-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_hello-kitty-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_pink-vs-logo.jpg
  Multi-Colored While most logos will utilize more than one color, the logo design standards typically state that you should limit your color choices to no more than 2-3.  However, there are circumstances where it might make sense to use a multitude of colors in your company logo.  For instance, if you are trying to convey that you offer a wide variety of products and services, a multi-colored logo could work well.  Using more than 3 colors also helps convey that your brand is inclusive and is focused on diversity.  If those are key pillars of your companies brand, multiple colors could work well in your logo. Examples of multi-colored logos:
a1sx2_Thumbnail1_google-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_windows-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_ebay-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_bahamas-logo.jpg a1sx2_Thumbnail1_olympic-logo.jpg